Community Art by Sima Elizabeth Shefrin

Middle East Peace Quilt

The Quilt is an international community art project consisting of 31 panels which I created with the help of over 300 people, all answering the question: what is your vision of peace in the Middle East?

Participants included Jews and Palestinians, adults and children, and professional artists as well as those new to artistic expression.

The Peace Quilt toured North America for over ten years.

This Land is My Land

This Land is My Land; Fabric Portraits from Palestine, consists of self portraits and messages created in Bethlehem at the Palestine Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation and at the Bent Al-reef Empowerment for Women project, organized by Tent of Nations.

Participants wrote messages they wanted to send to their Canadian counterparts.

Jews and Arabs Refuse to Be Enemies

Jews and Arabs Refuse to be Enemies is made up of fabric portraits I created from a Face Book page at the time, with the same name.

People posted photographs of themselves with someone they were close to who would normally be considered the other.

Other Projects

Fraserview Library

In 2006 at Fraserview Library I created five quilts with students from three neighbouring classrooms, for permanent display in the library. The students came from a grade six class at Sir James Douglas Elementary, an ESL class at David Thompson Secondary and a grade 12 Family Management class, also at David Thompson. The students created individual figures and then worked together in groups to created scenarios from the neighbourhood or from their imaginations. Here I am sewing together into a finished quilt, four of the scenarios created by the students.

South Vancouver Neighbourhood House

Beautiful Banners

Sponsored by the South Vancouver Neighbourhood House and Victoria Drive Business Association, a banner project was developed in 1999 for south Victoria Drive to provide a stronger neighbourhood look and feel to this local commercial area. Along with fellow artist in residence, Yvonne Clements, I led workshops with a wide range of community groups, including children youth and seniors, to develop designs for individual banners. The banners featured recognizable images of home and family from various cultures. Using an appliqué technique, the banners were sewn in bold shapes and bright colours. They were hung in pairs along both sides of Victoria between 39th and 49th Avenues, providing decorative highlights against the backdrop of local businesses and shops.

Art of Living Together

The quilt squares you see here are part of eight quilts which I created with individuals from a number of community and cultural organizations around Vancouver.

I invited members of each organization to join me for a series of hands-on fabric art workshops in which they had the opportunity to create self-portraits reflecting their own culture and identity. These portraits and accompanying stories, along with portraits and stories created by participants in other neighborhood houses and community centres, were integrated into a series of quilted art works.

An exhibit of these quilts opened at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver in May 2006.

The organizations that took part in this project are:

  • Shalom BC,
  • Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver,
  •  Italian Cultural Centre,
  • Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre,
  • Britannia Community Centre,
  • Moberly Art and Cultural Centre,
  • Helping Spirit Lodge,
  • South Vancouver Neighbourhood House,
  • Oakridge Lutheran Church and
  • St Mark’s Lutheran Church.

Some of these organizations now have one of the quilts on permanent display.

This project was hosted by the Cultural Arts Department of the Jewish Community Centre and supported by The Spirit of BC Arts Fund Commissioning Program and the City of Vancouver Diversity Initiatives Program.

Kerrisdale Community Centre

In 2002 as Artist-in-Residence for the Vancouver Parks Board, I designed and created eight welcoming quilts with 200 children and adults in the community centre lobby as permanent art work in the centre.