Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Hidden Stories/Human Lives: Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 17th Biennial Symposium, October 15-17, 2020. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/

doi: 10.32873/unl.dc.tsasp.0118


Copyright © 2020 Alesia Maltz


Welcome Blanket was created as a craftivism response to Trump’s call for a border wall. “Imagine if the massive distance of this wall was re-conceptualized and re-contextualized not to divide, but to include. Instead of a wall, a concrete line, to keep people out, what if lines of yarn became 3,500,640 yards of blankets to welcome people in?” The 3,200-blanket goal was quickly achieved and shown in the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. Then, with enclosed notes from the makers welcoming newly arrived immigrants, the blankets were distributed to refugees and immigrants in several resettlement communities throughout the United States. Meanwhile, members of a community associated with a nascent Makerspace in Norfolk, Connecticut, began making small (15”x 20”) “hugs” blankets for children who had been released from ICE detention centers to shelters. Welcome Blanket facilitated a process through their call to action to have these blankets, handmade dolls, and toiletries, distributed. We also sent a bale of blankets to the Heartland Alliance for a group of unaccompanied immigrant children coming into Chicago. We conducted a series of conversations with makers, ages nine to ninety, who were first-generation immigrants, children of immigrants, indentured servants, as well as people who did not know very much about their family’s immigrant experiences. These dialogues reveal much about the phenomenology of craft, the values that emerge in the context of community around craftivism, networks, and the spirit of co-creation. Drawing on hidden histories in what appears to be a homogenous community, makers found that through the action and reflection of the Welcome Blanket process, the community was able to weave together local concerns with global injustices. As Bruno Latour (2005) states: “Strength does not come from concentrations, purity and unity, but from dissemination, heterogeneity, and the careful plaiting of weak ties.”