PRISON AWARENESS QUILT
This project is an artistic collaboration between Eliza Redmann (Folded Poetry), Carlos Gonzáles (NC Mosaics), David Wilson (public artist), and Owens Daniels (photography). Arise Collective is the facilitating project organizer, with funding provided by Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in partnership with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
In 2020, within weeks of the initial COVID-19 outbreak in North Carolina, the virus began to deeply impact the lives of women serving sentences at the NC Correctional Institution for Women (NCCIW). Visitations and programming stopped, people became sick, and most hours of the day were spent confined to one's bedspace. At the Canary Unit, the minimum-security prison at NCCIW, the Handmade and Totally Special (H.A.T.S.) group began to think of ways they could stay engaged in something meaningful despite the COVID-related restrictions placed on their already restricted lives.
These resident artists sought healing through crochet, a historically female-identified art form in a medium created for comfort, warmth, and versatility, and one of the few artistic media available to them; the three-inch plastic hooks and yarn being deemed no risk to the institution. They envisioned a quilt that could travel in the community to tell their stories and hopefully change the general perception of who they are as people. The quilt was finished just before Mother's Day 2021, a date marking over a year of being unable to physically see their children and families.
The original quilt, ideas, talents, interests, and personal narratives of women with carceral experience are why we have invited this phenomenal team of NC artists to create a permanent, prison awareness experience. The art represents mothers, sisters, daughters, tias (aunties), and loved ones; women driven to succeed in a world that so often tells them no, you cannot.
The proposed artwork will replicate this quilt in mosaic and mixed-media form for both traveling and permanent installation, while a QR code on the art will lead to an educational, interactive website. Our project also includes workshops facilitated by artist team members geared toward women in reentry and their loved ones, so that they can experience continued healing through the claiming of their stories, recognizing that they are not alone.
This project is being funded by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in partnership with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as part of the second cohort of their Inclusive Public Arts Program, which supports commemorative and artist commissions – specifically focused on underrepresented narratives and communities.