Quilt Outreach

May 10, 2017

AP showed the second Malian camel quilt to His Excellency Issa Konfourou, Mali’s ambassador to the United Nations. The ambassador is from central Mali and was familiar with many of the village scenes depicted in the quilt, which was entirely made by survivors of sexual violence at Sini Sanuman’s center in Bamako, Mali. Read more about this program.

May 3, 2017

The two Middle Eastern Refugee Quilts were shown at a community mobilizing event organized by the chapters of Amnesty International and No Lost Generation at the University of Delaware. Shestin Thomson, president of the AI chapter, is shown center introducing the quilts.

April 26, 2017

The two Middle Eastern Refugee Quilts were shown by the Georgetown University Arab students group and the GU chapter of No Lost Generation. Angelique Palomar ([photo) and Iain Guest from AP used images from the quilts to tell the refugee’s story from exile to resettlement, through embroidery.

April 22-23, 2017

The two Middle Eastern Refugee Quilts took pride of place at an exhibition of over 150 quilts produced by the Quilters from the Sea Quilt Guild in Portsmouth, Rhode Island over the past two years. Several quilters from the guild assembled the two quilts and were on hand to explain how they were made and what they had learned from the experience. Click here to meet the quilters.

April 1, 2017

AP exhibited the two Middle Eastern Refugee Quilts at the inaugural gala of No Lost Generation, the student movement that supports refugees. The event was held at The School of International Service, American University in Washington DC and promoted NLG’s “Adopt-A-Future” refugee education campaign. More than 200 visitors attended. Photo: Karen Delaney from AP with Mr Omar Masaltha from the embassy of Jordan (left). Keynote speaker Ambassador Mark C. Storella praised the quilts as successful examples of story-telling and advocacy.

March 27-31, 2017

The first Middle Eastern Refugee Quilt was displayed prominently in New York at Syria Awareness Week, a week-long event at Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs that looked back on six years of bloody war in Syria. Among the activities – a photo exhibit, speakers and documentary film.

March 18, 2017

The two Middle Eastern refugee quilts were shown at a vigorous and well-attended day of events aimed at encouraging community engagement on behalf of refugees and migration. The event – Raise Your Voice Advocacy Workshop and Volunteer Fair  – took place at St George’s Episcopal Church in Arlington, Virginia. Three hundred experts and advocates heard from community leaders, religious leaders and policy experts who included the Imam of Georgetown University and Anne Richard, President Obama’s  assistant secretary of state for refugees and migration.

March 8, 2017

The fourth Congolese Ahadi quilt featured at an event to celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8) at the University of Loyala, New Orleans. Dr Nikki Eggers headed a panel discussion called “Sewing Community: Ahadi Quilts, NGOs, and the Politics of Textiles in Africa”

February 23, 2017

The two Middle Eastern Refugee Quilts were exhibited at University of Maryland’s Hillel’s fifth annual Global Justice Shabbat dinner on February 23. The event focused on the Syrian refugee crisis. UMD Hillel catered to more than 200 guests and featured a keynote speaker, Mark Gopin, the director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University.

February 21, 2017

The two Middle Eastern Refugee quilts were displayed in public for the first time at an event at Georgetown University aimed at helping students to understand what it means to be a refugee. The event – I am A Refugee – was jointly sponsored by two student bodies, the Africa Forum and MENA Forum, and the Georgetown Women in International Affairs. The panel featured Rose Twagirumukiza, a former refugee from the Rwandan Genocide and 2016 AP Peace Fellow (right); and Qutaiba Idlbi, a refugee from Syria and co-founder of People Demand (left).

April 12, 2016

The Congolese Ahadi quilts (right) were among several quilts shown at George Mason University during a conference on women and war. Karin Orr and Iain Guest from AP give presentaions.

March 10, 2016

AP exhibits 19 quilts at Salve Regina University, Newport, Rhode Island. Students from the Pell Center at the University act as docents and introduce the quilts. The event is widely covered in the local press. For more, click on the tab above.

December 9, 2015

The two Alafia Mali (Peace in Mali) quilts were shown at Georgetown University on December 9. The event was jointly sponsored by the Georgetown University Conflict Resolution Program, the GU African Studies Program, AP and the Washington-based Mali Affinity Group. The panel was headlined by His Excellency Tiena Coulibaly, the Malian ambassador in Washington, pictured third from the left. AP was represented by Giorgia Nicatore (far left) the Mali Peace Fellow in 2015, and Iain Guest (fifth from the left). Also shown: Professor Chic Dambach, chair of the Mali Affinity Group, and Vivian Lowery Derryck, former Assistant Administrator at USAID.

September 12, 2015

The Artists and Makers Studio showed 12 advocacy quilts in September. The event was co-sponsored by Solar Sisters and Quilts for Change, which also exhibited quilts. Over 700 visitors attended  the opening weekend and reception, which featured presentations from several past Peace Fellows  who have assisted in the making of quilts. They included TJ Bradley, who is shown here discussing the fifth Peruvian Nunca Mas (Never Again) quilt. TJ served as a Fellow in Peru and helped 40 villagers produce embroidered squares in memory of relatives who were killed or disappeared in Peru’s dirty war. The Voice of America also filmed the event.

