Building H*O*P*E Square by Square: COVID-19 US Honor Quilt Arrives in Alexandria

By Kelly MacConomy

H*O*P*E has come to Alexandria!

The four eight-foot high letters spelling out HOPE are part of the Covid-19 US Honor Quilt Foundation project sponsored by Loudoun Arts and Artistic Fuel. Each letter is being covered by 10 1/2” x 10 1/2” individually crafted homages to those who have lost their lives to the coronavirus and to honor the frontline workers who have made life tolerable these horrific past eight months.

H*O*P*E comes to Alexandria with the Covid-19 US Honor Quilt at Del Ray Artisans. Photo Kurt Peterson

Founder Diane Canney, who owns Sunset Hills Vineyard in Purcellville and 50 West Vineyards with her husband Mike Canney, was inspired by Cleve Jones’s AIDS Quilt Names Project, American commemorative quilting traditions, and her very own mother, Phyllis Liedtke, who implored Diane to put her considerable talents and boundless energy toward making a dent in the despair of people around the world. Diane made the Covid quilt project a 95th birthday gift to her mother in August – and there’s been no stopping her since!

The HOPE letters were first unveiled during the Loudoun Arts Film Festival last month held at 50 West in Middleburg. They were designed and constructed by Ron LeBaron, a retired commercial contractor working on his first public arts project. Diane, when not managing two wineries and five vineyards, hosting fundraisers for charities, and running a nonprofit organization or two, is a talented artist and jewelry designer. She has been hosting paint-a-panel events at the wineries for artists ages 2 – 95. This month she is offering sip and paint events for 21-and-over quilt artists.

One artist honored Doctor Fauci painting a realistic portrait of the face of the medical frontline. Photo Kelly MacConomy

Diane hopes to make hundreds more panels that will be displayed on the HOPE letters and then sewn into an actual quilt that will eventually be part of the National COVID-19 Memorial Quilt in conjunction with Congress, the Smithsonian, and the Library of Congress.

“The COVID 19 US Honor Quilt is honored to bring HOPE back to Alexandria and the beautiful Del Ray neighborhood as part of Art on the Avenue. We are asking the Alexandria community to cover the letters with their own 10.5 inch fabric panels. These squares will be made into 50 by 50 inch quilts. Many thanks to the Del Ray Artisans Gallery for offering us the opportunity to spread HOPE,” said Diane.

The H*O*P*E letters were unveiled at 50 West Vineyards during the Loudoun Arts Film Festival. Photo Kelly MacConomy

Del Ray Artisans on Mount Vernon Avenue invited the Covid-19 US Honor Quilt to Del Ray as part of the 25th annual Art on the Avenue celebration. While one of the most popular and highly-attended art festival events in the DMV went to a virtual format this anniversary year, Del Ray Artisans sought to engage the community with an opportunity to help build on the HOPE the City and the world has sustained in a time of great crisis.

The Del Ray Artisans Gallery on Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria. Photo Del Ray Artisans

The Del Ray Artisans Gallery is planning outdoor paint-a-panel events to be scheduled soon. Check the website and social media for more information. The gallery has brochures and fabric squares available and free to the public. “Quilters“ may also use their own fabric to design their squares. Painting, gluing, mixed-media, even Sharpie artwork can be submitted. Sewing skills aren’t necessary to participate.

One artist dedicated a quilt square to all those missing grandparents separated by quarantine. Photo Kelly MacConomy

Squares may be left at the Del Ray Artisans Gallery at 2401 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria. They may also be uploaded onto the Covid-19 US Honor Quilt gallery. There is a QR code on the banner next to the HOPE letters for uploading quilt squares, or you can upload through the quilt website.

Even the littlest artists enjoy making an impactful contribution to the Covid quilt. Photo Kelly MacConomy

The HOPE letters and DRA were participants this month in Cleve Jones’s COVID-19 National Week of Mourning, holding vigils and peaceful protests from October 4-11. The HOPE letters were at Freedom Plaza in DC October 4 and on the National Mall in view of the Washington Monument October 11. A second set of HOPE letters will return to Washington, DC for display at the Jefferson Memorial October 24.

This message of HOPE invites each and every person who has been touched by the coronavirus to make a panel in the name of someone they love, have lost, or choose to honor: mothers and fathers, friends and family, doctors and nurses, grocery clerks and restaurant workers, teachers and police officers. Together we will heal, building a new normal in a brave new world, united by HOPE.

For more information about the Covid-19 US Honor Quilt go to www.covid-19ushonorquilt.org

For information about Del Ray Artisans go to www.delrayartisans.org

RELATED: Painting It Forward: The Covid-19 US Honor Quilt Grows in Virginia

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