What Happened at the Fuller, Did Not Stay at the Fuller

 Dear Welcome Blanket Community,

First, thank you! This is a huge crowd-sourced artistic action that would not be possible without you. (And if you are thinking of joining in, we need you!)

Welcome Blanket is about crafting the world we wish to see.

Welcome Blanket reimagines the 2000 mile distance of the proposed border wall between Mexico and the United States as 2000 miles of yarn to make Welcome Blanket gifts for refugees and other new immigrants coming to the US. With each blanket, we ask the maker/s for a story important to her family about immigration, migration, or relocation and words of welcome for our newest neighbors. These beautiful gifts are sent to a host to be displayed together to make a powerful visual and physical statement. Then, after the close of the exhibition, they are distributed through our refugee resettlement partners to their final homes.

In our first go around with our inaugural host, the Smart Museum of Art at University of Chicago, we reached the goal. But do we keep going, yes! It is my dream to make Welcome Blanket an American tradition.

Welcome Blanket at Fuller Craft, our third host!

Welcome Blanket at Fuller Craft, our third host!

So, this past winter we teamed up with our wonderful hosts, Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts.  One of the organizations that we partnered with to give these gorgeous gifts is ACE, African Community Education in Worchester, Massachusetts. Their students come from many nations across Africa, and the organization is focused on helping them achieve their goals. There are formal classes, tutoring, arts opportunities, family outreach and more.

 

THE BEST EMAIL

 Tim O’Neil, the marketing and fundraising manager at ACE sent this email and with his permission I am sharing it with you:

 Hello, Jayna! 

I am the Marketing & Fundraising Manager for African Community Education, one of the recipients of Welcome Blankets on behalf of your partnership with the Fuller Craft Museum. I wanted to reach out with a giant THANK YOU for your work in making ACE a part of the Welcome Blanket Project. 

Our staff was nearly in tears when they arrived at our office. We delivered the blankets to our families this Saturday, and the smiles were uncontrollable! Please see the attached pictures and also the links below for posts on our social media accounts: 

https://www.facebook.com/aceworcester/posts/2683975374952903 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BwASZTBHvOz/

https://twitter.com/aceworcester/status/1115321178820890629 

This project is so inspiring, impactful, and needed. Thank you for all you do! 

 Best,

Tim

(Did you tear up, too? I did) Take a look at the image below. The snuggle is real!

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In the midst of everything happening in the immigration space, it is amazing to support organizations helping our newest neighbors thrive and connecting with our newest neighbors. Welcome Blanket is a proactive, creative and physical way to support immigrants. It is literally “doing something,” and it is doing something powerful and kind. Let’s keep going! 

In solidarity and love,

Jayna

 And here are a few more images from ACE:

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Welcome Blanket at Fuller Craft

We are honored to have been part of the Fuller Craft Museum lineup in 2019.

A view of the Welcome Blanket pop up at Fuller Craft

A view of the Welcome Blanket pop up at Fuller Craft

Also on view during the pop up was Tom Kiefer: El Sueño Americano – The American Dream and Mano-Made – New Expression in Craft by Latino Artists . Something that was incredibly moving to me was how Tom Kiefer collected the orphaned objects of migrants and turned their presence into art. Welcome Blanket, in many ways, is a counterpoint to the experience that many people have had of losing the few objects they possessed crossing the border. A Welcome Blanket gift is a practical and symbolic object of welcome and warmth for a new chapter in a new land.

Tom Kiefer’s  El Sueño Americano

Tom Kiefer’s El Sueño Americano

Jaime Guerrero, Gerardo Monterrubio, and Consuelo Jimenez Underwood are the artists of Mano Made, an incredibly powerful and personal show. Part of Jaime Guerrero’s installation were notes of immigration stories that resonated deeply. Here is just one of them.:

Jaime Guerrero in  Mano Made

Jaime Guerrero in Mano Made

If you have a chance to visit Fuller Craft, these intense and thoughtful exhibitions are still on view. Thank you to Fuller Craft for including Welcome Blanket as part of the conversation about immigration and craft.

