The quilt cozily fitted to the letter “d” will probably be a quieter part of Denton’s gay pride celebrations this weekend.
But to Denton fiber artists Karen Bravo and Marie Butler, the rainbow quilt says plenty.
“I’m the kind of artist who really loves the theory,” said Bravo, who is a graduate student studying gender and women’s studies at Texas Woman’s University. “I love the ideas behind art. I’m into the academic part of it. That’s why I love to use art to express all these theories.”
The rainbow quilt — tailored to fit perfectly over the “d” in the “Lil’ d” sign in the front yard of Oak Street Drafthouse & Cocktail Parlor — is a lot of history and painstaking stitchwork that celebrates 50 years of progress toward equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.
Members of the Denton Fiber Collective pieced together the quilt in the traditional rainbow colors of the pride flag.
“We added the black and brown stripes to include the black and brown voices of the movement,” Bravo said.
Bravo and Butler, also a graduate student of gender and women’s studies at TWU, said they liked the idea of taking a longstanding art form — quilting — and making it a form of contemporary political expression.
The Denton Fiber Collective, established by Bravo, Butler and TWU Assistant Professor of Art, Design & Technology Julie Libersat, is an egalitarian circle of makers who knit, quilt, stitch and crochet. The artists use everything from traditional fibers – cloth, yarn, thread – to plastics. Butler said the collective is for newbies and longtime artists. And the collective has a few goals: to bring makers together to share ideas and expertise, and to use fiber art in social activism.
“This has been coming together for a while, and we had our first meeting in May,” Butler said.
Bravo said she and a few makers from a local knitters and crocheters group staged a “yarn bombing” for Denton’s Pride celebration in 2018. This year, the fiber collective was gathering steam and Bravo suggested a “quilt bombing.”
She and Butler took careful measurements of the big green letter – a process that required patience and what Bravo calls Butler’s “amazing quilting math.”
“I told her ‘No, if we’re going to do this, it’s going to fit. No makeshift stuff here,’” Butler said.
A quilt bombing seemed an appropriate way to honor Pride. Quilting is historically related to women and domesticity, and both Bravo and Butler said they’re drawn to the forms that communicated values and ideas without text.
The quilt bomb includes hundreds of squares of fabric, Butler said. The collective will put the piece up on Friday morning, where it will stay until Sunday afternoon, the last day of Denton’s Pride events.
“Our hope is that people will take pictures of themselves with it,” Butler said.
“It’s definitely the kind of piece that people can take pictures of and post it on Instagram and social media,” Bravo said.
For Bravo, the quilt bomb is a stealthy way to get passers-by to consider pride, and what it means to the community.
“You can choose not to read a book about feminism or a book about how many transgender women are killed,” Bravo said. “You can choose not to read something that makes you think about other people’s lives. But if you drive down Oak Street, you’re going to see a rainbow on a ‘d.’ You can’t not see it.”
To join the fiber collective, visit its Facebook group at http://bit.ly/2Ycf54q.