Positive Energy Quilters
Contact: Kristin Miller
Since 2002 the Positive Energy Quilters have brought community members, academics, adult students, etc. together to address environmental, social and political concerns. Over one hundred people have worked collectively to create ten quilts that explore issues as varied as community responses to plans for a large scale gas-burning power plant, opposition to a local municipality referendum, ill ease regarding US plans for war in Iraq and the exploitation of women. Kristin Miller proposes “to teach workshops that enable other groups to produce quilts expressive of social issues and concerns”.
The work has taken place in venues as diverse as the Canadian Association for Studies in Adult Education conference, a traditional quilters fair in New Zealand, a BCUC hearing and a multi-racial family event. Quilting in public is undertaken to “attract bystanders [and] the media, giving an opportunity to educate the public about the issues”. Public quilting has been done in coffee shops, at meetings, public rallies and formal hearings. Written materials, and public presentation displays, have been developed both on the subject of community quilting and with regards to the issues addressed.
The impact of the Positive Energy Quilters work is attributed to the fact that it is “a hands-on, issue-based group art activity [that] has great potential to draw diverse elements of a community together. It gives a group something to do as they talk and discuss and make plans. The finished quilt gives them a concrete object that can be displayed, admired ... and used for publicity or fundraising. A community-made quilt becomes a very strong symbol of grass-roots determination to tackle a problem, in part because of the messages depicted on the quilt, and in part because so many people have given so much time and effort to creating this very meaningful work of art”.