Michigan Quilt Project
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Quilts and Human Rights

Quilts of Memorial

Quilts are made as memorials to those who died as a result of human rights violations. Sometimes they are made in remembrance of one individual; other times they are made in remembrance of scores of individuals who died. Quilts may contain visual symbols or portraits or simply list names of those who died. Quilts have been made, for example, to depict victims of lynchings in America, ethnic genocide in Rwanda, the war in Iraq, and ethnic wars in Srebrenica.

Iraq War Memorial Quilt
Cynthia Catlett
Houston, Texas
Cotton linen curtain; red, white and blue striped fabric; yellow silk ribbons and red fabric roses
Photo transfer with HP inkjet printer
88" x 99"
Collection of the artist
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong, all rights reserved

“This quilt was made to recognize the faces of 3600 men and women of the military who have died in line of service in Iraq and Afghanistan since GW Bush ordered troops into Iraq in March 2003. It is the first pictorial memorial in U.S. history to honor the fallen heroes of a military conflict. These are the faces of those who have served this country, those who have died for this country and the loved ones they left behind. IT CAN NO LONGER BE ENOUGH TO SAY SUPPORT OUR TROOPS! TODAY WE MUST SAVE OUR TROOPS!”

Srebrenica Memorial Quilt
Women of BOSFAM
Wool; woven
79” x 79”
Collection of the Advocacy Project
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong, all rights reserved

Each year, on July 11, Bosnians gather at Potocari, in Eastern Bosnia, to commemorate the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, which claimed the lives of more than 8,000 men and boys. They also attend the reburial of victims whose bodies were identified in the previous year. In 2007, the women of BOSFAM, a Bosnian women's group, began this Srebrenica Memorial Quilt, in commemoration of those who were killed. The quilt was unveiled at a memorial event on July 8, 2007 in St. Louis, home of the largest Bosnian population in the United States. The quilt currently contains 20 panels, each commemorating a victim and all hand woven by BOSFAM women who lost relatives in the massacre.

BOSFAM hopes to quadruple the size of the quilt by July 11, 2008. They hope that others who lost relatives in the massacre will commission panels, and that the quilt will help them to connect to others who also suffered. The weavers hope that as the quilt grows in size it will keep the memory of the massacre alive, in community after community, and encourage local debate and media coverage about the destructiveness of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, and the resilience of survivors.

For information about how to commission a panel: http://advocacynet.org/page/bosniagiving . All money raised will cover the cost of weaving.

BOSFAM supports women from all ethnic groups who were affected by the war in Eastern Bosnia.

NAMES Panel for Bob I.
Lynne Swanson and Chris Carmichael
East Lansing, Michigan
November 1995
Cotton; appliqué
44 ¾” x 79 ½”
Collection of the Michigan State University Museum
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong, all rights reserved

The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt began in June of 1987, when a small group of strangers gathered in a San Francisco storefront to document the lives they feared history would neglect. Their goal was to create a memorial for those who had died of AIDS and to thereby help people understand the devastating impact of the disease. Today the Quilt is a powerful visual reminder of the AIDS pandemic. More than 46,000 individual 3 by 6 foot memorial panels-commemorating the lives of over 91,000 people who have died of AIDS- have been sewn together by friends, lovers, and family members. Laid end to end, the panels would stretch for 52.25 miles. The NAMES Project Quilt is too large to be exhibited in one spot any more. Portions of it tour the country and are placed on view in community displays. To date, the Quilt has been visited by over 15,000,000 people.
This panel was made at a NAMES Project Quilting Bee hosted by MSU Museum and the Lansing Area AIDS Network. Members of the community came together to create panels for loved ones lost to AIDS. In some cases, panels were made to honor people who had no family, or who had been estranged from their family due to their circumstances. This was the case with Bob I. Two 6’ x 3’ panels were made for him. One was sent to the NSMES Project to become part of the massive AIDS Memorial Quilt. The other panel was accessioned into the Michigan State University Museum Great Lakes Quilt Center collections in order to document and preserve an example of quilting uksed in public memorials and social action. For more information on the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial quilt, go to http://www.aidsquilt.org.

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