3.08.2013

Flint Foreclosure Quilt

I finished the Flint Foreclosure Quilt a few weeks ago and shipped it off to it's new owner,  the Michigan State University Museum. They commissioned the quilt for their permanent collection.  They have a growing collection of quilts connected to human rights issues and thought one of the foreclosure quilts would be a wonderful addition. It was such an honor to make this for them. It will also be a part of the Quilt Index, which is a fabulous resource for any artist. It was a challenge determining just which neighborhood in Flint should be represented. Ultimately, the museum chose a neighborhood right in between two vacant GM plants. But really, there are so many other blighted neighborhoods in Flint that are suffering as well.

Flint Foreclosure Quilt, 2013. Cheesecloth, linen, cotton and quilting thread, 26" x 46"
What really inspired me while making this quilt was reading so many stories about residents who have gone through so much and are doing everything to rebuild their communities. It seems there has been outreach from the national and local governments, but I see so much more that could be done. The question is how and who? It's an overwhelming issue and there are so many other factors that come into play, economic, social, etc.

Flint Foreclosure Quilt detail, 2013. Cheesecloth, linen, cotton and quilting thread, 26" x 46"
The sad fact is even though foreclosure rates have fallen in the past year, there's a hidden story behind the lower numbers. In a lot of these neighborhoods where you look at a mapped list and see few listings, it's not because the neighborhood is bouncing back, it's often because the homes are just abandoned, or worse yet, demolished. That is the case with much of Flint.

Flint Foreclosure Quilt detail, 2013. Cheesecloth, linen, cotton and quilting thread, 26" x 46"
And I'm now discovering as I do more research using aerial imagery, there are plenty of these demolished homes all across the US. Some cities openly discuss it, like Cleveland and Detroit, but there are others where I can't find any written data to back up what I see from the air. I keep digging in the hopes I can share the next chapter with you. I plan two more quilts and I hope these will express the new reality. What a can of worms I've opened ...

6 comments:

Connie Rose said...

Perhaps an even sadder issue is where do all the people go whose homes have been foreclosed on? Do they just disappear from the system?

Sophie Truong said...

Sad issue, as ever. Your quilt is stunning though, and it's inspiring to see a Museum commission one and by doing so, raise awareness to the issue.

kathrynclark said...

I agree, Connie. This is also a story that's gone missing. There is certainly an increase in rented homes as opposed to bought homes throughout the US, which seems to be what most people who've lost to foreclosure end up doing. One of the things Flint is looking into is offering remaining residents the chance to move into more stable neighborhoods for no fee in order to just demolish what's left of some neighborhoods. Not sure how that must feel for the remaining residents but it certainly isn't an easy choice.

Victoria said...

What an honor, Kathryn. Congratulations. May your work continue to raise awareness and inspire some action.

winnsangels said...

Sad story Kathryn. Glad you have been able to share it.
I also wanted to let you know that I have put links on my winnsangels blog today around the theme of "stitched". I was very pleased to include your blog. I look forward to seeing many more of your wonderful creations.

kathrynclark said...

Thanks so much Victoria and thanks for the mention, winnsangels. It's a great list of wonderful artists!

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