Continuing my series of posts on the Quilters Take Manhattan (QTM) 2017 event I recently attended that began with the Sunday 09/17/17 post The “Dance Partner” – Michael Cummings at QTM 2017.
I could not decide whether to title this post “Spiritual Quilting”, “Quilting for the Spirit”, “Soul Quilting”, or “Quilting for the Soul” related to sharing highlights of Sherri Lynn Wood’s presentation at the QTM 2017.
Sherri Lynn Wood, author of The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously (2015) is not only an improvisational quilter but is also a former Divinity School student who I feel now practices a Ministry of Healing through Textile Arts.
You might be familiar with Sherri Lynn Wood if you follow her blog, dainty time.net and/or if belong to her Facebook group The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters. Here is Sherri at QTM 2017 in front of one of her iconic pieces; as well as her signing copies of her Improv Handbook:
Here is another one of her iconic improvisational quilts:
You might also be familiar with the Artist in Residence (AIR) residency she had a Recology in San Francisco where she and a group of other artists were given free reign of materials from a city’s dump to create art for a Modern Art exhibit of recycled art. Ms. Wood presented an excellent presentation on her Recology Residency and the amazing pieces of textile art she made from discarded items. Ms. Wood stated she even found a sewing machine, sewing supplies, thread, materials for batting, etc. in the city dump to use to create her art!
Below is an example of one of those pieces she had on display at QTM – a quilt made from discarded military uniform pants, using the length and lines of the pants as part of her quilt design.
What you might not know about Sherri Lynn Wood, is that she has what I would consider a “Quilting Ministry” and part of that ministry is her Passage Quilting program where she helps individuals deal with grief and loss through creating a quilt (even if they have never quilted before) made from clothes of the deceased.
Ms. Wood shared this heart wrenching, amazing and beautiful story of a young woman who lost her fiancé due to a sudden tragedy. A short time after that loss, Ms. Wood helped this woman to make a Passage Quilt from her fiancé’s favorite clothing. It was an incredibly difficult process but the woman stated it had a tremendous impact on having her work through her grief. Ms. Wood had on display at QTM one of the Passage Quilts:
She also has a project where she works with individuals and families who have lost a loved one in combat/while serving in the military to sew a coffin onto a remembrance quilt as part of their healing process. She shared several powerful stories and images of families who lost their military family members sewing together as part of their healing. Below is one of these quilts:
She also works with communities to create community quilts where anyone no matter what level of sewing skill can participate.
The general themes of her presentation were:
- Building community through craft
- Honoring the earth through working with recycled materials; and by creating art from the discarded
- Healing and grief work through tactile textile experiences
I was already a “super-fan” of Sherri Lynn Wood before meeting her and I have read Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously from cover to cover. I was deeply touched by Ms. Wood’s presentation (tears filled my eyes at times) – my spirit and my soul felt stirred and moved by her stories and images.
This is the reason for the title to this post – “Spiritual Quilting”. I am not referring to religious or a specific faith-based quilting. I am thinking of quilting, fabric, textiles, as a medium for hope, healing and community. For me, these are part of the foundation of spirituality.
I did have my “fan-girl” moment and upon arriving at the QTM conference center in the morning and spotting Sherri Lynn Wood setting up her quilts for display, I thanked her for her wonderful book, the inspiration, and gave her a little wallet I had made from scraps specifically for her:
Speaking of “fan-girl” moments for me at QTM 2017, I got a chance to meet in person Dr. Carolyn L. Mazloomi, founder of the Women of Color Quilting Network (WCQN) . I of course made her a special little wallet too, just tiny tokens for great women who inspire me! Her little wallet was inspired by her incredible Black & White art quilts!
More on that in my next post and at some point I will share my experience going on a behind the scenes tour of the Antonio Ratti Textile Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; seeing one of my blogging buddies pieces at QTM 2017 (Mary P. of Zippy Quilts!) and meeting a fellow blogging buddy of Mary’s at the event; and more (I have a lot to share but I not mapped out the organization of this series of posts, ha!)
(Plus I will share a valuable lesson of how you should not try to cram too much into one weekend…I am currently recovering from a wicked cold!)
Feature photo credit: Nadia Szopińska, free images.com