Gale Hall holds up one of the ‘Welcome Quilts’ incorporating artwork by local students.

Many in the community may remember the ‘Leaving Home: Migration Through the Eyes of Children’ event sponsored by Voices from the Border in March 2020. The centerpiece of the ten-day series of events was an exhibit in Cady Hall called ‘The Art of Asylum,’ featuring the artwork of children of asylum seekers staying at Casa Alitas Welcome Center in Tucson. The artwork, created both on paper and fabric, was collected over a period of months by then arts and activities director, Valarie Lee James, and ultimately curated into the exhibit. 

Drawings on fabric were sewn into original quilts by Oracle’s Esperanza Quilters for the exhibit. Gale Hall, one of the quilters, as well as an early childhood educator, developed a curriculum that centered around lessons in empathy and belonging to enhance the exhibit. 

Patagonia became the pilot program that paired the curriculum with the viewing of the exhibit by 100 local children aged 4-18. As part of the curriculum, Hall invited the children to create messages of welcome on fabric squares. Using their artwork, Hall assembled eight beautiful ‘Welcome’ Quilts intended to be returned to Patagonia so the children could decide on their placement for long-term display. 

The quilts will be exhibited at Cady Hall during the Patagonia Art Walk on November 26 – 27 (10-4), where local students, their families and the public can see some of the fruits of this project. 

A quilt is an apt symbol for what the project represents, having historically been used as a way of storytelling that holds love and memories, provides physical comfort and represents stability and family or community. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a representation of cultural identity and faith, rich in maternal symbolism, also appears on each quilt to invite people from Mexico and Central America to see these messages of welcome intended for them. Voices from the Border, in partnership with Gale Hall, is excited to present these works of art to the community along with quilts from the original exhibit. We hope to see you there.