13 December 2011
Women and men throughout the ages have been upcycling well before the word had any relevance, trend status or meaning. They have been upcycling by way of quilts, artfully seemed yardages of cloth created from remnants of other materials. This item had functionality, purpose, and even in some cases, served as a coded map towards freedom.
It's 1850 in the eastern coast of the United States of A, and the Fugitive Slave Law has just been instituted. Imagine squares, triangles, knots, and blanket stitches molded into code. Further imagine quilts leaning outside of window sills, over fences, and under trees as further signs leading enslaved Africans towards the next step along their journey out of enslavement towards free personhood. Imagine a cloth could have so much power as to determine someone's livelihood, citizenship and ability to eat, sleep, dress, and breath as a "free" human being.
I began reciclaGEM simply from finding scraps of old clothes and fabric around my space, freeing my mind from the constraints of conventional garment construction and trusting the fabric to tell me what it wants to do. Over the weekend, I found an old t-shirt and some old quilting cloth, and just began creating...creating in honor of the quilters who literally created freedom with their scraps and in honor of those still seeking freedom.
Free your mind and the rest will follow.
This is a piece in progress, but it's definitely a start.
Even the days when you don't feel like creating, just do something with whatever you have in your midst- as if your life depended on it in honor of those who had to.