Current Project Research: Story Quilts with Unhoused Communities

This is an ongoing archive of the research, influences, and ideas for our current project, making participatory and collaborative story quilts with unhoused communities and the organizations that support them.

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Sketches for future quilts



Check out some of the sketches and references for our project designs. We love reimagining and repurposing classic quilt patterns. Many of these sketches represent the overall composition of a quilt.












Ana Torma


Canadian-Hungarian textile artist Anna Torma’s embroidery adds a dark filter to the everyday mundane. Her work is about family, Hungary, the immigrant experience, and fantasy, but that fantasy presence frequently takes a dark turn. In the panel Permanent Danger, fire breathing mouths with sharp bared teeth surround figures in a garden. Animals with human faces beg the viewer to question their fear of beasts and the unknown. The plants of the surrounding garden transform at the roots, growing into snakelike creatures twisting at the feet of the humans.

We love Torma’s work because it expands the parameters of what a story quilt could be. The panel tells a story that looks familiar, but quickly challenges your assumptions. Naked figures in the garden conjure the image of eden and the creation story, but in this eden there are many figures, and with one of the male figures stroking his erection, the creation scene becomes an orgy scene. The narrative of the story is non-linear, not only do its subjects refuse to conform to puritan structures, the pattern of the quilt also refuses to conform to the familiar patch work structure of traditional, nay puritanical, quilts.

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Kawartha Truth and Reconciliation Project


This community quilt project is one of several that have inspired our current project. The KTRSG is a group of first peoples and settlers based in Canada, who meet monthly to share stories and histories, learn from each other, and make quilts. While quilting they talk about the brutal history of Canada’s colonial project, racism, and inequality. Each quilt panel illustrates an individual and varied perspective on the theme of the legacy of the residential schools in Canada.

The residential schools were religious schools meant to convert and assimilate indigeous children to a white Euro-Canadian culture. Many patches illustrate an alienating fracture in the psyche that conjures images of science fiction nightmares, the total inversion of a life, including family, internment, abuse, and trauma. Other patches feature images of their endangered culture as an insistence of their identity.  Visit their website to see the whole quilt or read more about the project.

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