Inside: A community art project and lesson inspired by Ed Johnetta Miller, a renowned fiber artist, and her work with quilting at Yale New Haven’s Children’s Hospital.
What is a community? What makes a community strong?
We’ve been asking these questions for generations. Whether or not they realize it, our students think about it too. Who do they trust? Who can they count on? Who makes up their community? How has their community changed over time?
Community Art Project
Journey to our Hearts Home, a community art project guided by Ed Johnetta Miller, invites us to ask ourselves about our community—what unites us, what makes us different, our shared experiences, and how art can bring us together.
This artwork was created by over 400 hospitalized children, along with their families, caregivers, and the staff from the oncology unit of Yale New Haven’s Children’s Hospital under the guidance of renowned fiber artist Ed Johnetta Miller. Each person who participated was encouraged to bring pieces of cloth that held special meaning, such as beloved t-shirts or childhood blankets. They then cut up the cloth and created unique quilt squares that were all assembled together to create a one-of-a-kind quilt.
Community Art Project Lesson Plan
Whether you’re planning on a mural, quilt, or another community art project, introducing your students to Journey to Our Hearts Home is a great way to get them thinking about personal connections and commonalities. You can start with a classroom art discussion.
- What is going on here?
- What do you see that makes you say that?
- What materials do you think this work is made with?
- How do you think it was created?
- Compare and contrast the different areas. What significance do you think each area holds?
- Focus on the words. Why do you think they were included?
- How do color and pattern play into this artwork?
- How is the artwork unified?
- How is this artwork connected to community?
After the discussion, you can share more about the children and families who created the quilt fiber art under the guidance of Ed Johnetta Miller. Students can use the poetry or reflection worksheets in the Art Appreciation Worksheet Bundle to explore the artwork individually.
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Community art projects are a great way to bring together a class, school, or even the entire town! You can take inspiration from Ed Johnetta Miller and Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, creating an improvisational quilt made from fabric (or paper) and glue using old t-shirts, blankets, et cetera. Remind students to keep the elements and principles of art in mind as they create their design.
What community art projects have your classes completed?