Jayna Zweiman: Welcome Blanket

July 18, 2017–December 17, 2017

Kat Coyle, Come Together Blanket

Kat Coyle, Come Together blanket design

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, crochet, or sew the blankets for new immigrants as well as for refugees seeking resettlement 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.

Browse Blankets

Browse the blankets that we've received and catalogued so far! Blankets are being added daily.

How to participate

Make a blanket
Visit the Welcome Blanket project page for patterns for knitting, crocheting, and quilting, welcome note templates, and information on hosting events and other resources. 

Share your progress
Share your story and blanket with us using #welcomeblanket

No-cost shipping
Thanks to our project supporters, blanket-makers can send their contributions to the Smart at no cost.

To do so, pack the blanket in your own box or envelope and e-mail (1) your name and address, (2) shipment dimensions, and (3) shipment weight to welcomeblanketshipping@gmail.com. We'll reply with a pre-paid UPS shipping label for you to print, attach to the package, and drop off with UPS, give it to a UPS driver, or schedule for pickup.  

Ship on your own
The Smart also appreciatively accepts blankets from participants who choose to cover the cost of shipping their own packages. This support helps to keep Welcome Blanket programming free and open to all.

Send to:

Welcome Blanket
Smart Museum of Art
The University of Chicago
5550 S. Greenwood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

Deadline extended!
The deadline to send your blankets and personal notes for inclusion in the project has been extended to November 4, 2017

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.

Where's my blanket?
Browse or search our digital catalogue of blankets above. Due to the high volume of blankets being sent, we may not be able to unpack and catalogue yours right away. We will make every effort to include blankets sent by the November 4 deadline in the exhibition. 

Not a knitter? 
You can support Welcome Blanket at the Smart Museum! By making a gift, you’ll help to sustain the full range of programming associated with the exhibition, facilitate on-going conversations, and ensure that all of this remains free and welcoming for all. You’ll also support the costs associated with shipping, cataloguing, documenting, and distributing the blankets.

Related Programs

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.

Unpacking Parties | Saturdays, 1–4 pm

We've been inundated with boxes of Welcome Blankets! Drop by and help us unpack, document, and prepare the blankets for display at an unpacking party. Volunteers welcome! Stay for as long as you can. No experience or prior training is necessary, the process will be taught to you. Check our Facebook page for details on the next unpacking party. 

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.