I was always taught that America is the great "Melting Pot" - a unique place where people of different colors, cultures, religions and viewpoints blend together to form a stronger nation. But after this past election cycle, I really wonder if that was ever true. Who knows, maybe we shouldn't try to melt ourselves into one group.
I wonder if the melting pot idea is even possible, in today's climate of nationalism, identity politics, red States v. blue States, using fear of "the other" to gain support for one's own cause, and the ever-changing goal posts of cultural appropriation and cultural sensitivity. I believe we can either create and celebrate a melting pot, or we can protect and reinforce individual identities. We can't do both.
This month's challenge quilt depicts my train of thought on migration as it relates to the USA. Indeed we are a country of immigrants. However, we are not (and maybe never were) a melting pot. Rather, we are a collection of unique identities. So far, we've managed to survive as a country by absorbing people from all over the world and finding a way to see our diversity as a strength. But that diversity can easily become a lighting rod of blame when times get tough.
I'm using color to represent the variety of people in these United States. The batiks are combinations of different colors and patterns which are clearly identifiable. They live along side each other, some are so similar they seem to blend together. But looking more closely, each one has its own distinct identity.
I used a tie-dyed fabric to imagine what it might look like if the batiks suddenly melted.
Only in fabric can these two ideas coexist without canceling each other out.