August 7, 2015

New quilts from Peru and Mali were shown in public for the first time at the Long Beach Island Foundation, New Jersey. The Foundation displayed 21 advocacy quilts over a period of three weeks. Katie Petitt from AP addressed the opening event (photo right) and Iain Guest from AP spoke at a reception on August 14. Iain was joined by Merry May, one of three quilters from New Jersey who assembled the Peruvian quilts. The LBIF event was widely covered by the local media. A full page on the exhibition will be posted. 

July 22, 2014

The second Mahilako Swastha (Women’s Health) quilt from Nepal is exhibited at the annual annual scientific meeting of the American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS) in Washington, DC. The squares were painted onto cloth in Nepal by women who receive a hysterectomy after suffering third degree prolapse – one of the Association’s concerns. Each square describes the artist’s experience with prolapse. Several hundred specialists attended the meeting and were able to see the ravages of prolapse from the perspective of those most affected. The quilt is shown here with AUGS staff.

May 3, 2014

The River Gypsy Quilt is unveiled for the first time in public at the Church of the Samaritans. The squares were embroidered by artists from the gypsy community in Sunargaon, Bangladesh, and assembled by quilters from the Sister’s Choice Quilting Guild, in Falls Church Virginia. Several quilters attend. From the left: Leslie Jo Waters, Cathy Eckbreth, Gail Wentzell, Beth Suddaby, Amy V Loar and Debra Shetier. Peace Fellow Chris Pinderhughes (front left) brought the squares back from Bangladesh in 2013. Peace Fellow Matt Becker (front right) launched AP’s program with river gypsies in 2012.

May 3, 2014

The Sixth Love Blanket from Nepal is shown at a meeting of the Girl Up Club at the Walt Whitman High School, in Bethesda MD. The event is organized by Anna McGuire, 14, who has raised funds for AP’s work in the DRC and Morocco. AP Director Iain Guest is one of four speakers, and he uses the quilt to talk about the plight of young girls, also called kamlaris, who are forced into domestic slavery in Nepal. AP receives a request to submit a proposal to a small family foundation following the event.

March 27, 2014

The Gulu Disability Quilt and the Vietnam Disability Quilt (shown on the right) are exhibited at the University of Maryland to illustrate a series of panel discussions on disability and inclusion held by students. The meeting is organized by graduate student Rebecca Scherpelz, who served as a Peace Fellow in Uganda in 2011. Iain Guest, from AP, spoke about AP’s work on disability at one of the panels alongside officials from the US State Department.

March 25, 2014

The Butonde (Nature) Quilt is on display in Washington, during a visit by Benedicta Nanyonga, the founder and director of the Kinawataka Women Initiatives (KIWOI) in Uganda. KIWOI made the quilt from 10,000 recycled straws in 2011, with help from Peace Fellow Scarlett Chidgey. Benedicta is in Washington to receive an award, and AP takes advantage of her presence to introduce her to the Plastic Pollution Coalition and help her to attend a panel discussion at Georgetown University. The quilt provides a dramatic backcloth to these events. Benedicta is shown here with a Ugandan environmentalist who was also honored at the Washington event.

November 5, 2013

The Gulu Disability Quilt heads north to Canada, to be shared with two friends who have generously  supported our work with the Gulu Disabled Persons Union (GDPU).  Dane Macri, pictured right, served at the GDPU as a Peace Fellow in 2012 and raised funds for an accessible toilet at the Gulu Bus Park. Glen, pictured left, generously agreed to fund a follow-up project to install toilets in schools. The quilt was made and assembled by GDPU members who suffered disability, and shows scenes of disability caused by the LRA rebellion. Peace Fellow Christine Carlson (2010) supported the quilt-makers.

September 23, 2013

The first Ahadi (“Promise”) quilt from the DRC is on display when AP receives a visit from Her Excellency Aurelia Frick, the Foreign Minister of Liechtenstein, center. Also pictured, from the left, are Mr Martin Frick, from the Ministry; Her Excellency Claudia Fritsche, the Ambassador of Liechtenstein in Washington; and Ms Sabdra Ruppen, from the Ministry. Karin Orr and Iain Guest from AP briefed the delegation of the partnership between AP and SOSFED in the DRC, which has been funded by the Foreign Ministry of Liechtenstein

September 27, 2012

The Mahilako Swastha (“Women’s Health”) Quilts from Nepal are exhibited at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC at an event organized by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Dr. Lauri Romanzi (right) is one of the lead speakers.

September 2012

The Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center exhibits the Gracanica Roma Quilt and the Bosfam Srebrenica Diaspora Quilt in Long Island, New York. 

June 28-30, 2012

BOSFAM exhibits several Srebrenica Memorial Quilts in Sarajevo, Bosnia. 

December 19, 2011

AP exhibits the 3 Mahilako Swastha (women’s health) Quilts from Nepal, and the Butonde (Nature) Quilt from Uganda in Washington DC.

The Mahilako Swastha quilts tell the story of uterine prolapse, a painful condition that affects over 600,000 women in Nepal. The panels were painted in August 2010 by survivors of prolapse under the direction of the Women’s Reproductive Rights Program (WRRP), with help from Peace Fellow Kate Bollinger. Sharon Rhoton (left) was one of the quilters who helped to assemble the panels into two large quilts in the United states.

December 10, 2011

AP shows the Congolese Ahadi quilts at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. The event is organized by the ‘UML Students Against Sexual Violence in the Congo’ and led by undergraduate Bianca DiPersio, seen on the right in this photo. The students also make a small quilt, which is signed by visitors at the event. The event raises $1,000 for SOSFED in the DRC. This is then matched by the University.  Our deep thanks to Bianca and her friends!

