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What Does It Mean To Be An American?

October 1-October 30

Quilt installation documenting the responses by over 500 Oregonians to the question “What does it mean to be an American?”.

What does it mean to be American? A question with many answers and one that the collaborative quilt project “What Does it Mean to Be an American?” led by Alicia Decker and Ellen Knutson begins to answer. The United States is such a diverse nation, how do we understand what it means to be American, and what do we hold valuable? How do those notions differ depending on our lived experiences and in the context of the current political climate? Quilting is an American tradition that has the power to narrate and to create community through the nature of its practice. This project aims to build community around recognizing and celebrating our differences, while perhaps finding common ground in the process.

The quilt installation at Black Fish Gallery showcases the words that over 450 people used to describe their thoughts on what it means to be American, drawn from community conversations held across Oregon in partnership with the Oregon Humanities Conversation Project.

The second installation for this project is located at Kat + Maouche at 33 NW 4th Ave. Portland, OR 97209. This installation features quilted tapestries displaying the most frequent responses from the Oregon Humanities Conversation Project to the question ‘What does it mean to be an American?”, as well as an ongoing community quilt featuring the embroidered answers to this question from over 40 participants across the country. This installation also features an interactive poster wall where visitors can add their own answer to this question.


October 1, 2020 @ 9:00 am
October 30, 2020 @ 5:00 pm
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Organized By

Alicia Decker
Organizer Website


Blackfish Gallery
420 NW 9th Ave,
Portland, OR 97209 US