Marie Watt’s “Dwelling” blankets continue their journey
Last spring, you may remember 1000 blankets that were impressively stacked together to create the artwork entitled “Dwelling.” This installation was part of the “Marie Watt: Lodge” exhibition here at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art.
Gathering 1000 blankets for an installation was a challenge, and it was one that Watt was ready to embrace with creativity, determination and the help of several communities.
As the exhibition travelled to its various locations, Watt invited members of each community to contribute blankets and stories. These blankets bore tags that told about the individual blanket and its significance in someone’s life. The stories were diverse in range: from a family warmly welcoming a new baby into the world, to one man who had held onto the blanket that the Nazis gave him as they were hurriedly marched away from a concentration camp at the end of World War II. These touching and remarkable stories showed how important, comforting and symbolic a simple object like a blanket can be in our lives.
In addition to these blankets, the Camin Family Foundation donated funds to purchase 300 new blankets for Watts project. In various communities, including Salem, Watt invited people to participate in sewing circles, where participants added satin and felt bindings to the edges.
Although the exhibition is gone, we are happy to report on one more chapter of the story. Watt had a vision for the blankets beyond the exhibition. The 300 donated blankets, with the sewing circle bindings, have now been donated to Helping Hands Resources, a Salem based nonprofit organization that reaches out to low-income individuals and families. On the morning of Nov. 17 people began to line up early for annual Blanket Day at Helping Hands Resources. One hundred and fifty blankets, went home with people that day while the remaining blankets continue to find their way to those in need.
And so now the story of the blankets continues: they came together from individuals and a community, they formed a collective story, and now they are passed on to new owners to continue their journey. We will never know how many new memories and experiences these blankets will form in people's lives.
To learn more about the "Marie Watt: Lodge" exhibition visit:
Marie Watt, "Dwelling," 2006, reclaimed and new wool blankets, satin binding, manila tags, safety pins, 96 x 66 x 84 in.