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Thank you to each and every person who has been participating. The Fuller began documenting the Welcome Blanket submissions at the beginning of March and we are working with them on getting them up on our online gallery. (Note: If you are a person who is great with data and websites and would love to flex your skills for the project, shoot me an email. I would love to streamline this piece so that we can quickly thank all of our participants and share with the wider world what we are doing!)

In solidarity,

Jayna

Welcome Blanket at MODA

We are so honored to have been a part of Betsy Greer’s “Making Change” exhibition at MODA. The Following is a recap of the Welcome Blanket Project at MODA. It has been republished here with permission. Here’s a link to the original.

Welcome Blanket at MODA

At MODA — the only design museum in the southeastern United States — we believe that design inspires change, transforms lives, and makes the world a better place.

Our Summer 2018 exhibition, Making Change: The Art and Craft of Activism, explored Craftivism, a movement at the intersection of traditional crafts and social justice activism. The exhibition was curated by Betsy Greer and designed by Susan Sanders.

At MODA, we seek to create immersive exhibitions that prioritize active inquiry over passive observation. During Making Change, we turned our side gallery into a low-tech maker lab and invited visitors to get involved in three different craftivist projects, including The Welcome Blanket Project, designed by Jayna Zweiman, one of the designers of the pink pussy hat worn at the Women’s March in January 2017.

The Welcome Blanket Project invites individuals across the US to hand make a blanket that will serve as a “warm welcome” for an immigrant or refugee newly arrived in America. As a host of Welcome Blanket, MODA partnered with Zweiman to invite individuals across the country (and beyond) to make blankets and send them to the museum.

The response was inspiring! We received hundreds of Welcome Blankets in the mail — sometimes as many as 50 a day. Blanket makers also included a note that welcomed a new neighbor to our country and told their own immigration story. As the blankets poured in, we unpacked them and admired them, then photographed and cataloged each one, and hung them our side gallery for visitors to enjoy.

We rotated the blankets in the gallery often, and when blankets came off the walls, they were packed up and taken to New American Pathways, Friends of Refugees, Catholic Charities Atlanta, Center for the Victims of Torture, and Refugee Services - Lutheran Services of Georgia, organizations that helped us distribute the blankets to individuals and families just arriving in our country.

Every blanket came with a story that was touching, but one that most caught our attention was that of Kay, a refugee from Burma who now makes her life in Georgia. Since arriving in the US, Kay has become part owner of Tandem Quilting and when she heard about The Welcome Blanket Project, she wanted to participate. She created a beautiful blanket and wrote a note of advice for a someone new to the U.S., including a reminder to “be sure to get to know your neighbors.” The back of Kay’s blanket is made of fabric covered in stars, which she intended as a reminder “that you can always find your way through darkness.”

We displayed Kay’s blanket in the Making Change exhibition, then, with the help of Friends of Refugees, it was given to Muna, a Syrian woman who has just arrived in the U.S. with her family. Muna is expecting her second child at the end of this year and is enrolled in Friends of Refugees’ Embrace Refugee Birth Program. Upon receiving the blanket, she wrapped her son in it.

At MODA, we chose to host the Welcome Blanket because of its power to connect people already living in the United States with our country’s new immigrants through stories and handmade blankets, providing both symbolic and literal comfort and warmth. At the same time, the project offers a positive, hands-on way to confront negative rhetoric about immigration and to privilege the idea of inclusion over exclusion.

To learn more about The Welcome Blanket Project — which originated at the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago and will move to other locations — visit WelcomeBlanket.org.

