All membranes are porous
Famished Road Ecology (for 25 Million Refugees)

Recalling recent collective stitch-in's

When, in about 2013, Lori Weidenhammer and I came up with the idea of facilitating collective sewing and dialoguing events, we were trying to revive feminismS. To emphasize how we were demanding that feminism be accountable and responsive not just to women but to the environment, and to those affected by systemic racism and colonization and gender discrimination, we adopted a capital "S" from the text, “FeminismS Without End…”, by Randy Lee Cutler and Magnolia Paulker, FUSE (Summer 2012). Cutler and Paulker described capital S feminismS this way:

"As the crisis of late industrial capitalism unfolds and the tide of popular protest is on the rise around the world, the radical potential of feminist, gender, and queer politics must be actively engaged as the ongoing legacy of feminismS. Acknowledging the specificities of individual embodiments enables us to begin to trace and intervene in our own complicity within the multitude of repressions, both historically and at present.”

With Lori's enormous know-how and history as a bee and garden advocate, Slofemists have always included environmental accountability in our version of Slow-feminismS.

I'm recalling all of this as Lori and I are working together again. Our new project with Dunlop Art Gallery will challenge participants to make and commit to intentions to mend what is broken or wounded in their lives and worlds. This will be part of a series of events in A Stitch and Time, an event series hosted by the Dunlop Art Gallery in Saskatchewan.

With the embroidery and sewing demands of the Slofa and its beautiful cushions completed, Slofemists seem free to take up others actions and to consider other capital S specifics. Here are a couple of other events that we have been lucky enough to encounter and work on during the past 12 months.

On August 19 2019 I participated in a some-what impromptu "Stitch-In" hosted by Dawn Livera and Yoo-mi Lee inside of a public artwork, Paradise Has Many Gates by Saudi artist Ajlan Gharem. Paradise takes the form of a small mosque through chain-link fencing which Gharem has used as material for the walls, ceilings, towers, and even a few sparse decorative details. According to the description from this work's hosting organization, Vancouver Biennale, Paradise is expected to make passers-by and users of the space think about the intensification of fences and borders that are limiting people's mobility and are intensifying intolerance of asylum seekers and immigrants. With those themes, it was a perfect setting for Livera and Lee to get us to put stitches onto fabric panels which will be part of the project "25 Million Stitches" by the artist Jennifer Kim Sohn. Sohn expects that it will take 2000 panels (15x30") filled with hand stitching to demonstrate the volume of 25 million--the number of individuals that UNHCR estimates are currently refugees on the globe. It is important to note that the term "refugee" is only one category in the larger number of nearly 71 million "forcibly displaced" people. I have trouble picturing 2000 stitched fabric panels, which Lee and Livera thought would fill a gymnasium, but I can picture a single stitch which is one or two millimeters, depending on the skill or style of the sewer. Lori and I hope to integrate "25 Million Stitches" into our events at the Dunlop Art Gallery. Stay Tuned!

December 6 2018 Day of Action

Back on December 6 2018, and then a few more times since, Slofemists joined a small but determined Status of Women Committee to host sewing and rubber-stamping events in the library of Emily Carr University to mark the annual National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Along with Ana Diab (Librarian) and Elizabeth Mackenzie (artist and Faculty Member) we set up space for people to collectively create a banner marking the people whose lives have been lost as a result of gender-based violence. Many people were involved in the research and design of this project. The resulting banner is beautiful, and--most tragically--unfinished. It is hanging in tribute to those named, at the foot of the stairs in the Ron Burnett Library + Learning Commons at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, Canada.

Lois Klassen