Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Triangle Fire Memorial Quilt is Coming Together

John Sloan on the fire

Every day I live with the blocks that have come in, I stare at these haunting images as I move them, shift them, rearrange them in the process of assembling the quilt. I have a file on them, each one bears a matching identifying tag---but the truth is, I know them all by heart.  As I spread them out on my living room rug, step back, squint, move back in, it's almost as though they tell me where they need to go. Blocks like these alternate with lists of the victims' names, lyrics of historic union songs, comments on labor history from sometimes unexpected sources.  The form of this quilt is very much dictated by its function: since its purpose is to recognize, honor, educate, and exhort, it is essential that all the blocks be easily readable; it follows that the quilt has a horizontal layout, which will leave all the blocks accessible (even to short people like me) and will also facilitate hanging and display. Design questions like To Sash or Not To Sash are answered by the blocks themselves. (The answer to the Question has turned out to be: sometimes yes, sometimes no.)  In the next month or so, the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition will be launching an international competition to select a design for the permanent memorial. There will be press coverage, and we hope that the quilt will be a powerful part of all that. I am so moved by the vision and craft that has gone into these blocks, and grateful for the effort of many artists. So stay tuned--I may even figure out how to blend text and image before this whole thing is over.

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