November 3, 2011

The Srebrenica Diaspora Quilt is shown at Rugs of Remembrance, an exhibit of Bosnian diaspora weaving at the Institute for Community Research in Hartford, Connecticut.

The diaspora quilt commemorates 25 massacre victims, and was made by the weavers of BOSFAM for family members living in the US.

October 24-25, 2011

AP exhibits four Roma quilts (from France, Czech Republic and Kosovo) at the 3rd International Conference of Roma Women in Granada, Spain, organized by the Council of Europe. The four quilts were made in 2011 by Roma communities, with support from AP Peace Fellows.

October 2011

The three Love Blankets and Tharu Liberation Quilt from Nepal are displayed in Washington DC during two events featuring Dilli Chaudhary (left), the founder of AP’s partner BASE. Also pictured: Peace Fellows Chantal Uwizera (far left) and Karie Cross (center), who served as Peace Fellows at BASE and coordinated the quilting project.

One hundred eighty three Tharu children in 9 different villages contributed painted panels for the Love Blankets in 2010 and 2011. The panels tell the stories of children who were forced into slave labor at very young ages.

July 5-13, 2011

BOSFAM Weavers for Hope display the Srebrenica Memorial Quilts at a gallery in Tuzla, Bosnia to commemorate the 16th Anniversary of the massacre.

June 2011

Beginning in April in 2011, eight women from the Roma community in Strasbourg, France work together to produce panels for the Dosta! (Enough!) QuiltThe quilt is displayed in Venice at the Biennale and presented to Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

April 20, 2011

The six Ahadi Quilts from DRC are shown for the first time together at Georgetown University. One hundred twenty survivors of sexual violence in the eastern DRC embroidered a panel for the quilts in the summer of 2010. The panels were assembled by quilters in the US. Ahadi is Swahili for “promise.”

March 23, 2011

The second Ahadi Quilt from DRC is exhibited in Berlin at the 10th anniversary of Zivik, which supports AP’s work in the DRC, in Berlin.

The quilt was one of six made by survivors of sexual violence in the eastern DRC in the summer of 2010. Each panel was embroidered by a survivor and tells her story. The quilts were assembled by quilters in the US.

February 2011

The first Ahadi Quilt from DRC is exhibited at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The quilt is one of six made by survivors of sexual violence in the eastern DRC in the summer of 2010. Each panel was embroidered by a survivor and tells her story. The quilts were assembled by quilters in the US.

October 26, 2009

Radovan Karadzic goes on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. The Mothers of Srebrenica, a high-profile advocacy group, take one of the Srebrenica Memorial Quilts to the Hague for the opening of the trial. The photo appears in the media all over the world, helping to draw attention to the needs of survivors.

July 14 and 17, 2008

The Advocacy Project hosts an exhibition in Washington, DC to commemorate the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. The event, held at AP’s gallery, features the Srebrenica Memorial Quilt which was woven by women from BOSFAM, AP’s partner in Bosnia. The women all lost relatives in the massacre. Their names are woven into the quilt.

December 10, 2008

The Rio Negro Memorial Textile is shown for the first time in the United States in Santa Fe by Heidi McKinnon, who coordinated the quilt project in Guatemala while serving as a Peace Fellow at ADIVIMA.

The quilt was made in August 2008 by 15 weavers in the village of Pacux, Rabinal, in the province of Baja Verapaz. It commemorates 477 family members who died during massacres perpetrated by government-supported militia in the area of Río Negro between 1981 and 1982.

July 11, 2007

The Srebrenica Memorial Quilt travels to St Louis, MO, on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, to be exhibited at the Bosnian mosque. St Louis is home to some 30,000 former residents of Srebrenica, most of them refugees.

The quilt was the first to be woven by widows from the Bosnian group BOSFAM and carries the names of relatives who died in the massacre.

United Nations, March 8 to April 27, 2012

The first major display of advocacy quilts opened at the United Nations in New York on March 8, 2012 – International Women’s Day. Entitled Women are the Fabric, the exhibition was jointly sponsored by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), AP and Quilt for Change an organization that engages American quilters.

AP donated eleven quilts to the exhibition: The Srebrenica Diaspora Quilt; the Rio Negro Textile; two Ahadi quilts from the DRC; two from Nepal; two Roma quilts (France and Kosovo); the Butonde straw quilt from Uganda; and the two Maasai quilts. Quilt for Change loaned several artistic quilts from its members around the theme of women and security.

The exhibition was set up in the main UN Hall launched at a reception by four distinguished speakers: Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA): Rosemary A. DiCarlo, Deputy US Ambassador to the UN; Margot Wallstrom, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict; and Marceline Kongolo, 24, the founder of AP’s Congolese partner, SOS Femmes en Danger (SOSFED). Our thanks to the United Nations Foundation for covering the cost of the reception.

High-powered audience: Marceline Kongolo from SOSFED delivers her address with Dr Babatunde Osotimehin from UNFPA, and Margot Wallstrom from the UN, watching.

Two of the quilts on display were embroidered in the Congo by survivors of sexual violence at  an SOSFED center and Marceline paid them tribute in her speech: “I work with extraordinary  women,” she said. “They have been subjected to sexual attacks that are cruel and serious. But they have had the courage to testify to their pain by designing the shocking images that you see before you tonight.” Click here for a video of Marceline’s speech.

