Hearts for Charleston Quilt — Liz Ackert

It is beyond gratifying to see how other fiber artists are responding to the call for The Hearts for Charleston Quilt. I will post about them in the order of their arrival.

Liz Ackert of I’m Going to Texas  sent the second square. Liz exemplifies what I really admire about makers of Slow Cloth — over-the-top attention to detail, composition, and color, skilled dyeing and needlework, plus tremendous thoughtfulness and love informing the design. I really encourage you to visit her blog and read about the process, because it’s fascinating!

First, Liz dyed the cloth.

Liz Ackert photo and work

Interestingly, one of the plants she selected for dyeing is called, “Friendship sage (Salvia amistad … named “amistad” for “friendship” but also the name of a ship that was the scene of a slave mutiny).” [read about preparation of the cloth here and here].

Then, Liz embroidered the names of the Emanuel Nine* onto strips, along with each person’s occupation and age. This must have brought home the impact of the tragedy. Liz also stitched the date of the massacre in various red tones at the far right of each and every strip. That, too, must have been powerful, to stitch that date over and over.

stitching and photo by Liz Ackert

stitching and photo by Liz Ackert

Liz tells us on her blog that the Ethel L. Lance strip was reworked prior to the weaving

Because I hadn’t made a decision about the names and also because some gardening reminded Liz of Psalm 139 (about being made in secret and woven together), Liz was inspired to flip the strips over, rendering the names secret in a way.

heartsforcharleston-names-lizackertThere is something fitting and poignant about the names disappearing.
heartsforcharletson-lizackert-Then, Liz read many of the follow up news stories and was inspired by statements made by surviving loved ones. She selected one quote to correspond with each of the deceased and then stitched them to nine more strips. [read about these decisions and the square’s assembly here].

Here are those statements:

Every fiber in my body hurts … I will never be the same
Prosper and believe in any of your dreams
This has truly broken my heart in every way
We are the family that love built. We have no room for [hate]
She was where she needed to be … she was not a victim
I forgive you and my family forgives you
You took something very precious … and I forgive you
Their legacies will live in love so hate won’t win
Hate is taught … she never taught us to hate

As we all know, many of the utterances were remarkably and profoundly forgiving.heartsforcharleston-ackert-heartbroken

Weaving the strips interrupted most of the phrases. Liz made two exceptions. The astonishing phrase: I FORGIVE YOU.

And: BROKEN MY HEART.

She was worried that the word “hate” might end up visibly prominent but it was buried.  Liz initially felt an impulse to tidy up the denim heart (above) and then decided against it, letting its raggedy state stand as a symbol of the ravaged community instead. [read more here] The entire heart is composed of fabric cut away from the reverse applique heart (below).
heartsforcharleston-lizackert-starsThe tiny pink “X’s” stand for the children left behind — there are twenty.   On the back, Liz stitched a beautiful label, and when attaching it to the square (partly to solve a buckling issue), it just so happened that it traced nine horizontal lines across the ecru heart. 

Such a beautiful quilt square! It will be wonderful in another month to work at doing justice to it and the other contributions in making a single cloth for the Emanuel AME.

*I have consciously decided not to call the deceased “victims”, though clearly they were. I feel as though it diminishes them somehow and one of the survivors specifically stated she refused to think of them as victims. In places I refer to the group as “the Emanuel Nine”, following Liz’s lead.

To read more about this project,
please refer to the the sidebar category:
“Hearts for Charleston Quilt”.

11 thoughts on “Hearts for Charleston Quilt — Liz Ackert

  1. ravenandsparrow

    Liz, your block evokes the layers of grief that surround each of the lost nine, the cumulative effect of such a loss, and the abiding power of forgiveness. It calls to us all.

    Reply
  2. Liz

    Dee – I can’t say “thank you” enough for this … the Hearts for Charleston Quilt project, this thoughtful post, but above all the opportunity to be a part of something larger and more meaningful than anything I could have done on my own

    And to Dana, Jenny, Nancy, Kathy, Mo, and Debbie … your words touch my heart

    Reply

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