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 1000 marks to represent 1,000 detained immigrants. The 45 panels, along with information panels and smaller works of art, were then assembled. Together the quilt 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 humans 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.
Image: Julie Swift and Lee Ann Ferring, I Saw What I Could Never Unsee.