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Blankets, Baked Goods, and Bands: Helping HIAS Takes Many Forms

We are thrilled to partner with HIAS. And, it’s pretty cool to be in the same space as Hasan Minhaj. The following was reposted with permission. Here is the original

Blankets, Baked Goods, and Bands: Helping HIAS Takes Many Forms

By Sharon Samber, HIAS.org

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To say there have been many good wishes to HIAS over the last few weeks since the tragedy of the Pittsburgh shooting would be an understatement. The outpouring of support has been overwhelming.

Some of those wishes have taken the form of donations–hundreds of people started personal fundraisers, while others just wanted to share personal stories that connected their families to HIAS.

There have also been a number of people and organizations who have felt compelled to try something different, often something creative, to express how they feel or the work that they do. They want to create a message of hope and solidarity, whether it’s through art, or food or music, or something even more unusual.

The examples below are simply meant to give an idea of the varied kinds of support that HIAS has received. They show the best in human nature, the ways people look to make some good out of a disaster and build a new sense of purpose.

The Welcome Blanket Project calls itself a national craftivist project, as it “reconceptualizes” President Trump's 2000-mile concrete border wall into 2000 miles of yarn knitted into welcome blankets for new immigrants and refugees to the U.S. Welcome Blanket asks participants to knit/crochet/quilt/sew welcome blankets and write their family's own immigration stories with words of welcome in accompanying notes. The blankets are displayed in art exhibits and then are distributed to immigrants/refugees through resettlement agencies. Hadassah Margolis, the group’s COO, told HIAS of plans to send blankets to HIAS resettlement partners across the country, and already 300 blankets have been requested.

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“Stronger Than Hate” quickly became the slogan used to show the unity of Pittsburgh and it began to appear everywhere on signs and t-shirts. One local teenager, Gracie Silverstein, had the idea to create necklaces and make a wearable statement of change. In one social media post, the Eagleville high school senior explained: “We must come together and end gun violence. Why not start by wearing a change agent around our neck. Spread love, not hate.” She used the Hebrew words chazak mesinah and in one week received more than 1,000 orders. The necklace is now available in English as well, and Silverstein is donating all of the profits to HIAS.

Many local Pittsburgh establishments such as City Books, a bookstore on the city’s North Side, got involved. Arlan Hess, the store owner, invited a dozen local writers and musicians to come to a “Tree of Life Memorial Reading,” and HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield made a surprise appearance. Members of the Pittsburgh Whiskey Friends will soon host a podcast and tasting panel fundraiser in support of HIAS.

In an unusual charity campaign, the comedian Hasan Minhaj and Comedy Central are auctioning off pairs of specially made sneakers to promote a new show. The proceeds from each $10 donation will go to benefit HIAS.

A number of bands have held fundraisers and the band TWIABP&IANLATD is giving proceeds from the sale of select digital albums to HIAS. At the Belvederes Ultra-Dive bar in Lawrenceville, Pa., DJ Thermos and Sean MC recently hosted a 90s Nite fundraiser for HIAS, donating half the cover charges. Their message for HIAS is a fitting message for all the ongoing projects:

“May they help millions of immigrants and refugees build a new life in America.”

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A number of bands have held fundraisers and the band TWIABP&IANLATD is giving proceeds from the sale of select digital albums to HIAS. At the Belvederes Ultra-Dive bar in Lawrenceville, Pa., DJ Thermos and Sean MC recently hosted a 90s Nite fundraiser for HIAS, donating half the cover charges. Their message for HIAS is a fitting message for all the ongoing projects:

“May they help millions of immigrants and refugees build a new life in America.”

Welcome Blankets arrive just in time for Thanksgiving!

Hello Welcome Blanket community,

In anticipation of Thanksgiving, I want to share this wonderful post from our partner, Center for Victims of Torture. Thank you to MODA, CVT and every person who has been taking part in Welcome Blanket.

In solidarity,

Jayna

This post originally published on Center for Victims of Torture blog and is being reposted with permission.