As well as being the first major display of advocacy quilts, the UN exhibition also drew many AP friends who had helped to make the quilts. They included Isabel Osorio Chen, a survivor of  the terrible massacres at Rio Negro, Guatemela, in the early 1980s and a member of the weaving  group that made squares for the Rio Negro Textile. Isabel’s trip was arranged by the UN office in  Guatemala City.

Also present were several former Peace Fellows who had worked on quilt projects: Kate Bollinger (Nepal): Charlotte Bourdillon (Kenya); Heidi McKinnon (Guatemala); Beth Wofford (Czech Republic); and Scarlett Chidgey (Uganda).

Isabel Osorio Chen (right), stands next to the square she wove for the Rio Negro textile. Heidi McKinnon (center) coordinated the quilt-making as a Peace Fellow.

Several American quilters who had assembled the quilts on display were also able to attend:  Cathy Springer from Indianapolis (Rehema Widows Quilt); Bobbi Fitsimmons from North  Carolina (Gracanica Roma Quilt); Onalie Gagliano from New Jersey (Maasai Girls Quilt);  Nancy Evans and Susan Schreurs from the Faithful Circle Quilting Guild in Columbia, Maryland  (Ahadi Promise Quilts). For some, this was their first direct meeting with AP. It gave us an opportunity to thank them in person.

Then there were the friends who made the exhibition possible by their support for AP: Mary Ellen Bittner, from the Zonta Women’s Club of Washington; Sarah Craven, head of the Washington office of the UNFPA; and Louis Lerouz, a devoted follower of Marceline’s work in the Congo who made the trip down from Canada. Tragically, Louis died soon afterwards from illness.

As a Peace Fellow in Kenya, Charlotte Bourdillon (left) helped to produce the squares for the Maasai Girls  Quilt, shown here. Onalie Gagliano (center) assembled the squares into a quilt at her home in New Jersey.

Photographer Brian Gohacki covered the exhibition for AP, and the UN also commissioned a photographer, Whitney Kidder. Their excellent photos are available on a special Flickr page. AP  also produced greeting cards which sold at the UN gift shop.

Over 150 guests attended the reception and by the time the exhibition closed in April it had been viewed by 80,000 visitors. They included the curator of the human rights gallery at Kean University, Neil Tetkowski, who issued an invitation to hold the exhibition at the university in 2013. Many visitors left simple but moving comments in the visitor’s book. “Your quilts are amazing. Women really are the fabric,” wrote Brooke. Another visitor commented: “Your strength and message touched my soul.” The book covered several pages of comments, in many different languages, and provided an exclamation mark on the event.

Peace Fellow Scarlett Chidgey (center) helped women from a Ugandan slum to collect 10,000 straws and weave them into the Butonde (Nature) quilt – a big attraction at the UN exhibition.

Our special thanks to Alexandra Sicotte-Levesque and Christian Delsol from UNFPA (pictured  below); to Jan Arnesen the UN curator and her talented team; to Whitney Kidder and Brian Gohacki, photographers; and to the AP team (Iain, Karin, Erica, Laura, Jennica, Beth, and Charlotte) which are pictured at the top of this page. All worked hard to make the exhibition the  success it was.

Alexandra Sicotte-Levesque and Christian Delsol from UNFPA.
Sarah Craven, from the UNFPA Washington office, with Dick Wilbur and Alison Wilbur, the founder of Quilt for Change and a co-sponsor of the UN exhibition.
Marceline Kongolo (left) relaxes at the exhibition with a friend.

Kean University, January to September 2013

Read about this exhibition in the New York Times.

Kean University in New Jersey provided the venue for the second major exhibition of advocacy quilts. The groundwork had been laid at the UN exhibition in March 2012. Neil Tetkowski, director of the Kean galleries, viewed the display and felt that the quilts would find a receptive audience at Kean. AP and Kean worked together in the Fall of 2012, and the 24 quilts went on display on January 1, 2013. The exhibition was extended through the summer and closed in September.

The Kean exhibition was significantly different from the UN display. In the first place, AP was the sole provider of quilts. Second, Kean offered the use of the university’s human rights gallery – an elegant, roomy and self-contained space. Third, the human rights setting allowed AP to feature all of the quilts, instead of being limited to the them of women. Finally, showing the quilts at a university ensured plenty of input and interest from students.

Luminous: The Vietnam Disability Quilt was assembled by Nancy Evans and Teresa Orr to be seen against light.

The initial discussions took place in the offices of Dr. Dawood Farahi, the Kean University President, in October. Iain Guest and Karin Orr from AP used the Rehema Widows Quilt to explain the concept (photo above). President Farahi was enthusiastic, and asked his assistant Professor Henry Kaplowitz and Neil Tetkowski to take over the project.

By the end of 2012, almost twenty AP partners had produced quilts. This ensured a rich and varied selection. AP chose 24 quilts, including several new quilts that became available in the second half of 2012. These included a second Mayan quilt from Belize; two Roma quilts from Lithuania and France; the Child Protection Quilt from Uganda, made by families of lost children; the Vietnam Disability Quilt; the Moroccan Amizigh Quilt; and two new Love Blankets from Nepal.

Laura Jones from AP tells the story behind the Chintan Wastepickers Quilt.

