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My tribe

The Crystal Quilt "I'm not aging, I'm ripening"

manuelita otero

My daughter and I recently visited Denmark and one of our favorite memories is riding around the city on bicycles. It was something different for us since it had been years since we had ridden a bike. We loved the opportunity to be outside, see the people, enjoy the weather, and at the same time do some exercise. Not only were the sites amazing, but the time we spent with Margarita, a family member, was even more precious. She guided us all over the city without complaints or needing to rest. I loved her attitude, patience, and the wisdom she shared with us. Did I mention that Margarita is over 70? But that didn’t slow her down one bit, so when I saw at the Tate Modern Museum in London an artwork called The Crystal Quilt I immediately thought about her.   

On Mother’s Day May 10 in 1987, 430 women over the age of 60 gathered to be part of The Crystal Quilt, the culmination of the Whisper Minnesota Project, a three year public artwork that wanted to empower older women. The artist, Suzanne Lacy, together with the collaboration of Phyllis Jane Rose, Miriam Schapiro, Nancy Dennis, and Susan Stone interviewed hundreds of women. The artist wanted to impact the community in a positive way by addressing the invisibility of older women.

During the performance of The Crystal Quilt, the women wore all black sat on specially arranged seats and engaged in conversations about their future in society while they were doing simple actions with their hands. Every 15 minutes they would hear a sound that would tell them to move the position of their hands so it would look as stitches on a quilt.

As I read about this artwork, heard the conversations recorded, saw the photos, and watched the video I loved the reminder of the importance of older women in our lives- their wisdom, knowledge, and all they contribute to society. I specially liked that the artwork was not a static piece, but a project that lasted three years and involved hundreds of women. It went out of the museum walls into people’s lives and is still doing that today. It made me think, it made me want to share it and it made me want to make a difference starting with the older women who are close to me.

You are as old as you feel. Attitude, kindness, and character are more important than a number, so we need to start seeing the women who have lived more years than us as women of great value who are offering and can offer to society more than we realize.

Manuelita@manuelitaotero