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Activist Art
an article by Dia Penning

I am a textile Artist based out of Chicago, IL USA. Over the last year I have worked on a quilt called the "National Security Blanket." It is a project that contains peoples visions for a nonviolent world. The first quilt, completed Sept 11, 2002 has 25 different interpretations for a peaceful planet. These have been collected from elementary students, professional artists, advanced quilters, college students and professors, and everyday people wanting some way to use their voices to support a movement of peace.

I have decided to start another one year project, now directed at individuals that are interested in expressing their peaceful hope, wishes and prayers for the middle east. Unlike the first one, which was primarily visual, this quilt will have peoples written voices which I will transfer onto material and then stitch into a quilt.

I am looking for guidance on what to do with these quilts. I look at them not only as protest but also as a visual interpretation of the many people in the world that would like to create a community around peaceful action.

Quilting is built on community involvement and collaboration and with these quilts I like to look at the idea that we will one day be able to piece things that are very different, together, to create blankets of security and understanding.


Question(s) related to this article:

Do the arts create a basis for a culture of peace?, What is, or should be, their role in our movement?

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Latest reader comment:

Yes, the arts do create a basis for a culture of peace.
The question I would raise is where are the visual artists who have produced a Guernica like painting of Felluja? Paintings last longer than photographs which are too often fleeting.
Do the poets against the war meet annually?
I caught a bit of an interesting tv show which featured world class artists such as Wole Soyinka speaking in Israel/Palestine about ways to further the peace movement there. Did anyone else see the entire show?
I hope a local Peace Day could emulate the UN opening ceremony .

This report was posted on September 17, 2002.