Program Description: Mending Day is the final event of Stitching Exchange, a community art project created by artist Melissa Sarris, in collaboration with the library and Hudson Family Literacy, which provides ESL classes for non-native speakers. The group in Stitching Exchange come from various countries including Bangladesh, India, and Yemen. The participants of Stitching Exchange will offer their sewing skills to attendees of Mending Day while having a conversation with the public to practice their English.
Date/Time: Saturday April 27, 1:30-3pm
Recommended Audience: This event is free and and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to bring an article of clothing for repair. All sewing materials needed for making garment repairs will be provided.
During weekly workshop sessions Stitching Exchange participants began by plotting their home countries on a map and overlaying a few details such as their names written in English and their native languages. They included what (or whom) they missed from home. In a later session, they used this information, embroidering a word that referenced what is important to them on a hand stitched pillow in English and their native language. A selection of these colorful pillows will be on display at the Hudson Area Library, leading up to the Mending Day event.
Each week the women developed their English language skills. All of the women attending the workshops had some hand sewing skills and this made learning English that much easier. And the opportunities for choosing color, pattern, and designing has allowed for some fun creative expression. Many of the women were interested in learning to use a sewing machine or to increase their knowledge of this useful skill. After hand stitching their pillows, each woman had the opportunity to attach the backing fabric to their pillows using the sewing machine.
This project is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by The Greene County Council on the Arts.
Hudson Family Literacy is a program through Columbia Opportunities, an organization that “helps solve poverty-related problems in our community”, explains director Tina Sharpe. The women who run the Hudson Family literacy program: Sophia Becker, Jewel Chestnut, and Hosneara Kader have worked together for over 20 years. Their suggestion of offering an incentive to increase attendance for Stitching Exchange became an opportunity. The women were told that whoever came to the most workshop sessions could win a sewing machine to take home at the end of the project. Ms. Sarris contacted her community and several sewing machines were donated. If you have a working home sewing machine you would like to donate please contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.