Welcome Blankets Arrive Just in Time for Thanksgiving

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It’s getting cold outside. For CVT’s torture survivor clients in the U.S., the decrease in temperatures can present a host of new challenges. Many are caught off guard. They don’t have access to winter clothing items or the funds to obtain them. Often they show up to therapy sessions without proper attire, like coats, hats or closed-toed shoes.

“The winter months are extremely difficult for newly arrived immigrants and refugees, since most of them come from warmer climates,” said Dr. Adaobi Iheduru, Psy.D., LP, CVT Atlanta psychotherapist and team lead. “Most of our clients spend their time indoors, worrying about braving the cold.”   

This prompted CVT Atlanta staff to launch an annual winter clothing drive. Since 2016, individuals and organizations across the Atlanta metro area donate clothes, shoes, gloves, hats and coats for CVT clients. This is the first year, however, that the organization received blankets - from volunteers nation-wide - thanks to a special exhibition at the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) that preceded this year’s drive.

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MODA’s Making Change: The Art of Craftivism explored the concept of using arts and craft projects to make a difference. Since the museum encourages patrons to not just observe but interact with the art, the exhibition allowed art-lovers to participate in one of three craftivism projects, like Welcome Blanket.

Led by Jayna Zweiman, co-founder of the Pussyhat project, which designed the original pink hats worn at Women’s March protests across the country in January 2017, Welcome Blanket encourages U.S. arts and crafts enthusiasts to knit handmade blankets for newly arrived immigrants and refugees. MODA in partnership with Welcome Blanket asked volunteers from across the country to do the same, and to send their creations in to the museum.  

Upon the project’s completion, MODA staff contacted CVT supporter Sandra Bedoya-Hanson, who conducted this year’s clothing drive, to donate some of the handmade blankets for CVT clients. Each blanket came with a handwritten welcome note from its creator. One of them reads, “Made for you with love and hope in every stitch.” 

“The handmade cards were an even more thoughtful touch,” said Client Services Coordinator Stephanie Swafford, who picked up the donated blankets from MODA last week. “The blankets are soft and cozy, just the right size for babies and children.”

Her colleague Dr. Iheduru was similarly blown away by the quality of the blankets. She noted how beautiful and well-made they were, and remains in awe of the dedication it must have taken for MODA volunteers to create each unique blanket and mail them in from across the country.

“This is a true display of welcome to immigrants and refugees,” she said. “’Made for you with love and hope in every stitch’ is truly moving and impactful, a message we need our clients to hear.”

Continue the kindness! Make a financial or in-kind donation to CVT.

By Sabrina Crews, marketing communications specialist

Repairing the world

 
TALMUD
 

(Originally posted on Instagram 10/27/18)

The terrorist attack at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh is devastating and terrifying. And we are all connected to it. 


Just the other day I posted almost giddy about our wonderful Pittsburgh partners @helloneighborhq and last week about @hiasrefugees as a partner for #refugeeshabbat. These are amazing organizations doing the good work, fighting the good fight. One horrible terrorist was obsessed with the work of HIAS and refugees. Too many people lost their lives because of his hate and fear. We at #welcomeblanket are a community of people of many faiths and non-faiths coming together to support our newest neighbors. We stand with the Jewish community, we stand with the people of Pittsburgh (at least one welcome blanket participant lives walking distance to the synagogue), we stand with @hias and @helloneighborhq and with all our refugee neighbors. 


Welcome Blanket is about reimagining the distance of the proposed border wall as a length of inclusion- 2000 miles of yarn to make individual welcome blankets for new refugees coming to the US. It gives us all a chance to physically create for our newest neighbors and share our stories about immigration, migration, and relocation. It makes space to connect and welcome. Creating and participating in this project has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I have gotten to know a community of stellar individuals who are working together to take a stand with kindness and to repair the world. 


A dear Christian friend asked me what she could do to support the Jewish community. I say please stand up and speak out when you see injustice and hate... and vote. Vote for the people you think can help make our society better and can help repair our world. And, when in doubt, be kind. 


Sending love to all.

-Jayna

Welcome Blankets at Home!

