In July 2009 we, Jeannie Cohen and No Mi Che traveled to Chiang Mai, Thailand to work with Cultural Canvas.
Cultural Canvas is a non-profit organization that works with a wide-range of social groups and humanitarian organizations in Chiang Mai. The Canvas Art Program believes in providing a voice for individuals by exploring various creative means, including visual, performance and experimental arts.
One organization we were particularly interested in working with through Cultural Canvas was Mplus. Mplus is an organization of self-identified gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender individuals (see link). They are one of two organizations in Thailand that is working to promote sexual health and sex and gender freedoms; the other is Rainbow Sky in Bangkok.
We wanted to explore the relationships between these individuals' memories and dreams in the form of a quilt. The quilt has an image of a purple tree on both sides; this tree is symbolic of Mplus as a whole. The leaves on these trees represent the individuals. They were each given two canvas leaves on which to paint one memory and one dream. These personal depictions were then sewn back to back on the quilt.
Quilts are a timeless tradition associated with the world of sleeping and the stages of dreaming. The first stage is a conscious contemplation and reflection upon ones day. The second stage is dreaming, a subconscious reflection of our inspiration and ourselves. The third stage is waking, the birth of awareness. The 'Traveling Quilt of Dreams' will bring awareness of the community of Mplus and to the people and places it travels. First stop... Laos!