As part of Touchstone Theatre’s Festival Unbound 2021, I was invited to be an artist-in-residence for their five-day festival. Over the course of that time, I worked withm 400 community members and theatre visitors to create the Gratitude Quilt. The project was part of myI Love You Institute, a collaborative, artist-led, site-specific art project rooted in participatory art and radical kindness. The Community Gratitude Quilt focuses on human connection through conversation, art making, social justice, relational listening, and radical kindness. With the intent to create a connective thread through the activities during the Festival.

As part of the Festival I facilitated a broader discussion about how we develop creativity in a multidisciplinary way using practices developed in my public-art project I Love You Institute. The I Love You Institute combines art making, social justice, radical kindness, and relational listening to normalize saying “I Love You” as an alternative to division and conflict. The combination processes of I/Thou active listening, co-creation with audiences, and dialogical practice integrates social aspects of an art gallery, workshop, public art, and theater. Creative skills such as divergent thinking, resilience, and experimentation have become essential to personal and professional development. My aim was to help Festival Unbound to cross pollinate throughout the festival to showcase and share creative skills within community theater with audiences. A common element of my praxis is the ability for viewers to respond to their experience immediately and creatively.

As we grew and developed the journey of a directed, multidisciplinary engagement, my work with Festival Unbound was embodied in a quilt-like, intricate, beautiful, expression of connection and community. The Community Gratitude Quilt was then presented at the Closing Ceremony and paraded and draped from a symbolic bridge. More than 400 people participated over five days.

Concurrently, I worked with MFA students at Morivian Universtiy, undergraduate students at morvian adn the local amazing arts high school.