All of the quilts were arranged around the walls or on central stands except for the Vietnam Disability Quilt, which was hung at the window to attract light during the day and reflect the museum lights at night (photo). AP also produced new posters on all of the quilts on display.

As at the UN, the opening reception was attended by several AP friends who had made the exhibition possible. They included Susan Louis, a quilter from New Jersey, who had just finished assembling the sixth Love Blanket; Laura Jones and her mother; and Fred and Joan Bliss, long-time supporters of AP who lived in the area. AP’s Iain Guest, Karin Orr and Laura Jones served as guides and explained the story behind each quilt (photo).

There was most interest in the Srebrenica Diaspora Quilt. Several professors were also on hand, including Dr Joe Amarino, an art specialist who marveled at the quality of the Congolese (Ahadi) quilts. He found it remarkable that women without education or prior knowledge even of sewing were capable of such artistry (photo).

Close-up: Professor Joe Amarino praises the artistry of the Congolese quilts.

The Kean community embraced the exhibition with enthusiasm. The Kean Exchange, an online publication, ran a profile and followed up with a long and interesting blog from a student about quilts as advocacy. The Kean Current, a campus newspaper ran a long article. Kean students proved indispensable during and after the opening. Janine Rivera, a graduate student, accompanied AP during the presentations and then trained a team of student docents who served as guides over the weeks that followed. Their friendship and support was infectious. The New York Times and Quilt Life both ran detailed stories, thus ensuring that the exhibition – and advocacy quilting in general – reached far beyond the Kean campus.

Our special thanks to: Dr Dawood Farahi, Professor Hank Kaplowitz, Neil Tetkowski, and Janine Rivera.

Neil Tetkowski, Gallery director at Kean.
Susan Louis assembled the Sixth Love Blanket at her home and then saw it displayed at Kean.
Chief docent Jenine Rivera and Professor Hank Kaplowitz watched over the quilt exhibition during most of 2013.

Textile Museum, Washington, November 19 – December 2, 2013

In late 2013, AP was invited to display quilts at the Textile Museum in Washington. The museum has the oldest and largest collection of textiles in America, and has long been renowned for its elegant setting on Massachusetts Avenue. But in 2013, it received an offer it could not refuse – a new location at George Washington University. Director Lee Talbot asked AP to make several quilts available for a 3-week display in November, as a way to close out many years of successful exhibitions at the old location. This was an honor and a further indication that advocacy quilting has credibility within the quilting community.

The Textile Museum is something of a shrine for American quilters. Given this, and the elegance of the setting, we selected eight quilts for quality and the involvement of US-based quilters, rather than stories. The chosen quilts were from the DRC; Kenya (the Rehema Widows Quilt);Morocco; Nepal (one of the Mahilako Swastha quilts); Belize (the Orchids Quilt); Vietnam (the Vietnam Disability Quilt); Kosovo (the Gracanica Roma Quilt); and Bangladesh (the Women’s Microcredit Quilt).

Susan Schreurs, Alka Mital, and Nancy Evans from the Faithful Circle Quilt Guild with Laura Jones from AP. Alka and Nancy helped assembled the Women’s Health Quilt from Nepal, shown right. Susan worked on the Ahadi quilt, which was also exhibited.

The event was first and foremost an opportunity to thank friends and expand APs growing network. It opened with a reception at the Museum, and a presentation by AP, which attracted 130 visitors. They included three former Peace Fellows who had helped make the squares – Benan Grams and Mohammed Alshubrumi (who served in Morocco), and Kate Bollinger (Nepal). Several members from the Zonta Women’s Club of Washington, which has supported AP’s program of quilting since 2007, also attended (photo). Sarah Craven from the UNFPA, another long-time friend of AP’s quilt program, was also present.

We were also pleased to see several quilters from the Washington area who had worked on the quilts on display – Susan Schreurs, Nancy Evans and Alka Mital from the Faithful Circle Guide in Columbia (photo); and Beth Suddaby from the Sisters Choice Guild in Arlington, who was assembling a new quilt from Bangladesh at the time. Several experienced quilters who serve as docents at the Museum attended a briefing by AP before the event. One of them Helen Blumen, an experienced quilter from Chevy Chase, volunteered to help AP with future exhibitions.

As a Peace Fellow, Kate Bollinger organized the painting of squares for the Women’s Health Quilt in Nepal. She is shown here with members of the Zonta Club of Washington.
The Vietnam Disability Quilt at the exhibition entrance.
Mohamed Alshubrumi and Benan Grams in front of the Moroccan Amizigh Quilt. The quilt squares were woven at the Ain Leuh Weavers cooperative where they served as Fellows in 2013.

Noyes Museum, New Jersey, June 6 – September 11, 2014

Tranquil Setting: the River Gypsy Quilt on display at Noyes

Read about this exhibition in the New Jersey Shore News Today.

In early June, AP’s collection of advocacy quilts moved to the Noyes Museum in southern New Jersey. The Museum is a well-known cultural center in a spectacular setting next to the New Jersey shore. Its speciality is innovative, hand-crafted works of art. Indeed, one of the four galleries at Noyes is devoted to artefacts by “ordinary” people. Many are fascinating and inventive.

Dorrie Papademetriou, the director of exhibitions, visited the display of advocacy quilts at Kean University and decided that the quilts would fit well into the Noyes philosophy. This was echoed by Sara Gendlek, the deputy director at Noyes, at the opening night of the exhibition on June 6. “People are drawn by the colorful and beautiful imagery. They will walk by and say ‘Oh – Pretty!’ Then they go ‘Wow – there’s a deeper message here and we want to learn more.’”

