City of Chicago commission for Englewood Senior
The conceptual point of departure for the
two forms of this project is a quilt.
Quilt as comforter. Quilts are made
for home and family. They signify home and family. They are welcoming.
They offer comfort, warmth, and safety. These are all aspects of
the Senior Center as part of the city’s “quality of
life” initiative and also qualities associated with a community
center as place.
Quilt as a community. A quilt is a new form created
by diverse materials from various sources that come together with
the sole purpose of creating a cohesive and useful group. A quilt
than is a type of community as is the group of seniors and staff
that meet at the Senior Center every day. Not only is a quilt a
community but also the act of creating it is communal. Quilting
by tradition brought people together in recreation as respite from
work. Quilting embodies a long and lasting tradition and thereby
refers to time. I like the association of tradition and time in
reference to seniors.
Englewood. One can easily say that
the city of Chicago itself is a patchwork quilt as a city of neighborhoods
and ethnic communities. On a more intimate scale, the history of
Englewood is like a patchwork quilt in the immigrant groups it has
sheltered over time. Swedes, Germans, Irish, Scots, Poles, African
Americans and others all share in the history of Englewood and all
have a quilting tradition as well. Diverse cultures coming together
to build a neighborhood.
Englewood has seen more than its share of racial and
religious tensions and crime in its relatively short life. Another
reason why I favor the concept of a comforter.
Because today and in the recent past the people living
in Englewood are mostly African American, I looked at quilts made
by African American women for inspiration of form and color. A book
called The Quilts of Gee’s Bend was my primary source. Gee’s
Bend is a region in Alabama from which come generations of women
who have kept alive a rich and creative tradition of quilt making.
Their works are: improvisational; asymmetrical; utilize simple geometry;
and create unique and distinctive variations of traditional patterns.
One such variation, blocks and strips, is used often. This is my
formal starting point. A blocks and strip variation utilizing colors
that appeared frequently in these quirky and fabulous quilts.
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