Join us February 2, 5–7pm, for the opening reception of the 45,000 Quilt Project in conjunction with downtown Waterville’s First Friday event.
A Spanish translator will be available during the opening reception.
5–7pm Caged Dreams Film Screening—Caged Dreams details the stories of Johannes Favi, Beatriz Batres, and Felipe Diosdado, who were previously detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. The goal of the film is to paint a vivid picture of the emotional experience of immigration detention and the deep impacts on a person’s mental health and their loved ones. The 12-minute documentary short will screen on a loop. Free.
5:15–6pm Read Aloud for Children—Liz Davis, Children’s Librarian at Waterville Public Library, reads Areli Is a Dreamer by Areli Morales, a DACA recipient, and Hear My Voice compiled by Warren Benford for Project Amplify. Both books are beautifully written and illustrated and tell stories of immigration and detention from a child’s perspective.
6–7pm Community Conversations—Community members are invited to share their personal experiences with immigration and detention in a supportive, low-key atmosphere.
Other speakers, including Mary Dunn and Michelle Gaeghan, will talk about their experiences working with people and their own experiences at the southern U.S. border.
Book Sale—Don’t Look Away, compiled by Glen Ring and Melinda MacInnis, is an exhibition book that displays the beautiful art created and reflections by those who contributed to the quilt, as well as poetry by an asylum seeker and informational material about immigrant detention. Proceeds from book sales will be split among two Maine-based immigrant justice groups: Mano en Mano and Presente Maine. $25.
“Tell a Story with a Quilt”—A hands-on project where you can create a small quilt to tell your own story, located in the Creative Carts in the Ticonic lobby. Free.
Call to Action: Postcard Writing—Visitors to the exhibit will have an opportunity to write postcards to our representatives about immigration and detention reform. Postcards, postage, suggested language, and names and addresses of representatives are provided.
The 45,000 Quilt Project is a beautiful display that brings together the work of over 60 immigrant justice activists and artists. It is designed to represent the immigrant detention experience in the United States and encourage efforts toward more humane solutions. Artists, quilters, and amateurs were invited to submit one-yard square panels, each containing 1,000 marks to represent 1,000 detained immigrants. The 45 panels, along with information panels and smaller works of art, were then assembled. Together the project consists of six quilts measuring 9 feet by 54 feet. Some panels were quilted or sewn, some painted or stamped.
This project was designed and created to bring attention to the inhumanity of immigration detention. Throughout this country, there are tens of thousands of immigrants who are jailed for no crime other than seeking a better life for themselves and their families. At the time when the quilts were created in March 2021, there were 45,000 immigrants in detention across the United States. The numbers today are almost as high.
While the beautiful squares of the quilts reflect the care felt for those detained by an inhumane immigration system, the beauty should not mask its purpose to alert people to the cruelty encountered by asylum seekers and other immigrants and to facilitate conversations about a humane immigration policy.