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Migrant Quilt Project

Capitol Hill Arts Workshop presents the Migrant Quilt Project 

October 28 - December 9, 2019

The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop presents the Migrant Quilt Project October 28 through December 7, 2019 in two locations: CHAW’s Gallery at 545 7th St, SE and at Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 East Capitol St NE. There will be a reception on Saturday, November 9th from 5:00-6:30 p.m. at CHAW featuring Jody Ispen, the founder and director of the project. The Migrant Quilt Project is a grassroots, collaborative effort of artists, quilt makers, and activists expressing compassion for migrants from Mexico and Central America who died in the Southern Arizona deserts. Free and open to all. CHAW’s general gallery hours are: 9:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. (M-Th), 9:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (F), and 9:00 a.m. - 2 p.m. (Sat). Quilts at Lutheran Church of the Reformation can be viewed on Sundays throughout the exhibit from 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. or by appointment by calling (202) 543-4200. For more information, visit or call (202) 547-6839. 

“Quilts reside squarely at the intersection of art and stories; of form and function,” says Amy Moore, CHAW’s Executive Director. “Like the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the Migrant Quilt Project introduces a meta level for understanding the complex interplay of social, political, and emotional planes of a hot button topic in America (and elsewhere) as only art can.”

The quilts in this 18 piece collection memorialize the immigrants who have died in the Arizona desert each year since 2000. Materials used in the quilts were collected at migrant layup sites used for rest and shelter on established trails in the Sonoran Desert. The name of every one of these individuals is inscribed on the quilt, with the word “unknown” or “desconocido” used to designate an unidentified person’s remains.

“Our goal with this exhibit is to increase awareness through visual storytelling of issues facing immigrants coming to the United States and to promote a better understanding of their lived experiences,” says Moore. “Our hope is a collective consciousness-raising that can positively impact the way in which people treat each other.” 

Lutheran Church of the Reformation is an active, collaborating congregation in local, national, and global refugee relief and support efforts, working with Good Neighbor Refugee Resettlement Team, Washington Interfaith Network, ELCA Metro Washington, DC Synod, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Salvadoran Lutheran Synod, AMMPARO and Lutheran World Federation.

Since 1972, Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW) has been a hub for the meaningful exchange of ideas through art making, both inside and outside of its walls. CHAW leverages creative expression and the power of the arts to uplift communities by connecting diverse groups of people, supporting artists, facilitating arts-driven networks, and encouraging civil discourse through all forms of art. CHAW’s mission is rooted in the idea that art and community building are synergistic and that community, by definition, must be intentionally inclusive.  At the heart of inclusive arts spaces are personal stories, unique journeys and the desire to better understand them, for our own sake and the sake of others.

This exhibit is made possible in part by the Capitol Hill Community Foundation

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