The headline was shocking: American babies are 76 percent more likely to die in their first year than babies in other rich countries. The United States’ infant mortality rate is the highest in the developed world. That statistic shocked me. It’s a form of American exceptionalism we Americans don’t like to think about. As the Washington Post put it, Our Infant Mortality is a National Embarrassment.
I thought about the parents of those little ones, whose crushing loss–losing a child before their first birthday–is immeasurable. The loss is emotional, financial, and devastates marriages and families. The cost of 23,000 infant deaths on our country is unimaginable.
The loss cuts deeper because infant mortality is a problem we understand pretty clearly. It is not Democrat or Republican, Red State or Blue state. It’s not about who is President. The causes of infant mortality and solutions to it are well known. It is a problem other countries have solved. And it is something we have ignored.
As a visual artist, I believe in the power of art to change hearts, minds, behavior, and the world. Think about the famous AIDS Quilt, a community art project commemorating the loss of more than 80,000 lives. By ‘drawing’ a picture of a problem, we can see and feel the enormity of it. Our country, our leaders, and lawmakers need to see exactly what infant mortality looks like in America.
My vision for TheMourningProject.com is that each of the infants lost in a given year will be remembered with a unique, handmade, heartfelt little elegy. I am asking the fiber art community to come together to make 23,000+ pairs of baby booties. This is the number of American infants who die every year.
Whether sewn, knitted, felted, woven, or crocheted, I am asking for donations of handmade baby shoes in the colors of mourning: black, white, and gray. Gathered together, these small elegies will literally paint a compelling picture too big to ignore: a 38′ by 38′ image of a heart with baby feet inside. This image requires 14,000 pairs of white booties alone. I love the way this installation plan is like the problem of infant mortality itself: we all need to contribute to solve this ‘puzzle.’
I am still collecting booties for the installation. Make them black, white, or gray, and send them to me (click here for a checklist). Tell your friends and ask them to help. Make your booties in memory of a lost child.
Here is where we are to date. Our work will be both a visual reminder of a national tragedy, and what we can do about it.
I can’t do this alone. Are you with me?
Click here to learn all the ways you can get involved.
Click here for a link to our fiscal sponsor, Fractured Atlas and make a donation.
Click here for answers to Frequently Asked Questions about TheMourningProject.com.
Click here for the latest news.
Click here to help spread the word online and in person.
Click here for links to free baby bootie patterns.
Click here to learn more about the US infant mortality problem and solutions.
Click here for the Baby Bootie Permissions Form and Instructions.
Click here if you want to host a baby bootie making party!
Click here for a Brief Talking Points handout about infant mortality.
Are you a yarn or fabric store owner? Click here.
Click here if you need support in grieving the loss of a child.
How many baby booties have we raised to date? Click here.
Get your TheMourningProject.com swag!
Click here and join The Mourning Project’s Ravelry group!
Click here to like the Facebook Page.
heart image courtesy of http://worldartsme.com
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22 thoughts on “The Mourning Project Introduction”
Just wondering if got the shipment i sent out last month?
Yes, I did, Michelle! Thanks so much for your contribution. They are wonderful. <3
I just heard about this project. Do we NEED to use a specific pattern and where do we send them?
You can use any pattern you like to make booties. If you are making a panel, you need to contact me to find out how you will arrange your booties to become a part of the overall image. Chris, I will email you to give you the details.
have you reached your goal…or are you still collecting hand made baby booties?
We have reached 5,000 pairs of booties and are still collecting more. Stay tuned for an update on a new installation plan! Thanks Lani!
Are you still looking for booties?
I have knitting groups interested in making some
Yes, Cathie! We are still collecting booties. Watch for an announcement about the new installation plan.
15 pairs in the mail tomorrow Please let me know if they meet your needs If so I can make more
Wow! Thanks so much, Michelle! Please send them US Mail.
123 booties headed your way.
Yay! Thanks Tammy! <3
I have just learned of this project! I’ll do my best to send some booties out by the March date. Please put me on your email list.
Wonderful news! Please help spread the word wherever you can. Thanks, Maddie!
I pledge to make 100 pairs of booties. I have also shared widely on my FB page 🙂
Fantastic, Karen. Sharing is just as important as making booties! Thanks so much for getting behind the project in a big way!
I’m a little late in this project but I will do everything I can to make 10 booties. This is a FANTASTIC idea! I will be honored to participate.
Awesome, Theresa! Thank you, and don’t forget to spread the word!
Mary, I am in for making some booties! Question: Do they have to be black, white AND gray, or could they be solid colors of each?
They can be any combination of black, white, and/or gray. Embellishments can be any color you wish. Thank you for being a part of this project!
Please put me on the email list
Done, Donna! Thanks.