Seventeen AP partner organizations, from 12 countries, contributed quilts to the Noyes exhibition. The following quilts were displayed: The Rio Negro Memorial Textile; the River Gypsy Quilt (Bangladesh); the Vietnam Disability Quilt; the Child Protection Quilt (Uganda); The Morocan Amazigh Quilt; The Maasai Girls Quilt (Kenya); the Rehema Widows’ Quilt (Kenya); the Women’s Microcredit Quilt (Bangladesh); the Belize Orchid Quilt; the Belize Forest Quilt; the Fifth Ahadi (Promise) Quilt (DRC); the Butonde Quilt (Uganda); the Srebrenica Diaspora Memorial Quilt; the Sixth Love Blanket (Nepal); the Romano Trajo (Roma Life) Quilt (Lithuania); the Second Mahilako Swastha (Women’s Health) Quilt (Nepal); the Chintan Wastepickers’ Quilt (India).

All but one of these quilts were exhibited before Noyes. The new addition was the River Gypsy Quilt from Bangladesh. The squares for this quilt were embroidered in Bangladesh by women artists in the town of Sunargaon, and they describe the life of River Gypsies – one of the most marginalized and least-known communities in Bangladesh. The project was organized in Bangladesh by the Subornogram Foundation, a small advocacy group and AP partner that represents the River Gypsies.

“They should stop what they’re doing!” Tianna Hood, 12, was impressed by the Child Protection Quilt, which speaks out against child sacrifice in Uganda

The squares were brought to the US by Peace Fellow Chris Pinderhughes, and assembled into a finished quilt by the Sisters’ Choice in Arlington Virginia. The quilters showed great flair in the way that they designed the quilt and used different colored fabric to represent rivers, sand and vegetation. The River Gypsy Quilt will be profiled on a new page on this website, that will feature photos of the artists in Bangladesh and photos and interviews with the American quilters.

The Noyes exhibition was opened on June 6 with a reception that featured a local band and drew scores of interested visitors. Tianna Hood, 12, reviewed the quilts carefully, and was particularly impressed by the Child Protection Quilt, which makes a strong protest against the practice of child sacrifice in Uganda. “They should stop what they’re doing,” she said. “But I’m really happy that they’re showing it (the quilt) here.

Karin Orr and Iain Guest were on hand from AP to tell the story behind the quilts, on behalf of the partner organizations and artists. The exhibition then ran until September 11. Iain closed the exhibition by giving a talk to students and faculty at Stockton College, which is associated with the Noyes Museum. Iain entitled his talk Advocacy Quilting as the Art of Remembrance, and made a direct link between the anniversary of 9/11 and the Noyes exhibition. Several AP partners – in Guatemala and Bosnia – have used quilting to remember loved ones who disappeared.  Iain’s talk was filmed.

Noyes Belize Forest
noyes 2
noyes 3

Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ, September 28, 2014 to October 26, 2015

Karin Orr, from AP, discusses the Ahadi (Promise) quilts with visitors to the Westmoreland exhibition

Two weeks after the Noyes exhibition came down, AP’s quilts went on display at the Westmoreland church in northwest Washington. The church occupies a prominent position on Massachusetts Avenue and has a reputation for promoting social justice. (Another group at the church was selling olive oil from Palestine when the quilt exhibition was being assembled.) Reverend Timothy Tutt encourages his large and enthusiastic congregation to get involved, and the church provided a splendid venue for the quilts, which were hung on corridors and the spacious lower level (photo).

Sarah Craven, who heads the UNFPA office in Washington and attends the church, made the initial connection. Marge Harvey, from the Church’s arts committee, then worked with AP to hang the quilts. Marge proved to be tireless and endlessly encouraging. She persuaded her colleagues to produce a large banner, which was placed outside the church to attract drivers.

Westmoreland church gave the exhibition some fine publicity

Iain Guest from AP introduced the exhibition with some brief remarks during the service on September 28. Iain and Karin Orr, from AP, then gave a longer presentation after the service. The quilts themselves were ranged along the walls of the upper corridor and in the large meeting hall on the ground floor. Marge manned a table and sold greeting cards.

Sarah Craven in front of the Gulu Disability Quilt. Sarah attends the Westmoreland church and made the connection with AP.

Sixteen AP partner organizations, from 12 countries, contributed quilts to the Noyes exhibition. The following quilts were displayed: The Srebrenica Diaspora Memorial Quilt (Bosnia); the Rio Negro Memorial Textile (Guatemala); the Fifth Ahadi (Promise) Quilt (DRC); the River Gypsy Quilt (Bangladesh); the Vietnam Disability Quilt; the Moroccan Amazigh Quilt; the Maasai Girls Quilt (Kenya); the Rehema Widows’ Quilt (Kenya); the Women’s Microcredit Quilt (Bangladesh); the Belize Orchid Quilt; the Belize Forest Quilt; the Butonde Quilt (Uganda); the Sixth Love Blanket (Nepal); the Romano Trajo (Roma Life) Quilt (Lithuania); the Second and Third Mahilako Swastha (Women’s Health) quilts from Nepal; the Chintan Wastepickers’ Quilt (India); and the Gulu Disablity Quilt from Uganda. 

