In the last three years, I’ve learned a lot from witnessing how the banners are used and where they show up. They get checked out for protests, marches and political purposes, but also for everything from conferences, public talks and exhibitions, to schools and events. Sometimes people simply tell us they want to put them up in their room. It’s been interesting to look through media coverage of nationwide protests and see how often we spot our banners. It’s important for me to witness their impact as people encounter the artworks in public spaces, newspapers, or on social media, where they are widely shared.
One profound aspect of textiles is the accessibility of materials and how this lends them to improvisation. When recent protests erupted while most of the United States was in isolation during the covid-19 pandemic, people were able to repurpose materials in their everyday lives – clothes, bed sheets, curtains and paint – into declarative statements and demands. In a few words, these signs and protest banners can poignantly express anger (ACAB, short for All Cops Are Bastards), demand justice (Justice for Breonna Taylor), point out ironies or hypocrisies of power (White Supremacy is Terrorism), confront chilling realities (Stop Killing Us!, …And Children Are Still in Cages), uplift the movement (Lifting As We Climb) and imagine new worlds (Care Not Cages, No Borders).