Immigrant Yarn Project Favorite 

Practitioner: 

Date: 

Mar 8 2019

Location: 

San Francisco, CA

The Immigrant Yarn Project (IYP), organized and created by Cindy Weil was a massive work of public and democratic (crowd-sourced), yarn-based art honoring our immigrant heritage and promoting tolerance, difference, and community. Weil reached out across the state and beyond to collect yarn-based creations by immigrants and their descendants. From elementary schools to high schools, from homeless communities to retirement centers, from California to Maine, she collected these works of yarn art, each representing a personal or familial story. The pieces were compiled, sewn together and fashioned into 80 sculptural totems measuring 38 inches in circumference by four, five or six feet tall. Together, the totems stood as a bold, and beautiful metaphor for the magnificent diversity of our country and its immigrant story.

In addition to the totems, the Immigrant Yarn Project featured another component that is equally important. Weil collected the names of each and every contributor or “artist” of the IYP and the countries that they or their ancestors represent including over 600 names representing every country under the sun. The name wall was displayed as an integral piece of the exhibition as it immediately tied together the crazy, bold, beautiful, diverse totems with the people responsible for their creation and their homelands. In this way, the IYP was a profound metaphor for our country and a magnificent statement on tolerance and difference during one of the most divisive periods in our history.

From March through May 2019, over 30,000 people came to visit the Immigrant Yarn Project. It received glowing media and social media attention and became a darling of the National Park Service. Visitors understood and saw it as a magnificent and timely metaphor for the vital importance of immigration, diversity, and difference in America. Once the exhibition wrapped, I put a small selection of the totems up for sale and was able to raise $20,000 that I then donated to the International Rescue Committee and RAICES-Texas for their work in immigrant legal defense and services.

Posted by CindyWeil on

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Nearly 700 people contributed to the Immigrant Yarn Project. over 30,000 came to visit it during its three-month run. Once it closed, I sold several totems and was able to donate over $25,000 to the International Rescue Committee, RAICES on the Texas border and other organizations providing services and legal defense to immigrants in peril.