July 29, 2014


On the evening of August 9, artists and activists will gather in Arden to witness stories from survivors of sexual violence stitched together on 200 bright, red quilt squares. The Monument Quilt will be on display from 4pm to 8pm in the Lutheridge Conference Center as a part of ROOTS Week, a festival hosted by Alternate ROOTS. Larger than two basketball courts put together, the quilt is traveling the United States this summer as part of an ongoing project to create public healing space for survivors of rape and abuse.

“By stitching our stories together, we are creating and demanding public space to heal,” says Hannah Brancato, Co-Director of Force, the organization behind the Monument Quilt. “The Monument Quilt is a platform to not only tell our stories, but work together to forever change how our country responds to rape. We are creating a new culture where survivors are publicly supported, rather than publicly shamed.”

At the display, attendees will witness survivors’ stories, demonstrate public support, and transform their local response to rape. Participants will be able to write their own reflections, hear speeches and join in community. Survivors and allies who wish to add a square to the in-progress quilt can make one following these instructions. Squares brought on August 9 will be added to the display.

The Monument Quilt provides clear and accessible steps to support survivors of rape and abuse when, often, people don’t know where to begin. Through public recognition, the quilt reconnects survivors to their community.

Sexual violence in the United States is nothing short of an epidemic. 1 in 3 women, 1 in 3 trans* people and 1 in 6 men will be raped or abused in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely to experience rape as they are breast cancer.

“The theme for the ROOTS Week 2014 is A Call to Action: Aesthetics. We are exploring the role of artists as catalysts for awakening positive transformation within their communities,” says Jessica Valoris, the Visual Arts Coordinator of Alternate ROOTS. “We are incredibly excited that the Monument Quilt will be a part of our time together. The Monument Quilt Project embodies the important healing work and creative engagement that it takes to build a culture of peace, respect, bodily autonomy, and wellness!”

Force also believes in art and activism as tools for social change.  As Force co-director Hannah Brancato puts it, “Art is a powerful tool to transform culture. Quilt-making has historically served as a means for telling stories and organizing communities around common political goals, because the process and product creates a space for sharing stories. By sharing individual stories and experiences, the role that communities can play in working towards social justice becomes more clear. Sexual violence is a collective trauma that affects us all, and so it can only end when communities come together to create the alternative to rape culture – a culture of support for survivors.”

Established in 1976, Alternate ROOTS supports community art in the Southern area of the United States. It seeks to dismantle all forms of oppression, supporting the work of socially conscious artists. This year will mark the 38th ROOTS Week, where artists and activists will showcase their efforts to use art as a tool for social and economic equality. A crowd-sourced public art project intended to promote a culture of consent and to eliminate rape culture, the Monument Quilt project aligns with the mission of Alternate ROOTS.

This display is part of a twelve-city tour set to begin this August. The Monument Quilt will visit Arden, NC; Birmingham, AL; Baton Rouge, LA; Quapaw, OK; Des Moines, IA; White River, SD; Fox Valley, WI; Chicago, IL; Pittsburgh, PA; Queens, NY; Durham, NC; Baltimore, MD; and Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.

The 100 x 100 foot quilt that will be witnessed this summer is only the beginning. Over the next two years, more and more stories will be added to The Monument Quilt. In a final display, The Monument Quilt will blanket over one mile of the National Mall with thousands of quilt squares to spell “NOT ALONE.”

For those interested in shaping this nation-wide community art project, there are many different ways to get involved. Survivors and allies can make their own quilt square. People across the country are invited to host quilt-making workshops in their school, community center, place of worship, or town. You can also volunteer time or donate money to help make this vision a reality. All the different ways to engage, resources for survivors, information about upcoming events, and more can be found at  If you are interested in volunteering at a quilt display, email