Over two hundred women and children from the Global South made squares for these quilts, and around fifty American quilters, from 8 guilds, worked on assembling the quilts. Our thanks to them all, and a special thanks to Marge Harvey from the Westmoreland congregation, for helping to make the exhibition a great success.

New England Quilt Museum, Lowell, March 21 – May 3, 2015


The hands for Henna Pride were painted by artists from the transgender and gay community in western India. The quilt was shown publicly for the first time at the Lowell exhibition.

In the spring of 2015, AP exhibited ten quilts at the New England Quilt Museum, in Lowell. Lowell is a former textile town that now serves as a center for refugee resettlement in the northeast. While the mills themselves have long closed and been transformed into elegant office buildings, Lowell retains a strong link to its past as a textile center through the quilt museum, which is well known in the US and internationally. AP was particularly pleased to show quilts at the museum given that several AP quilts have been assembled by Barbara Barber and Allison Wilbur from New England.

Allison’s own organization, Quilt for Change, joined AP as a co-sponsor of the exhibition. This was the second time the two groups had joined forces to show quilts, and the Lowell exhibition again underscored their different but complementary approaches. AP helps marginalized groups in the Global South to tell their story through embroidery of weaving and asks American quilters to assemble the quilts. Quilt for Change asks American quilters to make and donate quilts on a development issue. Several of Alison’s quilts were on the theme of solar energy.

This was the first public showing of Henna Pride, from India. This spectacular quilt is made up of hands painted with henna that are overlaid on a dark blue background that grows lighter towards the edges. The hands are reaching up, as if seeking to escape from the dark. The hands were painted in the state of Gujarat, India, by gay and transgender artists under the auspices of the Vikalp Women’s Group. Vikalp, an AP partner, advocates for the rights of tribal women and members of the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) community. Peace Fellow Gisele Bolton helped the artists and brought the squares back to the US, where they were assembled by John Anderson and Nancy Evans.

Allison Wilbur, from Quilt for Change, and Iain Guest from AP at the opening of the Lowell exhibition.

Experts from the museum were full of praise for Henna Pride. Pamela Weeks, curator at the Museum observed: “This is a wonderful example of an art that is typical of the region from whence it comes and yet is transformed by an American quilter. It starts with a dark center representing the darkness of being alone, of persecution, and then it gets brighter. What I have learned in my years as a curator is that every quilt has a story to tell – whether it’s a mid-19th century New England family through a signature quilt or transgender people from India. Quilts are objects of comfort that can be used to tell stories. These are beautiful quilts that tell difficult stories.”

Nora Burchfield, Executive Director of the Museum, agreed. “It’s a difficult story to tell in a way that’s accessible. People respond to quilts. They pull you in and they are non-threatening, but at the same time you are telling a story that is very sad. It’s an impressive exhibition.”

Ten AP partners from 8 countries provided the following quilts for the Lowell exhibition: Henna Pride (India); the River Gypsy Quilt (Bangladesh); the Rehema Widows’ Quilt (Kenya); the Women’s Microcredit Quilt (Bangladesh); the Belize Forest Quilt; the Fifth Ahadi (Promise) Quilt (DRC); the Romano Trajo (Roma Life) Quilt (Lithuania); the Second Mahilako Swastha (Women’s Health) Quilt (Nepal); the Chintan Wastepickers’ Quilt (India); and the Gracanica Roma Quilt (Kosovo).

Salve Regina University, Newport, Rhode Island, March 8 – March 16, 2016

Elegant setting: The exhibition was held at Ochre Court, overlooking the ocean

Salve Regina University used 19 advocacy quilts to make a powerful plea for compassion and mercy at an elegant exhibition in March.

The exhibition, “A Global Call for Mercy – Vulnerable Communities Speak Out Through Quilts,” was held at Ochre Court, a spectacular university building that overlooks the ocean, between March 8 and March 16. The show attracted scores of students, staff, Newport residents and quilters from the region.

The exhibition was organized by students in the Nuala Pell Leadership Program at Salve Regina and arranged around the themes of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, a year-long campaign for social justice launched by Pope Francis. The themes were nonviolence; women; earth and the environment; immigration; racism; and children. Salve Regina was founded by the Catholic Sisters of Mercy and is deeply committed to the Jubilee mission.

Alexis Jankowski, left, a student docent and team leader, with Bobbi Fitzsimmons, who assembled two quilts in the exhibition from Kosovo and Uganda

This was the first exhibition of advocacy quilts organized by students, and in keeping with the academic purpose each of the Salve Regina students acted as a docent for one of the themes. The students visited AP in Washington and took inspiration from their message. “Many of the images are graphic, but these are personal statements and a plea to be heard,” said Kay Scanlan, a sophomore at Salve Regina and student leader who spoke at the reception.

Alexis Jankowski, another team leader, served as the docent for the women’s quilts and said she had learned a lot from the quilts and from explaining their message: “Newport does have that reputation about being about money, but there really are a lot of genuine, caring and interested people (here). It taught me a lot about the Newport community and the communities we were representing.” Alexis and the other docents are profiled on the next tab to this page and feature in this video produced by Salve Regina on the event.

Kathryn Clancy, a student from the Nuala Pell program, described quilts on the theme of children

More than 150 individuals from the Global South, almost all of them women and children, contributed embroidered squares for the 19 quilts on display. This was the first public showing for the Mali Camel Quilt, which was embroidered by women from northern Mali while they were recovering from war rape at a center in Bamako run by Sini Sanuman, an AP partner. The squares were assembled by Merry May, from the South Shore Stitchers Guild in Marmora, New Jersey.

