Location: Bowdoin / McKeen Center / Multimedia / Quilt Squares

A Public Art Installation for Bowdoin’s Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good
By Carina Sandoval

Last spring, I was in Professor Mark Wethli’s Public Art class, which was a service learning course. Each student had to design a work of public art for a space on campus. I chose to work on the future Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good, and my design was chosen out of the three proposed.

When we went to visit the McKeen Center for the first time, we spoke with Director Susie Dorn about the center’s purpose and what the space needed visually. The center’s floor pattern — a weave — already symbolized the mission of the McKeen Center to help students, faculty and staff to engage with the community. I decided that my design would also follow this metaphor of interconnection and community involvement.

The idea of a quilt was mentioned for the main wall. A quilt, like the center’s woven floor, is a metaphor for community. Quilt making is traditionally and historically a community activity where women create their own quilt squares and then gather to sow the squares together and talk about community issues. The big colorful squares you now see on the walls of the McKeen Center are representations of quilt squares, and are symbolic of students, faculty and staff engaging with the local community and beyond.

I spent my free time during the summer working on this project. With Professor Wethli’s help, I purchased all the necessary materials, constructed the panels, and stretched the fabrics. I am very proud of having personally hand-made each piece of the project, and the final installation — called Quilt Squares — was completed after six months of preparation and hard work.
The installation makes the space more inviting and exciting. It is ultimately intended to communicate the mission of the center and Joseph McKeen’s longstanding calling to the college and its graduates.