By Cathy DeForest, Vision Quilt Founder
Upon returning from the Codex Book Fair I feel energized, even exhilarated. With more than 200 exhibitors from 26 countries, Codex is one of the largest's book and fine arts fairs in the world. Lasting the better part of a week in Richmond, California, I was thrilled to be an exhibitor, surrounded by so many creative and inspiring people. It was also an opportunity to introduce the Vision Quilt to more people.
This mural at RYSE Youth Center depicts youth overcoming challenges through working together in Richmond, CA.
With dozens of panels from the Vision Quilt on display, we shared the project's message with hundreds of people, and I met a number of inspiring individuals also working to prevent gun violence. Individuals like Francisco Rojas and Jed Rodriguez from Richmond's Ryse Youth Center, who work to create "safe spaces grounded in social justice that build youth power" with a focus on empowering young people to "love, learn, educate, heal and transform lives and communities." Ryse Center staff visit hospitals to support gun violence victims and their families as well as offer young people counseling, academic support, job support and opportunities for artistic expression.
Fellow Codex exhibitor Eileen Boxer was displaying her artist book "Report US 2015," an ongoing work which documents police reports from all of the shootings in 2015 in the United States. The work highlights the unbearable magnitude of gun violence in this country; volumes one through four focus solely on January 2015, reporting 3,136 incidents. The book's pages contain a transferrable red ink, which actually stains readers hands as they read.
Here children working with the Social Justice Sewing Academy display their sewing projects with pride.
I learned of a kindred organization called the Social Justice Sewing Academy. The SJSA "facilitates the creation of a new generation of leaders through the introduction of sewing alongside the increased awareness of social justice issues, providing a unique, innovative way for students to become activists." Tom Sherman also visited the Vision Quilt booth, describing his connection to Oakland's Scraper Bike Team. Founded by Tyrone Stevenson and Avery Pittman, the Scraper Bike Team teaches youth to build and repair bicycles.
Pictured here is The Original Scraper Bike crew with their amazing, artistic bicycle creations.
As the Vision Quilt continues to grow and more people are making panels, it is endlessly heartening to meet so many passionate and creative people also dedicating their work and their lives to preventing gun violence. Together our community is strong!
CODEX presenter and Vision Quilt's Social Media Specialist, Derek Pyle, holds a beautiful panel made by Sabina Nies.
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