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The Thread Project
an article by Terry Helwig

For the past six years, I have been working on an international project that involves seven 12 x 7 foot cloths much like the one shown here. The symbolism of this particular cloth called "Dawn Looming" is about new awareness dawning in world consciousness. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

The odyssey of The Thread Project: One World, One Cloth began as my response to 9/11. Since then, seven world cloths, each a different color of the color spectrum and representing the seven continents, have been woven from the individual threads gathered world-wide. These threads have been pulled from people's clothing, fishing rods, shoes, baby booties, wedding veils, guitars, even a piece of bicycle tire. We have several threads from 9/11 families, one from the Killing Fields in Cambodia, a holocaust survivor and a leper colony in Calcutta. Then, forty-nine women in 14 countries dressed their looms often inviting others to help weave these threads into the most diverse cloth ever woven. Hundreds of children and tens of thousands of people have helped create this awesome cloth which was exhibited for several months at St. Paul's Chapel across from Ground Zero in NYC for the 5-year anniversary of 9/11.

The World Cloths are a repository of human experience and goodwill; each thread is spun with the story of the individual who sent it. After reading a thousand letters, I am convinced that we are weaving more than cloth; we are also weaving a social fabric that celebrates diversity, encourages tolerance and promotes compassionate community—what I consider to be the qualities needed to sow (sew) peace. What better way to symbolically mend our world than with a thread?

We are having an International Exhibition of the cloths in Charleston, SC this September. Eighteen of our 49 weavers plan to join us and meet each other for the first time. Lacking funds and visas, we only have two weavers joining us from outside the US, but we are hopeful that a weaver from Sioux Lookout, Ontario and El Salvador will be able to join us. At the opening of the exhibit we will premier a one-act play, written by me and actress Carol Anderson, called "The Thread Narratives: Real Threads and True Stories." It tells how one thread became an international project and it brings to life more than 70 of the letters we have received over the years--some of them quite poignant.

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Question(s) related to this article:

How can artists work together to promote a culture of peace?,

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Latest reader comment:

This discussion question applies to the following articles:

The Thread Project
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Shades, an Anti-war Play, Opens to Rave Reviews in Los Angeles
A Song for the International Day of Friendship

This report was posted on July 5, 2007.