San Jose Quilter Stitches Message of Peace and Hope

Mel Beach of San Jose made the "Peace of Mind" quilt directly in response to the election of Donald Trump as US President.

Mel Beach of San Jose made the "Peace of Mind" quilt directly in response to the election of Donald Trump as US President. (Photo: Courtesy of Mel Beach)

Mel Beach created her “Peace of Mind” quilt last November, directly in response to the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President. The San Jose-based artist says the piece was specifically inspired by “the growing tensions, hostility and violence directed towards immigrants, LGBTQA people, women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities.”

100Days_300x300zBeach says she wanted to come up with something that would provide a sense of hope for people. “Most Americans are compassionate, peaceful and respectful of diversity,” she says. And as Beach sifted through her fabric scraps, she fixed on one of the most iconic symbols of hope: the “peace” sign.

What began with a simple, taped outline evolved into a large, rainbow-colored emblem, surrounded by floating triangles that symbolize a fractured nation.

The basic idea begins to take shape.
The basic idea begins to take shape. (Photo: Courtesy of Mel Beach)

The confetti print background is intentionally bright and cheerful. Beach filled the outline with five-inch charms she crowd-sourced from 60-plus quilters living around the country.

“In my darker stages, I had considered incorporating fear, hate and harm,” Beach writes in a blog post detailing her process. “But as I found peace, I chose to focus on the positive messages which I would free motion stitch into the background.”

The process photos.
The process photos. (Photo: Courtesy of Mel Beach)

Those messages came from more than 25 of Beach’s Facebook friends and family members, and included words like “advocate,” “community,” “integrity,” and “listen,” among others.  Beach also stitched in 30 translations of the word “peace,” such as  “amani” (Swahili), “fred” (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish), “heping” (Chinese) and “paix” (French).

Beach is hardly alone marrying her love for quilting with her concern for the larger community. She’s one of numerous quilters who are submitting pieces for consideration in an upcoming exhibition titled Threads of Resistance, scheduled to open in July at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Mass.

In its full glory.
In its full glory. (Photo: Courtesy of Mel Beach)

“I felt so incredibly happy and at peace as I worked on this quilt,” Beach says. “I hope you, too, will celebrate its joy and peace. ” Q.Logo.Break

San Jose Quilter Stitches Message of Peace and Hope 11 April,2017Rachael Myrow

Author

Rachael Myrow

Rachael Myrow is KQED's South Bay arts reporter, covering arts and culture in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties. She also guest hosts for  The California Report and Forum, files stories for NPR and hosts a podcast called Love in the Digital Age.

Her passion for public radio was born as an undergrad at the University of California at Berkeley, writing movie reviews for KALX-FM. After finishing one degree in English, she got another in journalism, landed a job at Marketplace in Los Angeles, and another at KPCC, before returning to the Bay Area to work at KQED.

She spent more than seven years hosting The California Report, and over the years has won a Peabody and three Edward R. Murrow Awards (one for covering the MTA Strike, her first assignment as a full-time reporter in 2000 as well as numerous other honors including from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Radio Television News Directors Association and the LA Press Club.
Follow @rachaelmyrow

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