Jayna Zweiman: Welcome Blanket
July 18, 2017–December 17, 2017
Kat Coyle, Come Together Blanket
Artist, designer, and Pussyhat Project co-founder Jayna Zweiman’s work explores how political activism can be “positive, creative, and collective.” Her new participatory project Welcome Blanket confronts issues around immigration and refugee resettlement through a tapestry of handmade blankets.
Welcome Blanket is a crowd-sourced artistic action that calls for over 3,000 blankets to be knit from 3,500,640 yards of yarn, a length equal to the proposed border wall dividing the United States and Mexico. Welcome Blanket invites participants to knit the blankets for new immigrants as well as for refugees seeking resettlement—following a pattern by Kat Coyle, designer of the Pussyhat—and send them with personal notes of welcome and stories of immigration to the Smart Museum of Art.
The project will open on July 18, in an empty gallery in the Museum which will be quickly activated as a receiving station to sort and store the blankets. Blankets will accumulate in the space over the run of the project, transforming it from a visually sparse site of potential action into a vibrant installation of handmade blankets. Throughout Welcome Blanket, visitors will be invited to spend time knitting in the gallery or joining a series of public programs that will take place over the fall, creating spaces for conversations around issues of human rights, immigration, and the legacy of artistic activism.
In December, the blankets will be distributed in coordination with immigration organizations and refugee resettlement agencies and other community partners.
How to participate
Visit the Welcome Blanket project page for knitting patterns, welcome note templates, and information on hosting events and other resources.
On July 10, we will post information about free shipping to the Smart Museum. The deadline to send your blankets and personal notes for inclusion in the project is September 5, 2017. Send to:
Smart Museum of Art
The University of Chicago
5550 S. Greenwood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
Blankets will be exhibited within the Museum and photographed and published online as part of the project. Welcome notes and stories may be published online too—please include your name only if you are comfortable sharing it. Anonymous submissions will be accepted. Blankets will not be returned to senders and will not be accessioned by the Smart Museum. At the end of the exhibition, blankets will be distributed to new immigrants in coordination community partners.
Additional information will be announced in the near future.
As the installation itself is created through a crowd-sourced production of blankets, so too will the Museum-hosted dialogues and public programs be designed with our many partners including cultural workers, activists, academics, students, civic partners, and you.
Have an idea? Contact us at WelcomeBlanket@uchicago.edu.
About Jayna Zweiman
Jayna Zweiman is a multidisciplinary artist and designer. Zweiman’s independent practice combines architecture, art and new media to focus on experiences that overlap physical, virtual and conceptual spaces. She a co-founder of Pussyhat Project, an international network and movement of women’s rights supporters. The project was highly visible at the 2017 Women’s Marches with one of the largest crowd-sourced art advocacy projects ever. She received her AB from Brown University in visual arts and economics and her Masters in Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She lives and works in Los Angeles.
“Many Americans recognize that we are all immigrants and are looking for a pro-active, positive, and collective way to respond. Welcome Blanket is about how to take a length of division and make it an opportunity for inclusion.”
— Jayna Zweiman