We had a wonderful run with our second host MODA (Museum of Design Atlanta)! Thank you to each and every person who contributed their time and creativity to the project. We are working with MODA to figure out how to share all the images and information they gathered from Welcome Blanket at the “Making Change” exhibition.

Welcome Blanket is continuing! We are lining up new host institutions and working on ways to expand. So, keep making your gorgeous gifts for our new neighbors. We are also looking for additional partners so we can build on Welcome Blanket and grow it into an American tradition. So if you are considering making a Welcome Blanket, do!

Welcome Blankets from the Smart are being distributed to partners across the country. Here’s a pic from a new neighbor’s home in Southern California. As we receive images, I’ll continue to share.

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Welcome Blanket + MODA = Happening!!!

Dear Welcome Blanket Community,

There has been a lot happening behind the scenes, and I am thrilled to announce that we are embarking on a new stage of the project:

MODA (Museum of Design Atlanta) is Welcome Blanket’s new project host!

Welcome Blanket will be part of MODA’s “Making Change: The Art and Craft of Activism” exhibition, from June 3 to September 9, 2018. Betsy Greer is the curator.

Did you…
…start a Welcome Blanket and have yet to finish it? (I have two that are still in pieces, ready to be finished and gifted.) 
…send in a blanket/note package (or three or five) to the Smart Museum and want to do it again? 

…learn about the project but weren’t able to participate the first time?

Welcome Blanket and MODA want you to get involved!

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Please send your Welcome Blanket and note by August 25, 2018 to:
Welcome Blanket
MODA
1315 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30309

Sample PatternNote Template and Gallery of over 3200+ Welcome Blankets and notes that our incredible community has created so far is up on our website.


Some other info:

The Smart Museum, our incredible inaugural host and partner, will be sending some of the Welcome Blankets and notes they received post-deadline to help kick-off the MODA show.

The Smart also is assembling Welcome Blanket packages for distribution to our new neighbors. More news to come on that soon. Readers, if you are ever in Chicago, please stop by this amazing museum and thank its staff for all they have done to help launch Welcome Blanket.

Follow us on social media (and please post using #welcomeblanket). Spread the word!

Thank you to everyone who has been— and continues to be— a part of this project. We are making a powerful, personal gesture of inclusion. When cruelty, racism, and bigotry are eating away at our society, Welcome Blanket harnesses our creativity and community to stand up for those who are marginalized, those who are hurt, those who are often unseen. Together, we say: we are so glad you are here.

In solidarity,

Jayna

Welcome Blanket

What type of community do we wish to craft?

The question lies at the heart of Welcome Blanket. As a crowd-sourced artistic platform, Welcome Blanket offers a personal—and personalized—opportunity to engage in the politics of immigration. It grows stronger with every participant who joins.

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By overlapping art, craft, design, architecture, social activism, political resistance, social media, and civic engagement, Welcome Blanketoffers a concrete way to explore abstract ideas. Not only by making the concept of a 2,000-mile border wall tangible through yards of yarn, but also by blurring the spaces between individual stories and collective conversations. It connects a large-scale installation in a museum gallery with small-scale local craft circles with single links between a blanket maker and a new neighbor.

How do we make large-scale civic engagement meaningful, positive, and creative for each individual?

How do we intimately understand international crises?

How do we share our singular stories in an understandable way?

Instead of debate and posts, we should be having conversations about these questions. While knitting, makers think about our new neighbors, immigration policy, and how to create communities of welcome. It is an opportunity to contemplate together in groups or in private moments of reflection.

I have two hopes with Welcome Blanket: I hope that whoever enters this gallery experiences the power of craft to transmit crucial, timely ideas. And I hope that our new neighbors who receive these gifts will feel welcomed and reach back to the makers of their blankets. It is our diversity, our multiple perspectives and personal stories that create the fabric of our society.

-Jayna Zweiman
(originally published on the Smart Museum Blog)