Brigid Smith

Brigid is a rising junior at the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota majoring in Political Science, with an interest in international studies. Having grown up in Germany, Saudi Arabia, and El Salvador, Brigid hopes to continue working in various countries, especially within the sector of international development. Additionally, with experience as a peer writing tutor and activities volunteer at a health and rehab center, Brigid is drawn to projects where she can collaborate and learn from those around her. She was especially drawn to the Advocacy Project because of their unique, community-based approach for development, which she is particularly interested in.

Ode to Quilting

30 Jul

A Gift Recognized

A specific childhood memory of mine is my grandma and grandpa saying, “Brigid, you really have a gift.” They had just bought me a huge notebook filled with large, blank sheets of paper (which, for me, garnered feelings equivalent to running in a wide-open field or trotting through freshly fallen snow). My grandparents never let me forget how much I loved drawing and painting, two skills which they’ve helped cultivate by constantly purchasing me art supplies and gracefully complementing my most recent works.

Possibly the earliest piece of evidence capturing my love of art.

Perhaps in an attempt to remain humble, I have always let the idea that I was in any way “gifted” with artistic skill go in one ear and out the other. Still, this has never stopped me from adoring an empty canvas, new watercolor set, or the smell of freshly sharpened pencils.

Hidden Talents

My father is often my partner in crime during my art sessions. I swear one of his many life dreams is to move to a distant city and travel with a collapsible easel by his side. Anytime I laid out my watercolors or pens he would be working along, right there next to me.

Due to my perceptive nature and tendency to over-analyze things, I always sensed he was unsatisfied with his work. My dad often claimed his drawings were too squished and mine were somehow “better.” This is all to say I always felt as if I was serving as a channel for him to finally accomplish his dream of becoming a successful artist.

More recently, however, my dad has found a passion for poetry. His skills are unrivaled by anyone I’ve ever seen that wasn’t old, dead, or required to be read for high school English class. More importantly, he now recognizes poetry as his avenue for art…

You see, my dad understands that he is an artist… just not in the way he originally planned.

AP: A Channel for Expression

One example of the many quilt squares made by partners of AP. This square is from the Fourth Middle Eastern Refugee Quilt, produced in Jordan. Each flower in the image reflects a challenge overcome by the artist.

Being involved with the Advocacy Project over the last two months has introduced me to two other forms of art: embroidery and quilting. I assisted with the Sister Artists auction in June and have become acquainted with various quilt projects (in hopes to jump-start the creation of a quilt catalogue for AP).

One captivating thing about these quilts is how varied they are. Some are from Latin America in Belize and Peru, others from Africa in Mali and Kenya… Some are stitched, others painted… Some are about animals, others about sexual assault…

But what is truly captivating is how they display the ability for humans to tell their stories through art.

Ecasa Mwenembele from the Democratic Republic of the Congo poses with her quilt square (shown right).

This more somber image by Ecasa Mwenembele warns other Congolese women: collect water and firewood and tend to the fields in groups.


What Would Life Be Without Art?

Before arriving at AP I was greatly unfamiliar with quilting and embroidery. Yet, amidst my exploration for an internship this past spring, I discovered and was drawn to the AP website’s “Quilts” tab. Using art to not only share stories but allow others to work through difficult emotions was something my inward “gift” of art deeply connected with.

Art can be a product of trauma. I may ignorantly say I’ve never been affected by any extremely traumatic events, but I do know that art has always been, and will continue to be, a large part of my life (whether it be in the form of music, drawing, writing, dancing, theater, or quilting). After all, in a world that is confusing, sad, and lately very unhappy, can’t we all just enjoy the joy and solace that art brings, whatever form it’s in.

And remember… Just as my dad figured out, to be an artist does not mean you have to be “good” at drawing… only open to trying something new!

Posted By Brigid Smith

Posted Jul 30th, 2020


  • Bobbi Fitzsimmons

    July 31, 2020


    Brigid, this ode to quilting hits so close to home for me. I’ve made quilts for many years and have come to appreciate the many reasons for making them – far beyond something to keep you warm. How fortunate that you have recognized the art and artistry and purpose of quilts and quiltmakers so early in your work with them. Thank you from the quiltmakers of the world for this recognition.

  • Brigid Smith

    August 4, 2020


    Bobbi I am so glad I was able to capture some of your feelings and passion in this blog. Getting to meet you (kind of) and learn more about your story has been such a privilege!

  • Alexandra Mayer

    August 4, 2020


    Brigid, this post was so well written and touching! I laughed, and cooed. I also find the comments between you and Bobbie to be very touching. I really believe that joy in spite of oppression and struggle can be a form of rebellion. I think the quilting projects that AP supports demonstrate this fact. In the face of hardship, people can still create.

  • Iain Guest

    August 6, 2020


    Such a nice, warm blog! And such a rich exchange between two artists – Brigid and Bobbi! Brigid, you and your Dad seem to be two of a kind! I’m so glad that your time at AP has helped you to see the broader uses of art, and how many different ways there are to tell a story, even when it comes to something as apparently straightforward as quilting. We’re always trying to push into new areas at AP and you’ve helped us enormously by coming up with great ideas and by staying positive and encouraging. Your flair has been put to good use this summer!

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