William Blake recognized artmaking as a powerful tool to address the pressing social issues of his time. In this spirit, the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University invited guests to experience the exhibition “William Blake and the Age of Aquarius” and join Melissa Blount, Evanston-based artist and activist and creator of the Black Lives Matter Witness Quilt, to produce a new collaborative work of art. Blount took her original inspiration for the quilt from artist Maire Watt, who lead a 2017 community sewing event at the Block Museum in conjunction with the exhibition “If You Remember, I’ll Remember.”
Over 200 guests from campus and community joined together on January 31, 2018 to sew together and to remember the lives of women and girls who lost their lives to gun violence in Chicago in 2017. Following a reception at the Block Museum of Art, Blount spoke about her art at the visitors center, where community members engaged in discussion and stitched patches themselves, which when completed, will eventually be stitched together to create a new quilt. Many participants embroidered the words “Say Her Name” to commemorate the lives of women lost to violence.
“The quilt is beautiful in itself, but it’s the idea that over a hundred people came together to work on it and sit together and have conversations about it. “Art as an impetus to action,” said Melissa Blount of the project
The Witness Quilt event was presented by the Block Museum of Art in partnership with the Northwestern Women’s Center, Northwestern Social Justice Education, and One Book One Northwestern. Support provided by Northwestern’s 50th Commemoration of the Bursar’s Office Takeover Committee. Presented in affiliation with Northwestern University’s 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration events and with the help of Love and Protect (loveandprotect.org).