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Welcome Blanket: An Exhibition + Conversation with Jayna Zweiman
August 4, 2022 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Welcome Blanket is a platform for engagement that transforms the abstract concept of immigration into a tangible crowd-sourced artistic action. Handcraft makers are invited to make Welcome Blankets that include notecards with stories important to their families about immigration/migration/relocation to create symbolic and practical gifts of welcome for new refugees coming to the United States. These gifts are collected, catalogued, and displayed at art institutions and exhibitions. After each show’s close, Welcome Blanket’s 30+ partner refugee resettlement groups present these tangible gifts of welcome to our newest neighbors.
Welcome Blanket makes its inaugural Los Angeles exhibit at Helms Bakery District and will continue at Skirball Cultural Center and LAX airport. A national initiative in partnership with other museums and cultural institutions will continue in the years to follow.
August 4th through September 24th
Viewing Hours on Saturdays from 12:00 to 4:00 PM
ABOUT WELCOME BLANKET
Woven into the fabric of our country is the fundamental idea that our diversity and individual freedoms, together, allow for our personal stories that collectively make the United States a great nation. The diverse migration stories are human stories; yet the abstraction of immigration, from sweeping government policies to the use of language, particularly by the media, perpetuates “otherness,” removing us from these human stories, ones that we all have. Welcome Blanket is a platform for engagement that transforms this abstraction into a tangible, crowd-sourced, artistic action. Participants use their heads, hearts, hands, and histories to craft the country they wish to see.
Welcome Blanket was initially a response to the proposed 2000-mile border wall between Mexico and the United States. The project reimagined the 2000-mile length, one of exclusion, as 2000 miles of yarn to make individual welcome blankets for refugees coming to the United States. Handcraft makers who knit, sew, quilt, crochet, weave, felt, etc., use any textile to make 40 inch x 40 inch blankets that are easy to care for and hard to give away. They included stories important to their families about immigration, migration, or relocation, creating symbolic and practical gifts of welcome for new refugees coming to the United States. These gifts are collected, cataloged, and displayed at art and cultural institutions. During these exhibits, the message of welcome is amplified through hosting craft circles, performances, discussions, forums, and legal assistance for immigrants. Post-show, our 30+ partner refugee resettlement groups present these tangible gifts of welcome to our newest neighbors. Over 6500 have been made and distributed.
After reaching our initial goal of 2000 miles of yarn, resulting in 3400 blankets, the impact was clear. New immigrants felt the welcome; they felt seen as they were gifted these heartfelt, handmade blankets–a symbol of home, itself. And the makers reflected the diversity of this country: the youngest was 4 and the oldest 104; there were evangelical Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists; and there were makers from a wide range of political leanings. Many participants had diverse migration stories, from being descendants of slaves to displaced Native Americans, from recent refugees to descendants of the Mayflower.
Welcome Blanket’s impact reflected a sense of inclusion and we set a new goal–to bring people together to develop a new American tradition of welcome. We aim to create an enduring project and build a community of connection, a network that creates thresholds of welcome that is a public visual pronouncement and a private and tactile experience. We are building a tapestry of American migration history, connecting the stories of past migrations with people coming to the United States right now, and creating a space to discuss the complex issues around immigration with humanity.
Information about additional Welcome Blanket events will be posted shortly.
Museum of Design Atlanta (Atlanta, GA)
Smart Museum of Art (Chicago, IL)
Fuller Craft Museum (Boston, MA)
Build Peace Conference (San Diego and Tijuana)
Welcome Blanket Brookline
San Francisco International Airport (San Francisco, CA)
Heritage Winooski Mill Museum (Winooski, VT)
Revere History Museum (Revere, MA)
Jayna Zweiman is an architecturally-trained multidisciplinary artist and designer. Her independent practice combines architecture, art, craft, and new media to focus on experiences that overlap physical, virtual, and conceptual spaces.
Perhaps best known as the co-creator and co-founder of Pussyhat Project, an international network and movement of women’s rights supporters, Zweiman has become a leading advocate of utilizing design innovation to enact social change. Pussyhat Project became a worldwide phenomenon at the 2017 Women’s Marches with one of the largest crowd-sourced art advocacy projects ever. She is also the creator and founder of Welcome Blanket, a reconceptualization of the 2000-mile length of the proposed border wall as 2000-mile length of yarn to make individual welcome blankets for new immigrants coming to the United States.
Zweiman’s work has been exhibited and published internationally. Her work has been nominated for the Beazley Design of the Year by the Design Museum in London, has been acquired by the Victoria & Albert Museum, and has been awarded the first ever Brand of the Year by the School of Visual Arts. Zweiman was awarded in 2017 as one of “The 25 People Who Defined Visual Culture” by Artsy.
Jayna earned her AB from Brown University with concentrations in visual arts and economics and her Master in Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She lives and works in Los Angeles.
Special thanks to Welcome Blanket sponsors: