Artist, designer, and Pussyhat Project co-founder Jayna Zweiman’s work explores how political activism can be “positive, creative, and collective.” Her new participatory project Welcome Blanket confronts the issues of immigration and President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall through a tapestry of handmade blankets.
Welcome Blanket is a crowd-sourced artistic action that calls for over 3,000 blankets to be knit from 3,500,640 yards of yarn, a length equal to the proposed border wall dividing the United States and Mexico.
Welcome Blanket invites participants to knit the blankets for new immigrants as well as for refugees seeking resettlement—following a pattern by Kat Coyle, designer of the Pussyhat—and send them with personal notes of welcome and stories of immigration to the Smart Museum of Art. The project will open on July 18, in an empty gallery in the Museum which will be quickly activated as a receiving station to sort and store the blankets. Blankets will accumulate in the space over the run of the project, transforming it from a visually sparse site of potential action into a vibrant installation of handmade blankets. Throughout Welcome Blanket, visitors will be invited to spend time knitting in the gallery or joining a series of public programs that will take place over the fall, creating spaces for conversations around issues of human rights, immigration, and the legacy of artistic activism.
In December, the blankets will be distributed in coordination with immigration organizations and refugee resettlement agencies and other community partners.