The 70273 Project

 In Guest Blogs

Occasionally, I feel an instant connection with a new person I meet whether on line or face to face. And so it was with Jeanne, an Internet friend. At first, we met through words because I appreciate the way she strings them together. Then I saw her art and another bell rang. Further endearment was added as I learned about Nancy, her husband’s sister who is developmentally challenged, and the quilts Jeanne is making from Nancy’s drawings.

Jeanne has the southerner’s charm of story-telling but also a laser focus on fairness and I gather wears a white hat on most days righting both small and large injustices with clarity, wit and a modicum of patience. So it is really not a surprise that the project you will read about today tackled her head on and she answered the call. It is with profound respect that I introduce Jeanne Hewell-Chambers.

And now the page is hers.


 

70273 Project Quilt One, Ann Grasso Pattern Art

Pieced by Kitty Sorgen. Quilted by MJ Kinman.

 

Ideas? I collect them like charms that jingle on my wrist . . . often retreating to my computer to let some fictional woman breathe them into existence. But at the end of January 2016, an idea happened along, whispered in my ear, and refused to be handed off to some digital woman created in my imagination . . .

Between January 1940 and August 1941 through a program called Aktion T4, German Nazis murdered 70,273 physically and mentally disabled people. Assessing physicians never met the person they were evaluating, basing their decisions solely on a form created by the T4 leadership. Once two physicians placed a red X on the bottom of the form, the person was murdered.

The very minute I heard this, I knew what to do: gather 70,273 quilt blocks from around the world to commemorate each and every person murdered because they weren’t deemed perfect. Two weeks after the idea came to call, on Valentine’s Day . . . Love Day . . . my birthday, I launched The 70273 Project. Guidelines are few and simple:

  • blocks must be one of three sizes
  • a white base to represent the paper of the medical records
  • two red X’s on the white base to represent the death sentence
  • a signed Provenance Form from each Maker giving me permission to use the blocks.

Blocks began coming in right away, each as unique and individual as the person they represent.  Some are machine stitched:

 

70273 Project, Ann Grasso Pattern Art

Block by Kitty Sorgen: USA.

 

70273 Project, Ann Grasso Pattern Art

Kim Monins: Channel Islands, UK.

 

70273 Project; Ann Grasso Pattern Art

Gisele Therezien: Channel Islands, UK.

Some are hand stitched:

 

70273 Project; Ann Grasso Pattern Art

Linda Heron: Canada.

 

70273 Project; Ann Grasso Pattern Art

Steve Jankousky: USA.

 

70273 Project, Ann Grasso Pattern Art

Faye Cook: Australia. Faye has a mentally disabled sister, Libby. We met through my pre-70273 posts about stitching Nancy’s marks and have become friends. They send me goodie bags of women’s dresses that have been purchased or cast-off from local charity shops. I use the dresses in another quilt series.

 

Some entire families make blocks:

70273 Project, Ann Grasso Pattern Art

Laurie Dunn’s grandsons show off the blocks they made: USA.

 

Some friends make blocks when they spend a weekend together:

70273 Project; Ann Grasso Pattern Art

Pieced top (it’s not quilted yet) by Loretta Forest and her friends on a recent weekend retreat.

 

Many blocks come with stories of relatives, friends, students, loved ones who would most likely have received two red X’s had they lived in a different time:

70273 Project; Ann Grasso Pattern Art

Chloe Grice: France. Chloe has an adorable 4-year-old daughter, Tula Belle, who has a disease that would most definitely have “earned” her two red X’s. Chloe uses antique French linens and laces in her blocks, and she sometimes uses cloth pieces from Tula’s upper body brace she must wear every single day.

 

70273 Project; Ann Grasso Pattern Art

Susan Graham, USA. Susan dedicated her blocks to students she taught. Because I don’t want anything but the two red X’s on the block – nothing that would pull focus, as we say in theatre and distract viewers’ attention from those we commemorate – she wrote the names on the back of the blocks.

 

Corinne Micropoulos used fabric from her grandmother, cloth she’d been saving for a special purpose:

70273 Project; Ann Grasso Pattern Art

Corinne Micropoulos: France. She writes that she’s been saving this fabric from her grandmother and feels that her grandmother is pleased to be working together on The 70273 Project through this fabric.

