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Jayna Zweiman
Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, Illinois
Recommendation by Robin Dluzen

Jayna Zweiman, "Welcome Blanket," installation view on August 9, 2017 at the Smart Museum of Art, Chicago

Continuing through December 17, 2017

Jayna Zweiman, co-founder of the Pussyhat Project that was so prominent during the Women’s Marches immediately following the inauguration, blends craft and activism again with “Welcome Blanket.” Here, Zweiman has engaged contributors from around the world to make blankets for immigrants and refugees entering the U.S., in hopes of amassing enough total lengths of yarn to rival the 1,900-mile border wall proposed by our current President. Of the 3,000 blanket goal, the Smart Museum has received over 1,000 at the time of this writing, two months into the five month exhibition.

The donated blankets abound in the gallery, piled on plinths, folded and stacked on shelves, and hung on rods, floor to ceiling. Some of the blankets are expertly assembled quilts, bound to become new family heirlooms once distributed. Others seem lovingly woven by novice knitters, with buckled, curling corners and frayed ends. Simpler still are the most-deskilled sort, made by knotting the cut edges of yards of pre-printed, store-bought fleece. Individually, the blankets’ aesthetic beauty or quality of craftsmanship matters not. En masse, they’re beautiful, and symbolically, they carry a message that making a difference does not hinge upon whether you’re able to do something “right” or “well,” but whether you’ve done anything at all.

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