Saturday, May 18th 12PM-5PM
Yonkers Riverfront Library, Atrium
The YES YONKERS! Community Quilt Project is the brainchild of Yonkers-based artists, Evan Bishop and Katori Walker. Together, this creative couple is unifying the City of Yonkers through this all-inclusive, fun and engaging art project. This community-based art project is made possible by funding from ArtsWestchester with support from Westchester County Government. The vision of this project is to bring together neighborhoods, cultures and generations of people that traditionally would not interact. Evan and Katori are inviting Yonkers residents, business owners, people who work in and/or visit Yonkers to participate in this free art project.
Why “Yes Yonkers”?
This phrase was Katori’s emphatic answer to Evan as he questioned whether he heard her correctly. He didn’t see the opportunities in the “City of Hills” that Katori did. Around the same time, Shonda Rhimes released, ‘Year Of Yes’. It began to make sense and Evan finally embraced the idea of investing their collective artistic talents in the City of Yonkers. Three years later and they’ve produced two grant award-winning community art projects, The 100 Words Of Wisdom Exhibit and The YES YONKERS! Community Quilt Project. The former featured photographs of over 140 senior citizens adorned with body art. The latter is considered the largest community art project in the history of Yonkers that combines 1,000 hand-painted canvas swatches into one unified body of art.
What Was The Inspiration?
The basis for this all-inclusive community art project came from an unlikely source. Evan, born and raised in the Bronx during the ‘70s and ‘80s, utilized the fundamental principles behind the Hip-Hop culture to invite people from various neighborhoods and cultures together. “Peace, Love, Unity and Having Fun” was the anthem for the Pop-Up Creation Stations, which appeared in over forty locations throughout Yonkers. It was there that people could sit down to paint on a canvas swatch for free, while sharing supplies and ideas with friends, neighbors and strangers. Katori envisioned one large piece of art that created by many. She recalled the global impact of The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and how one topic inspired thousands of people to express themselves artistically. As a longtime resident of Yonkers, she recalls the segregation, the homelessness, and the inequality. This project provides a visual voice for many who go unheard. It also captures the love and appreciation people have for the City of Yonkers. Together, they are inspired by the love and gratitude they received from the City of Yonkers for their previous community project, The 100 Words Of Wisdom Exhibit. In that project, they engaged mature adults ages 60 to 102 only. This time around they wanted everyone to participate.
Is It Really A Quilt?
ABSOLUTELY NOT! With all due respect to quilters on all levels, the term “quilt” was used loosely to describe the patch-like design the swatches will make once joined together. The final product will be more like a banner or flag created by people who live, work, shop, dine or visit Yonkers. Even the idea of sewing the canvas swatches together was soon scrapped for the use of metal grommets instead. This will allow sections of the quilt to be constructed and reconstructed in different locations easier.
“Why not?” is Evan’s response? The grant that he received from ArtsWestchester was to produce a “quilt” with 100 canvas swatches. After reaching that goal in two months, he expanded the project to provide more people with the opportunity to participate. The thought of it being the largest community art project was an afterthought.
When is the “Quilt Reveal”?
All 1,000 swatches will be on view for the first, and only, time during Yonkers Arts Weekend. On Saturday, May 18th, the public is invited to visit the Yonkers Riverfront Library where they will witness the creation of hundreds of people with varying levels are artistry. Local designers and fiber artists will use a portion of the swatches to create wearable art for a fashion show that also features their personal designs.
After the “Quilt Reveal”, what’s next?
The goal is to share sections of the quilt throughout Yonkers for years to come. Public and private institutions will display portions of the quilt on a temporary or permanent basis. Each individual swatch was logged and given a specific identification number. Participants and the public will be able to track specific swatches (via ID#) by visiting the web page or downloading the legend. This will encourage travel and tourism throughout the city.