How the travelling sewing box is changing lives

Photo by: Sebastian Vidal Bustamante

When I first came up with this project, my intention was simple: To provide a safe and warm space for Latin American immigrant women in NZ to tell their stories, to share their journeys of migration and to sustain their language while stitching their  memories into a piece of cloth that keeps growing and extending.

What I didn’t expect was to witness the transformation that would take place within the group and within the women themselves as the project evolved from week to week. I know first hand that when you arrive in a  new country, no matter the surrounding circumstances, you are forced to evolve, develop and review your position in the world. In my case this generated a main shift in my own identity which created a horrible sense of dislocation, disengagement and an identity crisis which took me many years to overcome. This project gave me the opportunity to make other women’s journeys a little bit better and to share my own story of migration with them.

It was very moving for me to witness all the energies in motion as these women stitched their lives into our cloth. It was very moving also to experience that the stories and memories which were being stitched were creating new memories as the craft process was happening, and in doing so, new connections were being made, new processes were being learned and new possibilities were being conceived in front of all our eyes.

It was a privilege to work with these women, it was a privilege to work with ALAC and its wonderful team and a fantastic start to the cloth that will keep extending, will keep growing and will keep travelling as the travelling sewing box project travels from city to city in NZ and beyond!

Meet the amazing group of Latin American immigrant women from Hamilton, NZ. Wow, what a fantastic, talented and committed group of women.

 

The group working together, connecting individual stories into a bigger community piece.

 

The Travelling Sewing Box Project ©

Cloth with Memory

A project created by Victoria Martinez Azaro

As an immigrant myself, this project is very close to my heart and its main objective is to give immigrant women a voice and a sense of participation within society by giving them a space to slowly stitch their thoughts and feelings on a  piece of cloth while talking and sitting around other women in a safe and supportive environment.

flyer alac blog

Can we thread identities through colour?

As an immigrant myself I am well aware of the shifts and turns of an ongoing identity that finds its way through language structures, social behavior and a constructed understanding of what surrounds us.

 

A dislocation of the self, as painful as it may be, can also lead to a break through of the system opening up new possibilities that may lead to productive shifting mechanisms operating within our environment.

Engaging the viewer/consumer in a process of questioning and considering is what drives my interest in terms of empathy for the making. Empathy for the process, empathy for the wearer who will ultimately engage and react to the object. A visceral reaction… because it was created from a visceral set of experiences. Without a reaction from the viewer/user I believe there is no purpose to Fashion. Fashion with a purpose, Fashion made FROM empathy through its process of creation FOR the consumer/viewer/user, Fashion made to last, Fashion made to question. A piece of clothing that engages, that formulates ideas and connections and takes the consumer to a place of participation.

Any aspect of tangible Fashion starts with a thread. A thread that might become cloth, a thread that might become an embroidered embellishment, a thread that has colour, a thread that has life and means something because it was spun and dyed by someone. Who made this thread? Who coloured this thread? where does the colour come from?

Part of my studio practice is the ongoing research in terms of materials. Locality has become an important aspect of my work as I keep developing a sense of belonging within my adopted environment.  I have started a dye garden a year ago and I am producing my own colours extracting the dye from my plants. It is a rewarding and a very satisfying process which generates no toxic waste and assists me to reflect about the love and empathy I have for process.

Working in my studio threading my identity through textile narratives