Sew Beautiful: Age-Friendly Quilters of Wellness
By Tameeka Ford
In honor of International Women’s Day, Age Friendly Central Brooklyn, Inc. (AFCBI), Assembly Member Stefani L. Zinerman and Emergesoul Wellness Boutique celebrated the women of Meditation, Art, and Storytelling (M.A.S) collective at the Macon Library. Their beautiful self-care quilt of 35 squares of art expressing love, emotion, and poetry was showcased followed by an artist talk.
“It was a true honor to recognize and celebrate the uncompromising spirit and resiliency of the women of Age Friendly Central Brooklyn during our Women’s History Month program,” stated Assembly Member Stefani L. Zinerman. “The exhibit of their quilt-making and storytelling inspired hundreds of people during the pandemic and continues to give on. May we follow their lead and use our gifts to overcome adversity, uncertainty, and life’s challenges to bring beauty, peace, and healing to the world.”
The curator of the event and M.A.S participant, Mrs. Willie Banner opened up the exhibit by sharing her experience with the project and spoke about her quilt panel, stating, “the image of my quilt panel represents hugging my family again after not embracing my children and 92 year old mother for over two years due to Covid-19.”
M.A.S is a quilting, healing, and oral history art project born from a vision of two women’s concern for other women’s health, wellness, self-care, and self-love. Inspired by Audre Lorde’s statement, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Tameeka Ford, MSW, owner of Emergesoul Wellness Boutique and senior chair yoga guide in collaboration with Harlem-based artist Elvira Clayton co-facilitated a nine-week virtual healing journey. The project engaged 25 senior women, members of Age Friendly Central Brooklyn, Inc, between the ages of 62-75+ to share their stories and artistic expression of self-care, self-love, and self-empowerment. The group practiced various forms of meditation to open up their creative pathway and release stress and tension. They attended virtual trips to museums and quilt exhibits, and shared stories never told. Project Artist, Elvira Clayton, taught the group about the history of quilting in Black communities as it was used as a means for storytelling, preserving cultural traditions, and signals to escaping slaves.
Elvira stated, “the M.A.S community art quilt reflects how self-care practices might bring about positive changes for the project’s participants and their communities.”
M.A.S participants and AFCBI Ambassador, Ms. Velvet Hall spoke candidly about her experience with the project and her self-care practices since participating in the group. She shared, “…this project came at the right time in my life, it was very therapeutic.” Faith, Healing, Joy, Love, Self-Care are words that beautifully adorn Ms. Hall’s quilt panels.
The Heritage Room overflowed with older adult women who expressed sincere adoration for the quilt and listened attentively as each participant shared their journey and self-care practices. Attendees asked questions of the M.A.S participants and requested for a new M.A.S project to begin so they can join!!
Justice Dweynie E. Paul, Supervising Judge of Kings County Civil Court was the guest speaker for the event and closed out the event sharing insight on womanhood, self-determination and building family legacy. “Kudos to Assembly Member Stefani L. Zinerman and Age Friendly of Central Brooklyn for an exceptional program! What a great way to celebrate International Women’s Day,” stated Justice Dweynie E. Paul. “The national theme for Women’s History Month is ‘celebrating women who tell our stories’. This exhibit will fill the spirit, soothe the soul, and warm the heart. The women captured and preserved our rich stories and history through the art of quilting. It was a complete honor to participate in the opening day of the exhibit and add my mother’s story to the tapestry of art.”
Tameeka Ford, M.A.S co-founder, presented final remarks stating, “this event and the M.A.S project is about inspiring older adults into action to live more fully. We need your presence, your wisdom, and your love flowing through our community. It’s our desire that you and the quilt will continue to spark conversation about active aging, self-care and healing.”
The M.A.S Quilt is on a journey throughout Brooklyn and beyond displaying the feeling of Love, Loss, Happiness, and Solidarity. The journey began at the historical Restoration in May 2022 and it has visited local community events. It will be on exhibit at Macon Library for the entire month of March, then heading to The Brooklyn Quilting Guild.
The M.A.S collective continues to meet weekly via Zoom for reflection and meditation; older adults 62 and older are welcome to join.
If you know someone that would like to have the M.A.S QUILT displayed at a prospective event or want to join our meditation group, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.