Storytelling through textiles is a tradition as ancient as the first weaving of cloth. Such story cloths, since earliest times, have served as means of communication, documentation, identification, commemoration, celebration, protestation, and resistance.
Making story cloths or story tapestries is a way of reconstructing identity, voice, and wholeness. They are a means of piecing together the larger social narrative identity. They bear witness to the diversity of peoples and experiences that constitute the fabric of society. They allow for intergenerational and intercultural sharing; they stitch silenced stories back into public discourse while giving them a visual presence within the public realm.
Story tapestry program engages diverse community members in sharing their unique stories while underscoring the commonality. Its workshop format allows each voice of the group to be heard while constructing a story tapestry that resonates with their converged collective voices toward healing.
HOW A STORY TAPESTRY IS MADE
Interstate 95 Corridor
Although this program focuses on the communities along the Interstate 95 corridor, it encompasses any marginalized or silenced societal members to an extent beyond the corridor. The following instructions apply to any group for this program.
WHOLE TO 9 SECTIONS
The entire 4ft x 8 ft story cloth is divided into nine sections and distributed to individual community groups.
Each community is given one section with a drawn outline of the underlying image -- an abstraction of the I-95 corridor through Providence, and horizontal lines suggesting fields of cultivation.
EACH SECTION FOR A COMMUNITY
Communities can respond to this underlying image in any way they choose The intention is to have each section of the overall cloth speak to that particular community's relationship to the land, to cultivation, to issues of regeneration, and to each other.
The materials for the story cloth are fabric, thread, and yarn. Stories can be told as pictures and words. If a community cannot finish or cannot sew, the fabric can be cut into the desired shapes and pinned to the background fabric with the words to be included written on a piece of paper.
When needed, the MSH staff will help facilitate the completion of sections.
BACK TO WHOLE STORY TAPESTRY
Once communities finish their sections, the pieces will be reassembled into the original 4 ft X 8 ft story cloth (tapestry) -- but one that now displays the diversity of communities making up the whole. If communities wish to do more than one section, they are most welcome to. However, their various pieces will be included in different 9-section story cloths so as to continue the theme of diversity.
While each complete story cloth only holds 9 separate community stories, the total number of story tapestry is limitless.
The assembled story tapestries will be exhibited in Providence sometime in 2022 and will be posted on the Museum's website.
The complete works will become part of the collection of the Museum of Silenced Histories and be on permanent display once the Museum's physical home is established. Until then, the exhibition will be on moving or pop-up display throughout various Providence locations.