Conference Schedule


Friday July 15th

5 - 6 | Registration

6 - 7 | Welcome and Opening Keynote by Dorothy Burge

7 - 8:30 | Opening Panel: Abolitionist Art/ists : Tracing histories and stitching connections

With Sarah Ross, Anna Martine Whitehead, Pablo Mendoza, Monica Cosby, Damon Locks, and Dorothy Burge

“Art helps us to remove the ceilings from our imaginations. And art helps to facilitate dreaming. And my God, we need dreaming. And we need imagination more than ever, in this time, and always.” - Mariame Kaba

Why do so many social movements and abolitionists turn to art to imagine a new future? Artists are trained to develop work through both the exercise of imagination and the practice of craft. That is, in order to render an image of the new, one has to, over and over again, make the mark, stitch the seam or shape the material. In the process of trying and trying again to make something anew, the practice of abolition is possible. That is to say, through iteration and imagination we might get to a world where harm reduction is normalized, where policing and punishment is rarefied, and where throwing people away in cages for decades or lifetimes is not an option. But to get there, we have to make new systems of care and accountability, we have to practice being wrong and learn how to be with others in learning. Art making is both a process and practice that helps us lean into a space that we don’t yet have figured out and be challenged by that which is not yet known.

Saturday July 16th
8 - 9 Registration9 - 10 Welcome and opening Grounding exercise led by Rhonda Wheatley 10 - 11:30 Opening Plenary - Conversations on Quilting, "Healing," and Abolition Sharbreon Plummer, Savneet Talwar, and Rachel Wallis11:30 - 1 Lunch and Mobile Street Art Cart Join artist William Estrada in the Neiman Center to screen print abolitionist posters and patches. Meal vouchers provided for Naf Naf Grill 28 S Wabash Ave
1- 2:30 Workshops/Panels
  • Art and Abolition Inside and Outside of Prison Walls - Jude Glaubman, Sangi Ravichandran, Rachel Wallis, and Alisha 'Lili' Walker
A round-table discussion of the challenges and possibilities of abolitionist fiber art collaborations between artists inside and outside carceral settings.
  • Quilting as Creative Resistance - Rochele Royster
This workshop focuses on quilting as creative resistance with a brief review of BIPOC artists that have used quilting to tell stories that have creatively resisted oppressive systems. This will be followed by intention setting and journaling around story telling. Questions to consider are: What story is important to tell at this time and why? How do I tell a story using metaphor? How do I tell a story explicitly? What oppressive systems in my life do I want/need to abolish? Participants will piece together and assemble a story quilt on a 12 by 12 square fabric square. Sewing, quilting and embroidery techniques will be shared and accommodations and modifications will be made for those who are unable to sew with needle and thread. A digital image will be made of the completed squares for participants to keep of the completed quilt.
  • STITCH PLEASE PODCAST (Live Recording) - Lisa Woolfork ft. Alexandria Eregbu
Stitch Please is the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. Join host Lisa Woolfork as she engages in meaningful discussion with her guest, Alexandria Eregbu, about the philosophy, projects, and pedagogy that curate and guide her life and creative work.
3pm - 4:30 Workshops/Panels
  • A Choreopolitics of Textile Work - Cordelia Rizzo
In this interactive workshop, Cordelia Rizzo will explore the concepts of "choreopolitics and choreopolicing" in relationship to abolition and textile works. While participants engage in improvisational sewing and piecing, they will explore the way that carceral systems control bodies and movement, and how movements in Mexico have used textiles to evade and push back against those systems.
  • Sally Hemings University Connecting Threads - Lisa Woolfork and Tobiah Mundt
Sally Hemings University Connecting Threads (SHUCT) is a community-engaged course that explores questions generated by re-framing “Mr. Jefferson’s University," a moniker for the University of Virginia. Led by two Black women, the course destabilizes the dominant narrative of the university as Jefferson’s primary property and by extension that of similarly entitled white men. Sally Hemings, a girl enslaved and raped by Jefferson, exercised the full extent of her limited agency to craft a legacy of liberation for her descendants. Taking Hemings’ role as an enslaved seamstress seriously, Sally Hemings University Connecting Threads interrogates the ways in which aesthetic practices (art, craft gestures) can operate within and alongside liberatory strategies.
Through probing analysis of texts, cultural practices, and vernacular artifacts alongside art actions and craft gestures, students in SHUCT engage in a holistic course of study that continually asks questions about how modes of thought unfurl themselves to connect, build, and sever how we make meaning around education, art, learning, and liberation. We interrogate the boundaries between education and study, art and craft, cultural practices and cultural critique.
SHUCT engages creative pedagogies to explore the curricular and cultural consequences of imagining the University (of Virginia, and others) through the lens of a marginalized enslaved Black woman. SHUCT scrutinizes systems of dominance including overt and subtle forms of white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism.
  • MARKINGS - Discovering My Black Identity - Julian Jones
Artist talk and discussion with Julian Jones, with conversation around his experiences and how quilting has helped him become more in tune with himself. "I can connect and transform a historic craft with issues I am dealing with now by embedding the principle of abstraction within my works. I want to be the voice for young Black emerging artists struggling with their identity. I want to give hope and provide other Black artists with a sense of possibility."
  • Adire Mothers: Indigo & Tie Dye Workshop - Alexandria Eregbu
Learn basic adire “tie and dye” patterns from Yorubaland with artist and scholar Alexandria Eregbu. Adire is a resist-dyed cloth produced and worn by the Yoruba people of Yorubaland— present day southwestern Nigeria in West Africa. Both the production and distribution of these highly desirable and seductive blue indigo cloths were led by Yoruba women, whose cultivation of natural indigo brought centuries of great economic wealth and success to African and American culture, until the creation of synthetic indigo at the turn of the 20th century.
In this workshop, participants will get to create their own indigo resist-dyed samples while reflecting on the relationship between mothers, resistance, creativity, and ecological harmony.

6pm to 8pm - Stitch by Stitch Exhibit Opening at Weinberg/Newton Gallery 688 N Milwaukee Ave #101Venue and bathrooms are wheelchair accessible. Mask will be required withing the premises.Free and open to the public no RSVP required.

Sunday July 17th1pm - 3pm- Community Day of Making at the PO Box Collective (6900 Glenwood Ave)What Does Solidarity Look Like? Radical Empathy, Visual Voice, and Collaborative Quiltmaking with Dorothy BurgeQuilts are powerful expressions of history and a long-standing artistic practice within the African American tradition of storytelling. The visual voice offered through quilting is unique and necessary in our modern world. As technology streams graphic images of police violence, quilting is an art form that invites the viewer to construct, craft and chronicle black narratives creatively and with care. In this quilt design workshop, participants will hear from Chicago police torture survivors and explore what solidarity looks like through design activities that contribute to the making of a quilt honoring the lives of Chicago police torture survivors.