Quilting Water is an international public art initiative that gathers interviews about water primarily from racialized communities from the U.S. and around the world. The interview is built upon five simple questions about an individual’s memories, observations, and dreams/wishes around water—simply, our past, present, and future. We’re honored to work with local Camden Black artists, and others, who will construct quilts inspired by the Quilting Water archive and serve as guides throughout the project. We hope the archive and quilts will allow us to see relationships between disparate communities and their stories through water.
Quilting Water: Voicing Our Stories on November 17th
We held a special celebration of Quilting Water on Friday, November 17 at Rutgers-Camden. Quilting Water is a global public arts project which stitches together the human connection with water through quilt-making and oral histories. We shared in this communal journey of witnessing the ties between our ecological realities, cultural and spiritual rituals, and the literary forms hidden within our everyday conversations.
The event featured celebrated lead artist for Quilting Water Renata Merrill and acclaimed writer and art quilter Jacqueline Johnson, and a special performance by the Resistance Revival Chorus, a collective of women and non-binary singers, led by led by musical director Abena Koomson-Davis, who joined together to breathe joy and song into the resistance, and to uplift and center women’s voices.
The Quilting WaterPublic Arts Project has gathered interviews about water - examining the intersections between art, race, and ecology - from South Africa, Senegal, Cape Verde, Japan, Puerto Rico, Belgium, the Philippines, the Atayal people of Taiwan, as well as right here in New Jersey. The content of these water stories have been stored and made available to local Black artists who have worked on crafting quilts in dialogue with this global archive.
The Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice at Rutgers-Camden, in conjunction with the Office of Undergraduate Intellectual life, launched the inaugural, university-wide Quilting Water Undergraduate Prize in 2022.
Quilting Water has gathered interviews about water from South Africa, Senegal, Cabo Verde, Japan, Puerto Rico, Belgium, the Philippines, the Atayal people of Taiwan, as well as right here in New Jersey. The content of these water stories are made available to local Black artists who craft quilts in dialogue with this global archive. These artists are led by Camden resident and quilting artist Renata Merrill.
The Quilting Water Undergraduate Prize will bring together a vibrant community of artists and scholars to think and collaborate at the intersection of ecological and racial justice. You will have access to programming, networking and mentorship, as well as be part of a six-member team of undergraduate student-artists. Winners selected by the jury will conduct three interviews regarding water, and then propose and enact a creative, collaborative response. Each student-artist will receive a $1000 award. The student-artists will work collaboratively and have the opportunity to be mentored by artist LaTasha Diggs, during the Spring 2024 semester. Rutgers undergraduates from all departments and across all campuses are welcome to submit.
The student-artists will receive a $1,000 award.
The student-artists will have group mentorship meetings with interdisciplinary poet and sound artist LaTasha Diggs.
The student-artists will be essential members of the ISGRJ community with access to exciting and impactful collaborative and mentorship opportunities.
The student-artists’ work will be featured on the ISGRJ-Quilting Water webpage.
Matriculated students from Rutgers-Camden, Rutgers-Newark, and Rutgers-New Brunswick are eligible to apply for the 2024 cohort of the Quilting Water undergraduate prize.
A writer, vocalist and performance/sound artist, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs is the author of Village (Coffee House Press 2023), TwERK (Belladonna, 2013) as well as the co-editor of Coon Bidness. Diggs has presented and performed at California Institute of the Arts, El Museo del Barrio, The Museum of Modern Art, and Walker Art Center and at festivals including: Explore the North Festival, Leeuwarden, Netherlands; Hekayeh Festival, Abu Dhabi; International Poetry Festival of Copenhagen; Ocean Space, Venice; International Poetry Festival of Romania; Question of Will, Slovakia; Poesiefestival, Berlin; and the 2015 Venice Biennale. As an independent curator, artistic director, and producer, Diggs has presented events for BAMCafé, Black Rock Coalition, El Museo del Barrio, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, and the David Rubenstein Atrium. Diggs has received a 2020 C.D. Wright Award for Poetry from the Foundation of Contemporary Art, a Whiting Award (2016) and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship (2015), as well as grants and fellowships from Cave Canem, Creative Capital, New York Foundation for the Arts, and the U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission, among others. She lives in Harlem and teaches part-time at Brooklyn and Barnard College.
The Previous Quilting Water Undergraduate Prize Winners
The six winners of the inaugural Quilting Water Undergraduate Prize were selected from three Rutgers University campuses in April 2022 and have been conducting interviews, examining relationships between disparate communities and their stories through water, contributing to a growing collection of Quilting Water interviews from around the world. The cohort also received group mentoring by nationally-renowned poet and artist Krista Franklin, who served as a consultant to Quilting Water.
RUTGERS-CAMDEN SCHOOL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Major: English, Minor: Film Studies
"I like how art is a reflection of everyday life and can make a point or send a message. For the Quilting Water project, I have the opportunity to creatively depict the importance of water in communities of color."
RUTGERS-CAMDEN SCHOOL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Major: Graphic Design
"Art has always been used to voice opinions, make change, and document history. Its our way of paving the way for progress while recording it in history. Art is a part of the collective consciousness and we all contribute to it."
RUTGERS-NEWARK SCHOOL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
"Who we are is a mix of how the world sees us and how we view ourselves. Art represents how our surroundings shape us and, in turn, is how we shape our surroundings."
Jochebed Peace Airede
RUTGERS-CAMDEN SCHOOL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Majors: English, Gender Studies, and French
"Ecology, race, and art are united by the one thing that has been perpetuated by the human race almost since the time of creation--injustice. As an aspiring journalist, I strongly believe that documentation itself is an act of revolution. Therefore, art is an extremely
important way to cry out against such injustices by marking that they happened; they should not be swept under the rug.
RUTGERS-NEWARK SCHOOL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES AND HONORS LIVING AND LEARNING COMMUNITY
Major: Behavioral and Neural Sciences, Minor: Creative Writing
"Ecology and race are the backdrop of every canvas. How they influence the air piece depends on the water of integrity, awareness, honor, and open-mindedness."
RUTGERS-NEW BRUNSWICK, MASON GROSS SCHOOL OF THE ARTS
"I am interested about the natural world as well as all cultures, races, or communities. I love to see how the blend of these elements can create unique pieces of art."
Water as Witness: The Significance of Water in our Shared Histories
Read Quilting Water Associate Artist Cherita Harrell's reflections on this Signature Project
Black German Heritage and Research Association (BGHRA) | "Art as Resistance: Transcultural Expressions"
With generous support from the ISGRJ, the Black German Heritage and Research Association (BGHRA) in collaboration with Africana Studies at Rutgers University in Camden hosted its 6th international conference, "Art as Resistance: Transcultural Expressions" from February 23-25, 2023. Building on the success of last year’s speaker series and conference, “All Black Lives Matter: Black Germany and Beyond,” this year’s 3-day, virtual symposium reflected the increasingly expanding vision of the BGHRA and sought to illuminate Black diasporic histories, artistry, and resistance in Europe and other neglected spaces, not just Germany.
Watch the powerful panel from the conference on the Quilting Water Project featuring Cherita Harrell, Jacob Camacho, and moderated by Rosemarie Peña, BGHRA President.