Disarming: Memorial Quilts for Mass Shooting Victims | April 20 – June 10, 2019, Opening Reception April 27, 4-6pm
Arlington, MA – The Arlington Center for the Arts is pleased to be presenting Disarming: Memorial Quilts for Mass Shooting Victims, a quilt exhibition on view April 20 to June 10, 2019. Throughout the history of quilting, artists have been called upon in the wake of tragedy, disaster, or suffering to create quilts to send to the families of those affected. When a call for quilts to comfort the families of victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida came to quilt artist Julie Brown Neu in 2016, the thought, “No, you should make quilts for the victims themselves,” came to her instead. It was then that Julie began the Victims Quilt Project, which aims to memorialize victims of mass gun violence and bear witness to the shootings that have impacted and punctuated our society for almost 30 years. These beautifully crafted and thoughtfully constructed quilts carry an emotional and physical weight that asks visitors to remember those lost by mass shootings and consider the impact gun violence has on our society.
When speaking about the inspiration for this project, Neu says– “When the muse first gave me this project nearly three years ago, I didn’t understand why. When I realized that the 20th Anniversary of the Columbine shooting is this April 20, 2019, the purpose became clear.” Starting with the shooting at Columbine High School, Julie made a quilt block with the name of each person who died in a mass shooting in which more than 10 people were massacred at once. To date, she has made 310 blocks, each representing an individual victim of mass gun violence, in 14 quilts for the shootings in Columbine High School, CO, Virginia Tech, VA, Binghamton, NY, Fort Hood, TX, Aurora, CO, Sandy Hook Elementary, CT, Washington, DC, San Bernardino, CA, Orlando, FL, Las Vegas, NV, Sutherland Springs, TX, Parkland,
FL, Pittsburgh, PA, and Thousand Oaks, CA. This exhibit includes all 14 memorial quilts, plus “Bullet Holes,” in which 796 holes represent victims of mass shooting events large and small from 1990 to 2018, and “In Our Sights,” which includes pages from The New York Times covering the shooting in Las Vegas in 2017. The visual volume that these quilts carry is representative of the degree to which mass gun violence has impacted our country in the last thirty years and the emotional toll these tragedies take on our society.
As an Arlington resident, Neu felt it was important for the inaugural display of this work to be presented by an institution in her town. “I feel so fortunate to have an organization in Arlington like the ACA to support me as an artist and to help me make this exhibit possible. Without them, I’d have nothing more
than a stack of quilts tucked away in my closet.”
“I am deeply moved by Julie’s passion and commitment to remembering those who lost their lives in mass shootings,” says ACA Executive Director, Linda Shoemaker. “Julie’s juxtaposition of the traditional, gentle, often nostalgic-feeling medium of quilting with the hard reality of the mounting toll of gun violence in our country is powerful. Her insistence that we remember the victims of mass shootings through the ‘soft’ form of these quilts is ‘Disarming,’ indeed, as her exhibit title suggests.” “The power of seeing so many quilt blocks with so many names, all with the same day of death,” says Shoemaker, “leaves an indelible impression. This is one of the gifts artists can give us – a new way of seeing and engaging with the challenging issues of our time, and I’m proud that Julie chose the Arlington Center for the Arts for her first public showing of these powerful quilts.”
Disarming is on view and open to the public April 20 to June 10, 2019, Monday through Friday from 10:00am to 6:00pm and during evening public events. The public is invited to join the ACA and Julie Brown Neu for an opening reception on Saturday, April 27, 4:00-6:00pm. Refreshments will be provided.
For more information about this exhibition and opening reception event please visit acarts.org.
Julie Brown Neu: Julie Brown Neu began quilting more than 20 years ago as a way to fill her free time after graduating from college. As the years passed, quilting became a vital form of artistic expression for her. Julie is now a working artist from Arlington, MA, who uses the soft form of cloth and the nostalgic medium of quilts to explore the hard topics of sexism, xenophobia, and mass shooting violence.
About Arlington Center for the Arts
The Arlington Center for the Arts is a community arts center devoted to the mission of “transforming lives and building community through the arts.” For the last 30 years, ACA has opened its doors to a community of artists, learners, and supporters of the arts and has committed to engagement, access, and inclusion of all art forms. In 2018, thanks to the support of many generous individuals in the community, the ACA finished renovations and moved into their new facility at 20 Academy Street, Arlington, Massachusetts 02476. To learn more, visit our website at www.acarts.org.