 

 

70273 Project; Ann Grasso Pattern Art

Pieced and Quilted by Janet Hartje.

 

Everyone can participate in The 70273 Project – even if you’ve never held a needle and thread. This is a project where we check perfection at the door and allow ourselves the freedom to just create without judgment. Through The 70273 Project, we commemorate people who were perfectly imperfect. To try to make The Perfect Block would be more of a travesty than a tribute.

 

70273 Project, Ann Grasso Pattern ARt

Pieced and quilted by Margaret Williams.

 

The finished quilts will be completed in all different sizes – something to fit any and every venue who will have them on exhibit. The purpose of The 70273 Project is threefold: commemorate those 70,273 people who were so casually and callously murdered; celebrate and raise awareness of those with special needs who live among us today; and educate all who will listen so that an atrocity like this never happens again.

Though it is a soft deadline because we will not stop until each person is commemorated, the goal is to have all 70,273 blocks in hand by the end of October 2017. Why? The German Nazis spent 20 months murdering these people, so we’ll spend 20 months commemorating them because it shouldn’t take longer to love than it takes to hate.

Won’t you join us? If you’d like to make blocks, a financial donation, or both, visit www.JeanneHewellChambers.com.

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Links of interest:

Showing 13 comments
  • Rose Petronella
    Reply

    What a wonderful project! I’m glad to know about it. Thank you for the inspiration.

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      Ann Grasso
      Reply

      Hoping some of your groups might participate, Rose! Thank you for reading and responding. It is a worthy project.

    • Jeanne Hewell-Chambers
      Reply

      Rose, thank you for taking the time to comment. Like Ann, I hope you will become a part of The 70273 Project and help commemorate these people we refuse to forget.

  • Jeanne Hewell-Chambers
    Reply

    Ann,
    Your introduction makes me a better woman because I adore you way too much to have you go through life as a liar. Thank you for that tattoo-able introduction, for making blocks, and for the opportunity to share The 70273 Project with your good readers. You are a special woman, and I am tickled to call you friend.

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      Ann Grasso
      Reply

      Smiles, Jeanne!

  • Chloe
    Reply

    Thank you Ann, for helping to spread the word about this remarkable, unique project, which has already touched the hearts of people from many different countries. I am so very, very proud to be involved with this project and to be able to call Jeanne a dear friend to me and my family. Now more than ever, the world needs reminding that love and acceptance of diversity is the only way forward; that every life, every single one, is a precious gift.

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      Ann Grasso
      Reply

      Thank you for your message of warmth, especially on this day of dissension. We know there are millions of fine people all over the world and we need to be positive about standards of inclusion.

  • Kirry Toose
    Reply

    My heart swelled with pride, there is humanity still out there- today is Remembrance Day and I felt it so apt,mth at I am discovering your project today.

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      Ann Grasso
      Reply

      Thank you for your valuable contribution through commenting. We are stronger together and Jeanne will be encouraged by your participation in her project. I am encourage that you have joined our collaborative website. Hoping to hear more from you!

  • Liliana Fijman
    Reply

    Hi Ann , No doubt you befriended a keen spirit. This proyect could not be more timely and it is right up your alley! I am happy to participate, eventually i should get my act together. Good pulp project!

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      Ann Grasso
      Reply

      Thank you Liliana – yes, it is a worthy project. I know a piece of your pulp art will be something Jeanne will personally appreciate and keep in her collection. I am not sure it can be integrated into the actual “cloth” quilt. Jeanne has specific directions about size etc. which she spells out on her website. I do appreciate your forwarding to your friends and acquaintances who might be willing to participate. Thank you, thank you!

  • Lise
    Reply

    What a joy to learn that people’s hearts can still swell with good and true love. I can’t wait to share the project with others and begin my own block. Thank you, Ann, for lighting the way for those 70232 souls.

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      Ann Grasso
      Reply

      Thank you Lise – it is gratifying to learn that you will contribute and encourage others to as well.

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Stacy Reck, Journey, Art Journaling70273 Project Quilt One, Ann Grasso Pattern Art