BRATTLEBORO — Brattleboro-West Arts has become a fixture of our community's vibrant art scene through exhibits, open studio events, public forums and creative workshops. This year, its members felt moved to share a positive message about the current political climate with the community. To that end, 14 BWA members have created an 8-by-5-foot tapestry titled
Art Connects US. Based on the American flag, the mixed-media piece comprises 13 stripes and one square field, each its own work of textile art by a BWA artist that gives voice to issues ranging from immigration to the environment to women's rights.
The artists intentionally created this piece in a positive light to encourage community building and inclusivity. BWA member Petria Mitchell, co-owner of the Mitchell-Giddings Fine Arts
gallery on Main Street, painted the flag's square panel, which features a simple gestural circle that she said represents "the circumference of who we are and what we are. In many different cultures, the circle is symbolic of unity and simplicity and love."
BWA's coordinator, potter Walter Slowinski, said the project grew organically from members' desires to celebrate the compassion of individual Americans in the face of often competing governmental policies.
"It is so coherent, and it so clearly reads as a flag," Slowinski said. "It's such a clear image for us all, but it's also clearly a strong alternative statement, so positive."
BWA members will carry the flag in the June 3 Strolling of the Heifers parade in Brattleboro. Then it will hang — accompanied by statements from the artists about the messages behind their contributions — from June 5 through 26 in the Brooks House Atrium at the intersection of Main and High streets in Brattleboro. A reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. June 6
in the atrium to dedicate the flag, and the public is invited to join BWA to raise our voices in song.
On June 26, the project will move to the display window of Key Bank at 185 Main St., where it will be on view through July 9.
In addition to Mitchell and Slowinski, the following artists contributed panels to the flag: Jackie Abrams, Julia Bacon, Marta Bernbaum, Kay Curtis, Lesley Heathcote, Karen Kamenetztky, Naomi Lindenfeld, Stephen Lloyd, Edith Mas, Kris McDermet, Sharon Myers and Jennifer Wiechers. Brattleboro-West Arts is a group of about three dozen artists who create their art and make their homes within the watershed of the Whetstone Brook. Members represent disciplines as diverse as violin making, glassblowing, textile art, metalworking, stone sculpture, painting, pottery, basket making, woodworking and jewelry. To learn more about BWA and its members, visit brattleboro-west-arts.com.
Painter and architect Lloyd said Art Connects US encapsulates what BWA contributes to the community at large, "The creativity, the thoughtful engagement that each person has brought to
the project, makes me so proud to be a member of this group."