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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

The Faith Quilts Project: Transcending Boundaries

A quilt of many faiths.
A quilt of many faiths.

When one steps into the DeFarrari gallery of the Boston Public Library, you may not notice right away the two giant quilts hanging on the walls above the stairs. They are very inconspicuous, and people most likely just walk by without giving them a further look. But the inspiration and the story behind these quilts are something truly extraordinary. Clara Wainwright, a Boston-based artist best known for creating the New Year’s Eve celebration First Night, got the idea for the Faith Quilts Project while watching a powerful Frontline documentary, “Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero.” She said, “After September 11, I became fascinated by the power of faith for both good and evil. I decided to explore different faiths through the medium of quilts, which seemed a positive gesture in such a polarized world.” The quilts are made to express visually the differences as well as similarities in Boston’s religious communities. The purpose is to engage the various groups in dialogue in order to learn and respect each other’s strongly held beliefs. There were 68 people from different faith traditions that participated in making the quilts. At first, the people who joined came to Wainwright’s studio and answered questions about their spiritual journeys. Then, they quilted self-portraits along with important symbols of their religions, and they were all placed together on one quilt. The quilts at the Boston Public Library are the portraits of the people who came to the studio. They are various colors with lots of purple with metallic gold, and inspirational words extrapolated from their conversations sprouting from the portraits, such as “We used to think that science would answer all our questions and solve all the mysteries, but the more we learn, the more mysterious our world becomes.” The first Faith Quilt was made by Muslim Pakistani, Palestinian, and Indonesian women from the Wayland Mosque. It was started at the onset of the war with Iraq, and, ironically, the women made the quilt in a church where Sunday school classes were being held. Everyone involved in the project is moved by what they have experienced. “I’m in awe and amazement to be a participant in the Faith Quilts Project,” said Vicky Bailey, the lead quilter. “This is evolving into a very spiritually powerful and artistically challenging experience for me.” People from different faiths may have varying views of the world, but they all have one thing in common: they believe in something greater than themselves. Making quilts that express diversity embraces cultures and brings people together. Even though the people may pray in different ways, all religions have the common thread that they have faith in the beauty of the world and their God. Making quilts doesn’t hurt anybody; it is simply a way for people to express themselves and what they believe. The entire project will take three years, with a culmination in April 2006 at the Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama. Filmmakers are documenting the journey all the way, and they will make a 20-minute film for the purposes of interfaith dialogue. The quilts will be displayed in several locations through the two years, including Boston City Hall, Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, and Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester.

For more info go to www.faithquilts.org or see the quilts themselves at the Boston Public Library 700 Boylston St. in Copley Square.