Community Art Installation for the awareness of and support for refugees across the globe
“The world is in flight. 25 million people across the globe have been forced to flee their homelands as a consequence of genocide, war, poverty, natural disasters, targeted violence, and other grave threats. 25 Million Stitches engages as many people as possible to raise awareness of the global refugee crisis. To amass 25 million stitches, the project aims to visually represent the sheer volume of this astronomical figure of refugees.”
Jennifer Kim Sohn, founder of 25 Million Stitches
This huge community art installation will come together into a single, striking fiber arts display. Since the launch of the project in May of 2019, the response has grown from participants mainly from California to all 50 states and across six continents.
Last fall a friend asked “who’s in?” when the 25 Million Stitches project came across her radar on social media. Immediately I jumped on the opportunity and rounded up fellow stitchers.
Multimedia artist Jennifer Kim Sohn has created an art installation that will travel the world - once it opens up again. She invited artists to contribute by embroidering on a panel of cream-colored muslin.
Most of the panels have been returned, and are being assembled into a grand installation of everyone’s personal expression of solidarity and support for the refugees. Stitched together with other lovingly contributed panels, each contribution will be a part of a tapestry of profound community support.
There were 25 million people seeking refuge in the world when Sohn began this project last year. Now there are 26 million. Many of us are aware of genocide and war, but may not think about targeted violence or natural disasters as a reason to flee.
So, how does making 25 million stitches help refugees?
“We believe that this project is a way for us to engage with this global crisis instead of ignoring it,” according to 25millionstitches.com. “And even though no single stitch can fully represent an individual, the act of stitching and the resulting work will help bring attention to the scale of the crisis. Two objectives of the project are: To engage as many people as possible to raise awareness of the global refugee crisis. To amass 25 million stitches to visually represent the sheer volume of this astronomical figure of refugees.”
"I'm not a stitcher, but this project feels like the least I could do,” Sara Severson said. “Nothing but chance differentiates us from millions of refugees.” Sara’s finished panel says, “Immigration is the American way.”
When we received our blank canvases and started brainstorming our plans we gathered together and researched imagery around the word “welcome,” as well as why people flee their country (in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.)
We saw quotes about bravery, family, sacrifice, survival, welcoming, love and acceptance. And we saw images of pathways, different colored hands and of course, the Statue of Liberty.
“When I was little,” Kmbris Bond said, “I heard the story of extravagant welcome that the United States extended to the world for those who needed a home. While looking down from the crown of the Statue of Liberty, I saw our amazing land and was mesmerized by this gift France had given to us. To me,” Kmbris added, “the statue says ‘Welcome, come and bring yourselves and your hopes and dreams and find home.’”
For me, it was about color and words. I started mine - which reads “Seeking safety is not a crime” - and decided to make it exclusively with French knots. Everyone looked at me like it was a terrible idea because it is very time consuming. I don't regret it though. I live a comfortable life and if the worst thing that happens to me is having to make a ton of French knots, I'm pretty happy. I intentionally made it a challenge so I could embrace what people are going through - through art - even though it doesn't compare at all.
The opening installation will be at the Verge Center for the Arts in Sacramento June to August 2021. Sohn is seeking additional galleries that may be able to display the 1,600 square installation.
Visit 25millionstitches.com for more information.