“I’m Speaking”: Meet the Feminists Stitching the Country Back Together

In wide clean lines for a rainbow of colors, this woven yarn carries a message: we are stronger when we come together.

One hundred years and one day after American women gained the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Kamala Harris officially won the nomination for vice president of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. She would be the first woman, and the first of black and South Asian descent, who was elected Vice President of the United States.

In a year in which museums and other organizations honor women, there was a special and unique way of celebrating Harris in an art form that unites all women: not in bronze statues, but with her portrait made of living thread.

On opening day, Love Across The USA officially kicked off a large-scale public mural led by LA-based international “yarn bomber” and street performer London Kaye.

Kaye was inspired to use the colors for the mural from the jacket Kamala Harris wore in the 2019 San Francisco Pride Parade. The vivid reds and blacks, greens and blues and lavender, with orange and yellow – that was what Kaye said, “The colors and her smile on that day…. what I used as inspiration for the sketch. ”

“This is how the pattern came about,” explains Kaye. “Each participant was encouraged to use yarn from their supply at home. They kindly provided me with photos of thread colors that matched the color swatch in the sketch and I assigned the pieces from there. ”

A public mural of Kamala Harris made from living yarn was led by artist London Kaye (pictured) and brought to life by over 150 crochets. (LondonKaye.com)

The work was brought to life by over 150 crochet workers who each crocheted a 24 “by 24” square. Dedicated to International Women’s Day, March 8th, the squares are sewn together into one piece, 6 x 12 meters.

Crochet art connects through loops to create a strong fabric. Acrylic was specifically chosen as the yarn for outdoor work, as it absorbs little water and does not fade so quickly in the sunshine. In wide clean lines for a rainbow of colors, this woven yarn carries a message: we are stronger when we come together.


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Crochet workers from California and Louisiana came to partake in the installation. Gutsy Media / Wake Up & Vote, a social impact content studio that produced more than 500 digital short films for the 2020 elections, partnered with Kaye and filmmaker Jonna McKone to document the process. They collected video diaries from attendees across the country and joined the crochet team over two days of shooting in DC while the group sewed the panels together and installed the mural. The digital short film was put online by various national women’s organizations on the occasion of the Month of Women’s History.

The crocheters have another connection with Harris, who shared her experience of crocheting Afghans. She was last seen visiting Danielle Romanetti’s very popular yarn store, Fiber Space in old town Alexandria, and leaving with a yarn purchase.

Kaye also teamed up with one of the contestants, yarn dyer Sheila Negron Harrison, to create a pattern in a smaller version that people can make from home. The set captures the beautiful colors of the mural in hand-dyed 100 percent wool yarn and contains a special crochet hook with a written pattern.

The mural by Kamala Harris is the seventh installation of Love Across the USA. Some of the other murals celebrating historical women are by Sojourner Truth, Minerva Hamilton Hoyt, Nina Simone, Marion Anderson, Susan B. Anthony, and Harriet Tubman.

The mural is currently located outside the Officina Restaurant on Maine Avenue on Wharf in the Southwest Quadrant of Washington DC, where it will remain until Memorial Day before being moved to a permanent location.

From pre-civil war events to post-civil war civil rights, this wharf has strong ties to local and national history – in fact, history literally lies beneath your feet there.

A plaque on Pearl Street indicates that one of the most brutal episodes in American history took place here on April 15, 1848. After a storm at sea, the abolitionist schooner The Pearl, was returned to Washington port with 77 black refugees seeking freedom.

Most recently, a plaque was put up for Thurgood Marshall, a southwestern resident who became the first African American to appear on the Supreme Court. Harris has spoken of her admiration for Marshall and was sworn into office with her hand on his Bible.

Now everyone can look up and see the portrait of America’s first female vice president with her clear, simple and sublime message to all: “I SPEAK.”

Take action on a Harris priority: the addition of equality

“One of the most important actions the Biden and Harris administration can take – one that will affect all walks of life for women and girls – is to ensure that the Equality Amendment becomes part of the US Constitution,” wrote MS. is Carrie Baker.

And Vice President Harris agrees, “ERA is happening, let’s start there,” she said during a 2019 campaign rally to an Iowa audience when asked what she would do for women in the first 100 days of becoming president would be chosen.

To take action now in support of ERA, visit erayes2021.org, where you can contact your US lawmakers directly, share your ERA story, and find an ERA toolkit of ready-to-use images for social media and other advocacy resources.

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