Most of the quilts on display were put together in the US by American quilters and three attended the March 10 reception. Bobbi Fitzsimmons, who worked on the Gracanica quilt from Kosovo and the Child Protection Quilt – which was made by families that lost children to child sacrifice – drove from North Carolina for the event.

The Mali Camel Quilt was exhibited for the first time at Salve Regina

Two quilters from Rhode Island also attended. Allison Wilbur, a long-time partner of AP and founder of Quilt for Change, led the quilting of the Chintan Wastepickers’ Quilt. Ruth Sears, president of Quilters by the Sea, a guild in Portsmouth RI, also worked on the Chintan quilt and praised the exhibition. “I’m very impressed. It’s amazing to see all the work and the fantastic things that have been depicted here. But it’s (also) kind of sad to hear the stories.”

Following the reception, Kathryn Clancy, another of the Salve Regina docents, exhibited several quilts on the theme of children at the Thompson Middle School in Newport town, accompanied by Iain Guest from AP. The students, aged from 11 to 12, reflected the diversity of America and came from countries as diverse as Bulgaria, India, Yemen and Ethiopia.

Students at the Thompson Middle School in Newport admire the Maasai Girls’ Quilt

The students seemed particularly impressed by the Maasai Girls’ Quilt, which expresses the dreams of Maasai schoolgirls, and the Chintan Wastepickers’ quilt, which was painted onto scraps of recycled clothing by children who were rescued from garbage in Delhi. Following the presentation, Lisa Olaynack, their teacher, launched a competition for the best product made from recycling.

Salve Regina posted this video on the exhibition after the event. AP also showed three videos of quilts being made at the reception – the Ahadi quilts from the DRC; the River Gypsy quilt from Bangladesh; and the Nunca Mas quilts from Peru. All are available on the AP Youtube site.

Seven Students Who Will Manage the Salve Regina Quilt Show


Kay Scanlan is a sophomore in the Nuala Pell Leadership Program at Salve Regina University. Kay is studying Psychology and English Literature. A student from New Hampshire, Kay is involved in the SRU Community Orchestra, having played violin since the age of 5. She enjoys working in the Salve Admissions Office as an ambassador for prospective students. She hopes that this project will open up conversation for the communities who create these tragically beautiful quilts, in an effort to share their message with the Salve Regina community and inspire others to support their cause.


Amanda Reis is a sophomore in the Nuala Pell Leadership Program at Salve Regina University. Amanda is majoring in Global Business and Economics, accompanied by a double minor in Business Administration and Sociology/Anthropology. A student from Boston, Massachusetts, Amanda participates in the Multicultural Student Organization and looks forward to start tutoring her fellow students at the university in the near future. She hopes that this project will succeed in its efforts to raise awareness regarding pressing issues, and prompt the community to reach out to the disenfranchised who hope to tell their stories through these magnificent quilts


Brittany Fox is currently a sophomore in the Nuala Pell Leadership Program at Salve Regina University. From Hopedale, Massachusetts, Brittany is studying History with a concentration in European history and a minor in English Literature. She is currently the treasurer of two clubs on campus, the English Guild and Protect Our Wildlife, while also working in the campus archives. Brittany wishes to increase awareness about the key elements of Salve’s initiative during the Jubilee Year of Mercy through the medium of the quilts.


Jake Lang is a sophomore fellow in the Nuala Pell Leadership Program. Jake is a Philosophy and Political Science double major from North Attleboro, Massachusetts. He is hoping to go to Law School after he graduates from Salve Regina. Jake is a big sports fan and loves playing and coaching basketball in his free time. He hopes that this project will open the eyes of the younger generation to the big problems of the world.


Kathryn Clancy of Chelmsford, Massachusetts is a sophomore in the Nuala Pell Leadership Program at Salve Regina University. She is currently studying Elementary and Special Education and serves as Public Relations Coordinator for the Student Education Association. Kathryn also enjoys her position as a staff writer for The Odyssey Online. Kathryn hopes that this event will bring awareness to the issues faced by marginalized communities throughout the world, and inspire our own community to look for ways to create change.


Alexis Jankowski, a Massachusetts native, is a Sophomore Fellow of the Nuala Pell Leadership Program at Salve Regina University. Alexis’s academic studies include a major in Psychology and minors in Neuroscience as well as Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is a Resident Advisor on campus and plays percussion in the Newport Community Symphonic Band. Alexis believes that the Jubilee Year of Mercy provides a perfect opportunity to spread the stories and voices of the people who made these striking quilts in conjunction with the Advocacy Project.


Luc Copeland is a sophomore in the Nuala Pell Leadership Program at Salve Regina University. Luc is currently pursuing a Nursing degree in the Salve Regina Nursing School. A student from Michigan, Luc is involved in student athletics and clubs. He is a proud member of the Salve Regina Men’s Lacrosse team and part of the Student Nurses Organization and Canine Club. Luc is excited that this project will generate conversation about the communities who make these incredible, provocative quilts, in an effort to share their struggle with the world.

AP on Flickr

A photo on Flickr
A photo on Flickr
A photo on Flickr
A photo on Flickr
A photo on Flickr
A photo on Flickr