Course Sews Together Community

by April York

The craft of quilting has always been a communal activity. During winter term, Dr. Kurt Gohde and Dr. Kremena Todorova’s interdisciplinary studies class called “Community Engagement through the Arts” will be using the practice of quilt-making as an effort to bring the Lexington community together.

Rather than making one big quilt, the plan is to make slipcovers and then display these in the furniture store at 760 N. Limestone St. owned by Marty Clifford, president of the North Limestone Neighborhood Association.

Clifford has been instrumental in helping Gohde and Todorova with the course, and the North Limestone neighborhood is the one that the course primarily works with. In order to involve the community, four quilting bees are planned: one at Third Street Stuff and Coffee, another at the East Seventh Street Center, one at Transylvania in the Campus Center gym on the afternoon of Jan. 30, and a fourth at another yet to be determined location. Everyone is invited to donate scraps of fabric for the quilt and to come to a quilting bee and make a square.No quilting experience is needed.

Gohde and Todorova plan on reaching out to the community and advertising the event through Facebook, Myspace, printed posters, word of mouth and announcements at neighborhood association meetings. In addition, they have secured a community arts project grant from LexArts for the course this year; as a result, LexArts will be promoting the course’s events as well.

The two professors have also established connections with many local publications in the past two years of working with the course. Additionally, the class itself meets off campus, at Griffin VanMeter’s office space on the corner of Loudon and Limestone Streets. Gohde describes the course as an opportunity for “students to thoughtfully and productively” engage with the community, particularly the neighborhoods located north of campus.

Todorova agrees, and commented that while she often teaches literature authored by people at the margin of society, she sees this as an opportunity to “do something practical about it.” She finds it “so ironic” that our Transylvania community, which is in the societal center, is physically right next to a neighborhood at the societal margins.

Other events the course will promote are the opening reception for the exhibition’s installation when it is completed and an open mic night on April 7, where some of the reflective essays the students, instructors and community members write, based off of the “This I Believe Series” on National Public Radio, will be presented.

Last year, Gohde and Todorova wanted to help members of the community feel comfortable coming to Transylvania, so the class project was an exhibition of people’s personal collections in Morlan Gallery. As Gohde explained, if you really look for it, almost everyone has something they collect, whether it be magnets, decorative roosters in one’s kitchen or, in the case of Todorova, napkins. Putting this exhibition together helped students and community members connect on a comfortable level.


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