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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sacred Threads: Interconnections

If you have read my post about Michael Jackson's death, then you are probably aware of my concern (and that really doesn't describe it) over the many problems which are happening all over the world, but particularly the devastation in Africa, whether the atrocities in Darfur (and other areas) or the Aids epidemic.

It is little wonder then, that tonight I'm going to take a look at three quilts which have a message. Sometimes I think it is easier to make a beautiful quilt without transmitting a message, but quilts, like other art forms, are vehicles for transmitting thoughts.

At left is Deborah Baillieul's quilt entitled "Interconnections."

Deborah was kind enough to share her own image with me when I made a hash of my original.

I was drawn to this quilt, probably primarily for the fact that it isn't square. Then, the subtle colors and textures, along with the wonderful blues really brought me closer. When I read Deb's artist statement I was overjoyed to see someone who had a similar viewpoint to mine. Deborah wrote the following for her artist statement:

"Unitarian Universalist Principle #7: We affirm and promote the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.In 2006, my spiritual journey brought me to Botswana, to le Kubu Island, a sacred Bushman site. Following a Zimbabwean wall, we arrived at nine monolithic rocks, holding offerings tied in red cloths. We camped under an ancient leather-skinned baobab and watched hornbills grab bugs midair. Blue-black sky pushed the flaming sun into the Magadigadi Salt Pans. Baobab bark, elephant hide, salt pan surface, eroded rock, and Bushman offerings intersect and connect us to all elements of the earth. "

I also think of Africa, and I wonder if the reason I can't help but want to dance or feel the pull deep in my being when I hear African Tribal music isn't if all of us still have a strand of Africa within, no matter how white bread I am.

Imagine my surprise then, when I read the label for Deborah's second quilt, entitled "Trade Roots."

"My spiritual journey takes me through Botswana and back in time to my ancient African ancestors. Many paths are/were taken: to hunt/eat, to trade goods for beads and cowrie shells, to exchange culture and ideas, and to explore our relationship to this earth. Just like my ancient ancestors, I meet with unexpected challenges, surprises and celebrations. Today, I honor the many ways of being in this world. I connect with the mystery of ancient places and peoples, my roots and my routes."

I also firmly believe that what happens on this earth to the least of us, happens to us all. Deborah's husband, Tom Baillieul, used this quilt entitled "When Things Fall Apart" to draw attention to the devastation from the progress of the AIDS virus in Botswana.

"Forty years after independence, the Republic of Botswana finds itself in a fight for its life. Fully one-third of the adult population is HIV positive. As my quilt shows, this dread disease is beginning to unravel the fabric of society. Yet, there is still hope. The government has stepped up to the challenge, establishing clinics and treatment centers throughout the country, and working to change the basic culture with the message “ABSTAIN, BE FAITHFUL, and CONDOMIZE.” The final chapters of this story remain to be written – can the country heal itself?"

You can see more of Deb and Tom's quilts at their website:

The scourge of Aids is also the topic for this quilt by Sharon Rowley of Seattle Washington. Sharon's quilt is entitled "Orphans of AIDS."

Here is her artist statement: This piece is one in a series inspired by the Native American principle of “The Seventh Generation” which calls on its chiefs to consider the impact of their decision-making on the seventh generation to come. The world’s response to the crisis of AIDS, which has orphaned more than 12 million children in Africa, must consider the long-term consequences of generations of children “growing up without parents, without teachers, without a future.”

I guess that this one really hit me again mostly because of the artist's statement. If our leaders would make more decisions based on what is good for the people and what the long term impact is, instead of what is politically expedient, I can't help but think that the world would be a far better place.

Other quilts from the show may be seen at and you can buy a CD which has all of the entries and their artist statements (except for the Breaking Barriers) on the web site.


Anonymous said...

Nice post, Michigoose! I appreciatively linked to it at "Unitarian Universalism" Facebook group, at...

Michigoose said...

Thanks. While I am actually a Congregationalist who attended and was active in an Episcopal Church in CT, and am now attending a Methodist church here in Ohio, I'm always impressed by the UU's committment to the world and their overall viewpoint. Interesting website yourself! Lisa