Arts, Civil Rights, and the CSC

March 29, 2022

The Christian Scholars' Conference is excited to announce the infusion of the arts in this year's Fred Gray Plenary Session.

In her closing plenary, Catherine Meeks will reflect upon quilting as a major image to help illuminate the processes necessary to create a sustainable world. Her address, "Rags of Love in the Quilting Circle: A Metaphor for Transforming Oppressive Systems" will claim that the old garments of oppression must become transformed by the imagination of those who can see what is possible while living in a completely different reality from the one imagined. The quilting metaphor helps in exploring the challenge lying before humanity to create a sustainable world by bringing out fragmented wounded selves and systems to the circle of healing.

To deepen our engagement, CSC attendees are invited to participate in the actual production of a quilt prior to Dr. Meeks' plenary.

In collaboration with CSC alum Mary Lou Hutson, initial design work for the quilt has already begun. Inspired by the quilt art work of Karen Arizmendi and Misik Kim, and with variations of their own, the CSC quilt will be an abstract design with a blue background, with navy on the outside fading into a medium blue as it approaches the center. The center image will be a circle, symbolizing the new earth we hope conference attendees will be inspired, which will re-purpose some of the existing structures of our societies into new structures which work better for all people.

The central image of "our quilt" will be comprised of multi-colored scraps of cloth, selected by the conference attendees for inclusion in the finished product and put together using improvisational piecing.

I intentionally wrote "our quilt" because each CSC attendee will be asked to participate, by bringing meaningful pieces of cloth, or selecting from options Meeks and Hutson will provide, and signing the fabric that will become the back of the finished quilt. There will be room to inscribe the attendee's name, session or paper (if presenting), or a quotation or bit of personal information, for posterity.

All the materials needed for each person to use can be provided.

Work stations will be arranged for this project to begin on the day of your arrival.

Meeks, who has just received the Joseph R. Biden Lifetime Achievement Award for her career work, will join us at the CSC after preaching at the National Cathedral in Washington DC and then, in a national broadcast with David Brooks, discuss the "Beloved Community."

At the CSC, we will have the unique opportunity to help create the metaphor for the powerful message that will come from Catherine Meeks. With expert guidance, all of us will physically participate in exploring pathways to heal the world.

The completed quilt will be housed in the Center for Christianity and Scholarship on the Lipscomb Campus and serve as the artistic symbol for the 2023 CSC!