The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt by Faith Ringgold

by Daniel Haim

The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt, designed by the artist Faith Ringgold and created in collaboration with New York City students ages 8 to 19, will be exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from August 30, 2011 through January 22, 2012, in the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education. The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt poignantly conveys the importance of respect, understanding, and communication across cultures and religions to achieve the goal of peace. Comprised of three 72-by-50 inch panels, each with 12 squares on the theme of peace, the quilt will be displayed alongside several of the students’ original works of art that inspired its content, as well as related works made this summer by the Museum’s high school interns.

On Sunday, September 11, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of 9/11 special programming will be offered at the Museum, including a talk by Faith Ringgold, readings by New York University students related to The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt, and an afternoon concert at The Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing.

The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt was organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in collaboration with the InterRelations Collaborative, Inc.

Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the nonprofit organization InterRelations Collaborative, which is dedicated to fostering cross-cultural understanding through art among diverse student populations, brought together young people from across New York City to document their experiences. A selection of the students’ drawings and writings were published in the book What Will YOU Do For Peace? Impact of 9/11 on New York City Youth. In 2006, the InterRelations Collaborative commissioned Faith Ringgold to design The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt based on the book. Ringgold and her assistant Grace Matthews worked with the young artists to produce a story quilt using compositions from the Peace book. The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt combines words and images to convey messages of healing and unity, and the collective labor of making the quilt is an expression of community building.

Artist Faith Ringgold is well known for her story quilts: art that combines painting, quilted fabric, and storytelling. Ringgold began to use quilt making in 1983 as a means of developing narratives that explore issues of race, feminism, and community. She learned quilting from her grandmother, who had learned from her own mother, a former slave. Ringgold’s work has been exhibited in major museums around the world and can be found in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and The Museum of Modern Art, among others. In addition to writing and illustrating 11 children’s books, she has been the recipient of more than 75 awards, fellowships, citations, and honors, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Fellowship for painting, two National Endowment for the Arts Awards, and 17 honorary doctorates.

The presentation of The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt is organized by Rebecca McGinnis, Museum Educator in Access and Community Programs at the Metropolitan Museum.