ANNOUNCEMENT: Launching the Monument Quilt History Series!
By Shanti Flagg, FORCE Studio Director & Collective Member
The Monument Quilt project began in 2013, and will culminate in 2019 in a massive display that will transform the National Mall in Washington, DC into a public healing space for survivors. We have collected over 3,000 stories from survivors around the country – and we’re still counting! Today the Monument Quilt is FORCE’s most established project, and has become a fixture of Baltimore’s art landscape and this country’s anti-sexual violence work. Nobody predicted what an enormous undertaking this project would be, or how it would evolve from a single square at one of the project founder’s kitchen tables to a celebration of thousands of voices over many years.
Once a project becomes established, its history tends to become invisible. It seems perpetual. However, this project didn’t spring up fully formed. The ideas of quilting for resistance, healing through community art, and expressing hard truths aren’t new. FORCE was founded by two individuals, Hannah Brancato and Rebecca Nagle. Today, we function with a staff of three (Saida, me, and Hannah), a volunteer Leadership Team of twenty, and an incredible network of thousands of people who unwaveringly believe in the work. The Monument Quilt owes its existence to countless activists, artists, organizers, and driven individuals in Baltimore and around the country. The project’s foundation is a centuries-long history of artists and activists making seemingly impossible things happen with their dedicated work, unique skills, and passion for justice. The Names Project is an extremely important part of this history, and one we will explore further in this series.
At FORCE, we hold honoring people’s labor and ideas as one of our central values. We seek to meaningfully create an example of how art and organizing can honor everyone who is a part of the work. We live in a world that more often than not tends to ignore the work and value of those who don’t scream and push to be recognized. We hope to model a different tradition at FORCE, where people’s contributions are honored without them having to insist on it. This is why we are exited to launch the Monument Quilt History Series!
In this series, we will be interviewing individuals who contributed in a big way to the Monument Quilt’s existence and reach who we feel we haven’t yet adequately honored for their contribution. We hope to shed light on what it takes to create a project like the Monument Quilt. So many people and ideas are sewn into this project and it would be nothing like it is today without this wide variety of deep contributions.
Every month, we will be honoring a different individual whose vision and work created what the Monument Quilt is today. I’m so excited to think of people getting to learn how big art projects happen, and just how many unbelievably impressive people are involved. Working at FORCE for me has opened my eyes to how many truly exceptional people are in the world. We can accomplish amazing things when we come together with respect, compassion, open-mindedness, and art.
Stay tuned for our first featured leader, whose interview will be posted soon!