Social distancing can take a toll, not only on people’s physical health but their mental health as well.
That was what initially drove art therapy student Missy Rubenfeld to start making a quilt on her own — she needed something to do.
“I just had this idea, I should do something that will last the whole time that I’m social distancing,” Rubenfeld told In The Know. “And then I wrote to my friends from school, I was like, ‘I’m making a quilt.’ Like, texting them frantically, like, ‘I’m going to make one every day. You should make one, too. Let’s all do it.'”
Rubenfeld decided that the quilt would be the perfect project to build upon each day of social distancing, while also ultimately creating a physical reminder to look back on this time.
She posted her concept in her group chat of other art therapy students from the School of Visual Arts. They’d all been exchanging coping mechanisms to stay connected and uplift one another, but something about Rubenfeld’s idea to make a quilt really struck a chord.
It was fellow student Ella Hilsenrath who coined the hashtag, #quarantinequilt.
“Then we had this idea that we need to spread it,” Rubenfeld said. “I posted my first quilt that I made on Instagram and tagged #quarantinequilts, and then I clicked on the hashtag, and I actually saw that a lot of people were making quarantine quilts.”
“Slowly, people actually really did join, and people were posting, and we were so happy,” Hilsenrath said. “It was really beautiful to see that people really connected with the idea, and sharing their craft.”
Eventually, Rubenfeld’s group text members wanted there to be one concise place where people could consistently post updates and also share their feelings about social distancing. That’s when the Facebook group started.
“Art is a really great outlet to express your feelings, to relieve stress, ” Rubenfeld said. “It’s so important to express your feelings in general.”
The group wanted to create a safe space and provide other people with a sense of continuity and routine every day. Each patch of the quilt represents what the quilter was going through and a reminder of how they got through this.
“A bunch of people have actually reached out to me, thanking me for it,” Rubenfeld said. “Which makes me feel really happy that people are being inspired and becoming more hopeful and having something to look forward to.”
“Quilting has such a rich history of bringing people together,” Hilsenrath said. “It was really beautiful to see how many people wanted to do it.”
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