Tag Archives: community

Mending Communities: Fabric Artist Clara Wainwright


“Mending Baghdad” by Clara Wainwright. Photo copyright Richard Howard.

“Mending Baghdad” by Clara Wainwright. Photo copyright Richard Howard.

Please enjoy listening to our interview.

When communities have stories to be told or wounds to be healed—and all of them do—art offers a powerful answer, a way to preserve history, a means for expressing cultural priorities, or even a sort of talisman to help people through difficult times. One might look at the AIDS Quilt as an embodiment of all three.

Fabric artist Clara Wainwright has used her art in other charitable ways, but this idea of using it to build, unite, and heal communities is a hallmark of her body of work. Witness “Mending Baghdad” (above), which Wainwright created in response to a photo of a war-battered Baghdad she saw on the cover of a newspaper during the first Gulf War. She left the quilt unfinished, gluing down pieces instead of sewing them, so that she could then use the work as a centerpiece of discussion or a catalyst for emotional release as other people finished the quilt. At various workshops around the U.S. and the U.K., participants “mended” the city of Baghdad, a potent metaphor for their sympathy and sorrow for the innocent lives lost or disrupted in the war, and a starting point for exploring their understanding of the war and its consequences.

A prominent New England textile artist, Wainwright has pieces in the permanent collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Art and others. And not long ago, Art Corps named her as one of their two 2012 Creative Activists. We hope you enjoy hearing her talk about her art and how it fits like a puzzle piece into the world around her.

“Surrounded By Water” by Clara Wainwright. Photo copyright Richard Howard.

“Surrounded By Water” by Clara Wainwright. Photo copyright Richard Howard.

Published November 7, 2012

Creativity is a Human Right: Community Art Center


“Creativity… is a human right,” says Eryn Johnson, Executive Director of the Community Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Neighborhood families first founded the center in 1932. To this day the center has remained loyal to its initial mission “to cultivate an engaged community of youth whose artistic voices transform their lives, their neighborhoods and their worlds”.

Yet the pursuit of self-expression is often hindered by want of other needs. Johnson admits that maintaining the arts program in a community where many residents do not have their basic needs met is a huge challenge. In addition to art classes the center provides meals, transportation and counseling free of charge. “We have to make sure they are getting what they need, in order for them to be able to participate as fully as they really are able to.”

Watch the interview with Eryn Johnson to hear for yourself how arts education transforms far more than the life of just one child.

Listen to the podcast below:

Published July 11, 2013