The 25 Million Stitches project was conceived to put a light on the plight of refugees worldwide- with the goal of having 1 stitch for every refugee… all 25 million. The entire project has over 2000 completed panels with over 2100 stitchers contributing. One of my mentors, Penny Peters created a stunning piece. Penny’s piece inspired me to contact the project and contribute to it as well.
My first panel was started by looking a images of refugees in life boats and planning out the design. The linen for the panels was sent to me from the project, so all the panels could be the same size. I knew I wanted to address the issues of the danger faced by refugees fleeing over water, partially due to my dentist having had this experience as a child leaving Vietnam. Since I wanted to have the panel speak to a global experience, I made the scene generic, as though it could be anywhere. I also specifically left out the figures, other than the life vests, to represent both those escaping and those who were lost in the attempt to flee for a better life.
I chose a font I liked for the panel and designed this second piece around the wording “Rivers of Tears; Oceans of Misery; Seas of Sorrow”. I used a simple running stitch for the wave pattern, then did a satin stitch over the backstitched outline of the letters . I then added detached chain stitches to look like tears. The project asked for participants to mark their name and home city/state or country as the final part for each panel, which I chose to do in stitching.
If you’re interested in seeing more about the project, you can watch a wonderful presentation put on by the Surface Design Association with the SDA President Astrid Bennett and 25 Million Stitches project founder, Jennifer Kim Sohn discussing the project on YouTube. Both Penny’s panel and my lifeboat panel are shown within the video!
You can also see an artist’s rendition of what the exhibition was expected to look like when it opened at the Verge Center for the Arts in Sacramento here.
The show ran at the Verge Center from June 12 – August 22, 2021 and hopes to travel to other venues in the future. Here is a video of the exhibit: