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Series embraces the rich diversity of music, art and history

Posted: April 25 2024 at 06:48 AM
Author: Lisa Smith, NIC Communication Specialist

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The art and culture of different ethnicities is the 2024 focus for the NIC Anti-Racism Task Force series. They will piece together a variety of experiences and learning in “The Quilting of America: Celebrating the Diversity of God’s Children.”  

Quilts are a common household item. The image can help us connect the rich diversity of music, art, and history in our nation and world. Quilts have played a significant role in American culture for centuries and are as unique as the people who created them. Similarly, different ethnicities have distinctive art forms. 

The first event was an immersion in Black culture. On April 19, a group met at Kathryn’s Soul at the French Market in Chicago to enjoy a buffet of quality comfort food. They then went to Orchestra Hall to hear the Gateways Festival Orchestra, with special guest Take 6, a Grammy-award winning musical group, and conductor Anthony Parnther. Comprising 100 musicians of African descent, Gateways Festival Orchestra has musicians from a variety of professional backgrounds.  

“This was a great event to kick off our 2024 series,” said Tim Alexander, the chair of the ARTF Series. “It was inspiring to sit with full stomachs in the concert hall and be surrounded by the beautiful music.”  

Make a square for the Arts & Culture Quilt project

Help create a beautiful handmade quilt that will reflect the beauty of the many cultures that make up the Northern Illinois Conference by contributing a square. 

An individual, church, or organization in the conference may provide a square, which should measure 8.5 inches by 8.5 inches. It should represent the maker’s culture, community, history, or art; the team encourages including a theme of racial justice and equity, which may be expressed by a phrase, title of a song, etc.  

You need not be adept at sewing to make a square. Consider using fabric markers to draw a design on a piece of fabric. 

The submitters will complete and quilt individual blocks. Each square must quilted and mailed by Nov. 1. 

Ida VanBoven, a member of First United Methodist Church in Elmhurst, will assemble the individual squares into the final quilt, adding sashing, borders, binding, and a hanging pocket on the back.  

Visit the Quilt page for more details about submissions, including a video tutorial. 

On July 27, the series features a walk through the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford. Participants will learn about the art and culture of different Asian groups as they tour one of the highest-quality Japanese gardens in the world.  

The series will feature Hispanic and Latinx art and culture at a Hispanic/Latinx ministry celebration on Oct. 5. Native American art and culture will be honored on Oct. 12 at Starved Rock State Park in LaSalle County. Joining with the participants from the 2023 Civil Rights Pilgrimage and the Conference Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM), participants will engage in education and advocacy for our first-nations siblings. 

To accompany the series events, the ARTF is organizing the making of a wall hanging quilt that will have contributions from around the conference. The team invites people to submit a quilt square for the project. The final product will be shared at the 2025 Annual Conference session. They will also prepare a booklet about the projects and those who contributed squares.  

“From the moment I heard about the Arts and Culture programs for this year, especially the quilt project, I was immediately interested in supporting the project in any way I could,” said Ida VanBoven, the team’s volunteer quilting coordinator, who is from First United Methodist Church in Elmhurst. “The focus of the message surrounding the inspiration for the quilt—faith, culture, social justice, and equality—all speak loudly to me and guide me through my actions and beliefs.” 

Learn more about the Arts and Culture Series 

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