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Can Quilts Inspire Changes in Attitudes Toward the Environment

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As a lover of beautiful handcrafted things,I  have always thought of quilts as wonderful pieced fabric creations in colorful designs that were used to decorate beds and cribs. Talented crafters pieced together scraps of fabrics in intricate designs and inserted a hypoallergenic batting between two layers of fabric to make a quilt soft enough to use comfortably.  Occasionally, one was fine enough to hang on the wall as a piece of art. I knew they could tell a story in fabric; but I could never imagine the power of quilting  until I viewed the show at Dante B. Fascell Visitor Center at Biscayne Park called  Piecing Together a Changing Planet.

Dozens of amazing works of fiber art hung together in uniformity to deliver a strong diverse messages about our fragile environment and #Global Warming. The show required every quilt illustrate this message and the only rule was that all the quilts be vertical and exactly the same sizes so that more could be hung in the small space. But that's where the similarity stopped because each work of fiber art tackled difficult environmental issues in totally different ways. The titles were provocative and  the short description that accompanied each work of art further explained the danger about climate changes that was being explored through skillful needlework, applique, collage and other fiber art techniques.

These certainly were not your "grandmothers' quilts " not were they utilitarian house decorations that most of us are accustomed to seeing. These fiber art quilts made a strong environmental statement.  Several showed the devastating effects of ravaged landscapes. The "Last Leaf" explored the results of deforestation by depicting what a tree would look like after being destroyed by fire. "Currents" showed through intricate appliqued fabric the ravages of pollution.  "Butterflies" used three dimensional appliques of gorgeous butterflies to mourn the coming extinction of the Monarch Butterfly. " Rising Tides" portrayed the danger of flooding which is a major problem in coastal communities and in particular at Biscayne Park which is only 6 feet above sea level. Only one quilt entitled " The Answer is Blowing in the Wind " proposed a rather optimistic solution to energy issues by depicting windmills appliqued on a barren background. 

Quilt Exhibitions have travelled throughout our country in the past to delivery a message and this show is continuing this important tradition.This amazing exhibit is scheduled to travel to 10 major national parks telling the story of environmental dangers and warning its viewers of a bleak future if changes aren't made. It will be viewed next at Ellis Island in New York where Hurricane Sandy clearly affected the Statue of Liberty and many other important places before it eventually winds up in Washington D.C. The quilters hope that the President  of the United States will view this provocative show and realize that everyone is waiting for him to make some hard decisions about saving our planet.