Embroidering for peace and memory

Photo by Alexandra Torres-Perez

As you walked through the Green last week, you may have noticed a display of messages hanging from the trees.

“Love is not abuse.”

“No le temo a la represión del estado. Le temo al silencio de mi pueblo.”

I do not fear the repression of the state. I fear the silence of my town.

“No human is illegal.”

“Fui victima de trafico de menores”

I was victim of child trafficking.

These are some of the hundreds of powerful messages showcased at the Embroidering for Peace and Memory. Constanza Lopez has been collecting these messages from students for the past five years. Each year she comes back for a week to show what students have to say and to encourage them to create their own embroidered message.

“We all have a voice,” said Lopez. “More importantly than that, we have a collective voice.”

She started this event after teaching a class that dealt with violence in film and literature. She noticed her students would feel as though there was nothing they could do to help. So, she created the event to help students feel less discouraged.

“People are really empowered by what they do with their hands, and what they do when they come together,” said Lopez.

Students start with a blank piece of cloth and a pencil to map out what they’re going to sew. Lopez encourages students to embroider about whatever they feel most passionate about or the topics that they’re concerned about.

Shelby Blanton just came back from a trip to Peru with Constanza Lopez. She decided to embroider something about bringing back the Quechuan language in Peru. She wanted to express to others the struggle of those who were oppressed and looked down for speaking the Quechuan language. She hopes her embroiderment encourages students to support other heritages while acknowledging their own heritage.

“This is a way for students to express their feelings about controversial topics,” said Blanton.  “I think it’s needed especially after this past election.”

Dr. Lopez hopes to eventually take this project beyond UNF and into the community. For now, she will continue to collect the student’s messages, and she will be back next year to get more. You can visit Lopez’s website to learn more.

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