Cecilia Cornejo is turning Lanesboro’s stories about home into a form you could cozy up in.
The original Wandering House exhibit was, as the name suggests, a former ice-fishing house that Cornejo turned into a mobile audio booth, where last summer and fall, she asked Lanesboro residents to tell stories about their lives and answer questions about what home meant to them as they sat alone in the vibrant space.
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One of the prompts, “I know I’m home when …” engendered enough responses to fill a community quilt.
Carleton College professor Cornejo is a Latinx immigrant in Northfield, where the Wandering House project originated. Now, she’s repurposing the audio collected in both towns in the first offshoot of the Wandering House project — The Embroidery Project. Residents of both towns are invited to embroider sentences and fragments of the audio onto fabric pieces, using provided fabric kits.
Once assembled, the pieces will become community quilts containing each city’s residents’ musings on home and belonging — 25 patches on the Lanesboro quilt, and about 60 in Northfield.
“From early on, I knew that the Wandering House project would produce a number of different things,” she said. “Being an audio project, it will have audio installations, or audiovisual installations, perhaps. But I knew that wasn’t going to be everything.”
That particular opener, “I know I’m home when,” seemed a natural fit for a collaborative piece of art. One person came up with the sentence, and now another member of the community will interpret it visually — perhaps with decorations, or creative use of color.
“I was very interested in having this content passed through many hands,” Cornejo said. “In translating, people will be copying these sentences verbatim, but they have been encouraged to apply designs or illustrations, anything that strikes their fancy. It’s their own creativity and what they do with those words.”
There’s no baseline skill level required to sew a fabric patch — in fact, Cornejo hopes that most of the participants will not be quilters. A child’s patch will look markedly different from that of an experienced sewer — that’s precisely the beauty of it.
“To me, it was another way of communicating what community is and having people contribute along the way,” she said. “One person contributed their thoughts and their voice, and another person will make these into tangible, visible things.”
Sewers will have until December to complete the embroidered patches, and Cornejo will take another couple of months to assemble each set into the quilts.
“They’re not all squares and they’re not the same size, so it’s going to be very interesting when the time comes to put them together,” she said. “I’m glad to say I don’t know exactly what will happen. That’s part of why we’re doing it.”
Email Cecilia Cornejo Sotelo at email@example.com and let her know you would like to participate in The Embroidery Project — Lanesboro version. It's not necessary to have participated in the Wandering House project before — or to have any sewing experience.
Sewers will be assigned sentences based on their length preferences. Then they’ll be connected to Lanesboro Arts to arrange a time to pick up their embroidery kit. There will be a virtual workshop for those who have little or no experience embroidering.