HOME is Home

I’ve written about my relationship with the tenants of Moore Place many times over the last year, but it can’t hurt to tell the story again one last time.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceLast fall, I traveled from Anchorage, Alaska to Charlotte, North Carolina for a two month long artist residency through a partnership between the Rasmusson Foundation and the McColl Center for Art + Innovation.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceThe McColl Center’s operating philosophy encourages the artists in residence to engage with the community of Charlotte in a meaningful way.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceIt was suggested that I might be interested in making a community quilt with the tenants of Moore Place. Moore Place is a Housing Works project run by the Urban Ministry Center.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceAll of these organizations are advocates for compassionate approaches to ending homelessness in Charlotte.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceMoore Place is a permanent housing facility for 85 formerly chronically homeless individuals.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceNot only is Moore Place permanent housing, it is also wrap around services to help the residents get the education, job training, health and medical services they need.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceThe end result is success for everyone. Housing First programs like Moore Place have been studied and documented–they help individuals get off the streets and become healthy, happy, and productive while also saving the tax payers money.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceMoore Place is amazing, and I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to document the residents and their journey in a community quilt.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceEvery Tuesday afternoon for two months, I would load up a mini-van with sewing machines, supplies, ironing boards and irons.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceI would set up a mini-SEW SHOP where tenants could make pillow cases, tote bags, and other simple sewing projects for their apartments.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceWhile stitching, we learned about each other and began the conversation about what a quilt made by the residents of Moore Place might look like.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceI shared examples of other community quilts I have made.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceI believe taking the two months to build this relationship was essential to the success of the project.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceI needed to understand how Moore Place worked and what the residents were like.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceThey needed to know they could trust me and the work I wanted to do.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceIn all honesty, I wasn’t sure how it would all go down. I might spend two months making pillow cases, and we would never make quilt blocks.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceI might not get to be the conduit I wanted to be for this quilt. The residents of Moore Place could have decided they didn’t want me to tell their story in cloth. The residents surprised me with their generosity and willingness to share themselves.

IMG_5168I do believed they are the examples, the front line, of how individuals can go from homelessness to home.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceSupporting formerly homeless individuals by giving them the opportunity to have a home–I should say here, that the residents do PAY for their apartments–is a compassionate approach to homelessness and it WORKS.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceAnd the residents of Moore Place who made quilt blocks are all saying to the world–look at us. We were homeless, but we no longer are. We are grateful for the compassion you have showed us. This approach has allowed us to get healthy, to get sober, to get an education, to get jobs.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceI very much believe that the way we treat the members of our society who need help says clearly what kind of community, state, nation we are.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceMoore Place, its tenants, its staff, its community are really shiny examples of what we all could be.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceI have spent this past week back in Charlotte, North Carolina. The first 24 hours were spent doing finishing work on the quilt.

HOME by Maria Shell and the residents of Moore PlaceIt is a large quilt measuring 107 inches wide by 76 inches long. The facings and four hanging sleeves took more than 12 hours to hand stitch in place.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceOn Tuesday we went to Moore Place to hang the quilt. How many people does it take to hang a large quilt up high? Well, at least four, maybe more.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceIt’s BIG.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceOn Thursday, we had a celebration of the quilt.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceThe turn out was good. There were lots of community members and lots tenants. Katie Church, Tenant Services Coordinator at Moore Place, welcomed everyone who gathered for the celebration.

IMG_6445Lisa Hoffman, Associate Director of the McColl Center, explained how we all came together to support this project.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceAnd I got the good job of announcing all the artists who participated in the quilt. There were 32 quilt blocks made.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceAnd now, the quilt HOME is indeed home. This entire process has made me realize that there is true value for everyone involved if artists get to work with marginalized communities in meaningful ways.IMG_6502Now, how do I make that happen? AGAIN.

HOME by Maria Shell and the Residents of Moore PlaceThis ending is another beginning. I just think that it is.

If you would like to read the complete story about HOME the quilt, the residents of Moore Place, and my community quilt building history, you can by clicking on the following links.

McColl Countdown

HOME: A First Look at the Moore Place Quilt

Journey to Moore Place

HOME Is Home

Building a Community Quilt Part I

Ari’s Community Quilt

Creative Cross Pollinations

 

This entry was published on May 31, 2015 at 10:09 AM. It’s filed under News And Events, Quilt Stories and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

26 thoughts on “HOME is Home

  1. This quilt is glorious! But the fact that it was made by a community, and that it holds special meaning for all of them, makes it hold special meaning for all of us

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  2. What a great experience for all involved, and a lovely gift of yourself! The quilt is wonderful and will bring joy to many. Thanks for letting us know about this opportunity- it will spark others, I bet.

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    • Jeanne- Thank you! I hope you are right. I am giving at lecture at IQA this fall in Houston with the hopes of sharing this story with more people. I’ve also been thinking a lot about how to recreate this experience for other artists and other marginalized communities. I hope I can do it!

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  3. Jane on said:

    What a fabulous quilt! What JOY is expressed by it!

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  4. The quilt is beautiful. A wonderful reflection of the time spent together. Inspiring and exhilirating art.

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  5. jmhouston on said:

    Would be wonderful if we could spread this project around the country………it seems to work!!!! Thanks Maria, for what you did!!!

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    • I’m working on it! I’m giving a lecture this fall at IQA in Houston and hopefully that will spark more interest. I have ideas I just need time! Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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  6. Pam Butcher on said:

    A colossal achievement. Beautiful work!

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  7. Well done, Maria! I totally want to be you when I grow up. Now, as soon as you’re back in town, and I’m back in town…let’s go for that walk. Or go for a drink. Or walk and drink at the same time.
    XO
    Amy

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  8. You have done it again. And, I thank you with all my heart. The quilt is absolutely amazing. You have given the people something no one can take away – a beautiful, successful, personal-community experience.

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  9. Marla on said:

    I love this whole process of bringing people and their stories together through their blocks and a community quilt. Well done, to all who participated!

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  10. What a wonderful post – I had not understood the amazing depth of the story (I’m still new to your blog). What a marvelous outcome and experience! (and a very cool quilt, too)

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    • I know! It’s the quilt fun. One of the really interesting things about this project was I wasn’t sure how the tenants would want to express themselves. They all choose joy and gratitude as the primary emotions that they wanted to express. It is really a great thing to have been a part of.

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  11. Penny on said:

    Incredible story and quilt. This is a true testament to the transformative ability of art with heart. Changing the world, one community project at a time.

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  12. Fabulous, and the story that goes with it is awesome.

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  13. Anneliese Horst Foerster on said:

    Hello Maria,
    I met you briefly at the McColl Center and was very impressed with your work. I volunteer for the Latin American Women’s Association (www.lawanc.org), who works with Latino students from Elementary to High School and awards scholarships to attend college. For many years it has been our dream to include the parents of these students. We received a grant to start Social gatherings with the parents and our members. In order to encourage the dialogue we are doing arts and crafts, and we started by learning about quilting. Your images and your work inspire me to continue our work to make our Latino newcomers feel included in our Charlotte community. Thanks!

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