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Yellow Springs Library to host 'Changing Hearts and Minds Through Art'

Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi
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Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi has over 40 years of experience as a quilter, curator and author. As a Cincinnati Enquirer 2021 Women of the Year, Founder of the Women of Color Quilters Network, National Endowment For the Arts National Heritage Award winner, and inductee into the Quilters Hall of Fame.

Nacim Sajabi, is a youth service librarian at the Yellow Springs Community Library. She says the library’s programming for tweens and teens offers plenty of activities focusing on art, outdoor activities, and of course, reading. But included in the programming are activities centered around diversity and acceptance. Jerry Kenney talks with Sajabi about the library’s approach to youth programming and an upcoming event with Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi that shares her 40 years of experience as a quilter, curator, and author.

Nacim Sajabi: Yes, we're lucky here, we have an incredible children's librarian, Janet Ogden. And so I fill in, you know that the tween and then teenage years and they have various programs. I try, I've done a lot of racial, social justice work, and I also try to include things that are just fun too, you know, because you can't just always be focusing on that. So, we have art programs, we have anime, outdoor at the pool last summer, I did 'Snow Cones and Books,' and that was really fun. I had a snow cone maker and also gave out books, and that was well-received. So, just trying to promote literacy, trying to help youth be the best that they can be and to support them because it can be a tough time and we're living in a tough age. So, you know, just doing as much as I can to be of support.

Jerry Kenney: And so how have things gone over the last two years through the pandemic? I imagine, correct me if I'm wrong, but it may have been a little easier for libraries through technology to still reach their patrons.

NS: Right? Yeah, I was so impressed with our library system. We were shut down for a while. I think it was maybe six weeks. I remember our last day was, what, March 13th? And so, we were shut down but then we reopened with precaution. We had curbside services and so patrons could still come and get library materials, and we did it in a safe fashion where we would just deliver the materials to the trunk of the patrons. So, we didn't really skip a beat, you know, other than taking some time off. We started doing a lot of online programming. And so [the job] just morphed. And I would do things, like I had a teen cooking challenge, which was really awesome because I love to cook. And so, I did, especially Persian food. So, I did comfort foods and just using local ingredients fresh. And I would go to the market and then buy fresh organic produce and then make some things. So, I had a video and then I would include the recipe and then teams could make whatever I was making as well and also trying to tie it in to books. You know, that's always to literacy, so that was a fun one.

JK: That sounds like a lot of fun. And as far as social issues, events for youth, you've got one coming up featuring Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, correct? And the event is 'Changing Minds and Hearts Through Art.' Let's talk a little bit about that event.

NS: She's an author, historian, curator, lecturer, artist, a quilter in her own right, with quilts that are shown in museums throughout the country. She's a facilitator, educator and mentor, and the founder of the Women of Color Quilters Network. So, this is an incredible human, and what an amazing example she's setting for the youth in this day. You know, to be able to use your skills and your talents and to do something so meaningful and to touch so many lives. She's helped raise up, you know, more quilters because she created this Women of Color Quilters Network and given them venues to show their quilts and their artwork. So, I just see her as an incredible example for the youth and for all of us.

JK: It's such an interesting idea to combine the traditional art form of quilting with the more contemporary idea of dealing with social issues.

NS: Correct. So, she gave us a list of different presentations that she could give, and the one we chose was ‘Changing Hearts and Minds through Art.’ And, in particular, she is going to speak to 'We Are the Story,' a visual response to racism. She'll be presenting February 9, 2022, on Zoom from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

But, very personally, she said, 'When George Floyd, when I saw the footage of George Floyd being killed by the police, being murdered by the police, I cried for several days.' And she said, 'When he called for his mother, it was a call to all mothers' and she, as a mother of African American too, and I know them African American boys in this country. This is so heart-wrenching and I can, I can also relate as a mother of three biracial boys in this country, that it's so hard to even comprehend how this can be and why we are in this place over and over again. And so, after her time of mourning, she used that as a springboard to say, 'No, we have to stand up to racism and we have to shed light on what is going on.'

And so she made a call for quilts. This is amazing. She put out the call and it was in quick time, so the middle of June, she asked for quilts. She received four hundred and twenty-something quilts within six weeks of her call. You can imagine how much time it makes each of these quilts, right? It takes a long time. And this is so hard and personal, too. And she created seven different exhibits throughout Minneapolis in response. And these shows really speak to police brutality and racism and allow the voice of, you know, this is not OK to be heard and visually that the quilts are so stunning and so powerful and so beautiful as well.

JK: Well, this sounds like a great event and incredibly informative. Tell us how library patrons and our listeners can attend this event on Zoom.

NS: If you go to www.greenlibrary.info, that is the Greene County Public Library website, and currently we have Black History Month on the website as featured, and one of the links is for this event. So, if you click on the Black History Month tab, you will see Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi's Zoom presentation as an option. So, you would click on that link and then you would register yourself with your name and your email address, and you would then receive the Zoom link and then you just have to show up. February 9th, which is a Wednesday evening from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and she will be presenting 'We Are the Story,' her curated quilt exhibits in Minneapolis, and then there will be also time for questions and answers.

JK: Nacim Sajabi is Youth Services Librarian at the Yellow Springs Community Library. Nacim, thanks so much for the information and good luck with this event.

NS: Thank you.

Through Zoom, Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi shares her 40 years of experience as a quilter, curator, and author. As Cincinnati Enquirer's 2021 Women of the Year, Founder of the Women of Color Quilters Network, National Endowment For the Arts National Heritage Award winner, and inductee into the Quilters Hall of Fame, Carolyn will present the power of Changing Minds and Hearts Through Art.