A SHORT HISTORY OF VISION QUILT
Increasingly troubled by gun violence in the United States, artist-activist and former educator Cathy DeForest decided it was time to catalyze individuals to create change. Inspired by the AIDS Quilt’s success in raising awareness of and shifting perspectives on HIV/AIDS, she imagined a nationwide project that would address gun violence through creative expression and inclusive dialogue.
Cathy invited a diverse group of individuals to create 18 x 24-inch panels conveying their visions on how to prevent gun violence. A core group of volunteers set the direction for Vision Quilt. They chose a map of the United States as the logo for Vision Quilt with the words Together We Can Prevent Gun Violence to show both the national focus of Vision Quilt as well as the intention of bringing diverse individuals together to create social change.
Beginning in the winter of 2015, initial Vision Quilt workshops hosted by volunteers reached a wide spectrum of participants including survivors, students, retirees, veterans, politicians, and gun owners, as well as artists, writers and educators. Interest in Vision Quilt has grown rapidly through volunteers and workshops in Oregon, Massachusetts, Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois.
From 2016- 2022 Vision Quilt's work has been based on partnerships with schools, community centers and coalitions with underserved communities impacted by gun violence, especially youth. Partnerships include workshops at San Quentin State Prison, Alameda County Probation Department’s Camp Sweeney for incarcerated youth, and at-risk populations in Chicago through the National Veterans Art Museum and the Chicago Public Library. In Oakland, California, our partners include Lighthouse Community Charter School, Fremont High School, Youth ALIVE!, Oakland's Violence Prevention Coalition, the Oakland Frontline Healers, East Oakland Youth Development Center, and the Public Health Institute's FACES for the Future. In Southern Oregon, outreach included homeless youth and middle school students and at-risk student after-school programs. Other alliances include work with the Grandparents For Gun Safety, the Soul Box Project, San Francisco Poster Syndicate, and Attitudinal Healing Connection.
An in depth three month curriculum toolkit entitled "Addressing Gun Violence: Creating Visionaries, Storytellers and Community Activists" developed in partnership with teachers from East Oakland's Lighthouse Community Charter School is available for FREE to middle schools and high schools nationwide.
Vision Quilt panels have been exhibited in community centers, museums, public schools, churches, universities and worn in rallies, marches and vigils. The Vision Quilt website showcases results, resources, and the ever growing Virtual Vision Quilt.