As a white American raised, in the black inner city neighborhoods of the Midwest, by parents active in the Civil Rights Movement, I have been acutely aware of the racial divisions in our nation, my whole life. Hatred, bigotry and racial tension again are at the forefront of the news, though to be honest, there has never been a time when prejudice has not been active in our society. Having been raised as a minority (living as a white child in predominantly black communities), while being identified and experiencing the privileges of actually being in the majority, I had the rare, and often painful gift, of not being able to hide in the illusion of belonging. I have always been aware of my otherness, whether I was with folks of my same skin color or another. My parents taught us early on when we experienced rejection to draw a circle larger than the hate, with love, to draw them in. I responded with my art and creativity, finding other individuals who could see beyond the stereotypes to embrace each other as humans and celebrate our diverse experiences. We are in this together as a nation whether we like it or not. So finding ways to connect seems crucial, not just to blame, silence and reject but also celebrate, educate and create together.
The Bridges Color Vest, was my attempt to make visual my experiences. Using Black & White fibers, I knit them in a plating stitch, a technique that always puts one thread in front of the other. This creates a 3D effect with either the white or black being prominent and the other color pushed into the background, much like the racist dehumanization of the other. The bottom of the vest is black in front and white in back and the top of the vest is white in front and black in back. But you see, the fabric is incomplete without the other fiber, we are interdependent. I used holes created with dropped stitches to show that the system cannot be maintained. And on the back the black and white sections are bridged by free flowing color, expressing the creativity needed to bridge the divisions.
May we find those bridges now across the chasm of hate and aggression. I offer this design as hope that the bridges can be built.