Patterns and prints lay strewn about the table amongst fabric scissors, sewing needles, and trimmings. Chatter filled the air with warm memories, igniting a smile on each present face. Artist Amy Wilson was busy attending to each needle that needed threading, and each question that needed answering. The Disappearing Cities quilting workshop’s first meeting was officially underway, and these ladies meant business. That Thursday morning in February (February 5, 2015), the Hudson Guild buzzed with excitement and ideas as eleven of the community’s senior citizens came together to create a lasting testament to their memories in the form of a quilt. This was nothing like I had imagined our program would be. There was so much commotion, so much lively discussion, and so many vivid memories flowing out of each of these incredible people. In our preparation for the workshop, I had hoped for everything to run smoothly and for each senior to feel engaged in the project—what I got was an overwhelming surge of enthusiasm. Conversational topics ranged from healthcare to the most recent episode of True Detective. Each participant reflected on their neighborhood as they cut out images from maps and spoke about the changes they witnessed within the city. While many of the women were originally from New York, some of them recalled memories from their first neighborhoods in South Carolina, Virginia, and elsewhere. Each of the seniors had their own approach to the quilt-making process; Evangeline was very organized and logical in her planning, and wanted to make sure that her quilt was well-balanced in color and pattern. She provided the group with many topics of discussion as she happily arranged her squares in different ways, making sure they were exactly how she liked. May worked diligently, getting up for coffee every now and then. Another woman set up her own table and powered ahead of the whole group, keeping her head down and her eye on the prize. Over the course of the first class she sewed together all of her squares and trim with immaculate technique. While some of the women were primarily concerned with the physical manifestation of their memories, others were more focused on the experience of community centered around the creative process. By the conclusion of our first class, I had been given a nickname and plenty of smiles to last me until our next meeting.
-Text and images by Brooke Latham. Brooke is our public programing intern and assistant to our collaborating artist Amy Wilson on her Disappearing Cities. Brooke is a student at the School of Visual Arts majoring in Visual and Critical Studies. As an intern for More Art, she assists in the planning and execution of the Disappearing Cities quilting program with artist Amy Wilson. In 2011, she moved from her home in Dallas, TX to New York, NY to pursue her interests in the visual arts, bringing with her a versatile range of interests and skills. She is currently focusing on textiles and fiber arts as well as art theory and art history. Her passions include but are not limited to language and communication, world cultures (especially Eastern cultures), philosophy, and most importantly the relationships between these interests.