Famed Fabric Artist Amanda Browder Teaches St. Charles, IL Volunteers Art is More Than Meets the Eye
Amanda celebrates the finished project --"OUR CITY SUNSHINE" -- after its installation on the south wall of the St. Charles, IL municipal building on Friday, August 20, 2021
Although Amanda Browder’s powerful community art project, OUR CITY SUNSHINE, is on display for a limited time only, she has left a lasting mark on the town of St. Charles, IL. Now back home in Brooklyn, New York, this unforgettable fabric installation artist has carved an unusual niche for herself, well beyond the United States, designed to uniquely change one person at a time.
“Our City Sunshine” hangs on the south wall of the 2 E. Main Street municipal building through Jazz Weekend Sept. 9-12, 2021. The finished piece covers more than 2,200 square feet of the exterior wall in a colorful intersecting geometric design she submitted for approval prior to arriving in mid-August.
“This is a way to reinvent the environment for a short period of time,” Amanda says. “Driving by each day, most people wouldn’t notice this dead, blank wall. But now, when it comes down, residents may think – we could use a mural here. The project demonstrates how the creative arts can revitalize an area either temporarily or full time.”
Here's how the south wall appeared of the St. Charles, IL municipal building prior to Amanda's fabric art installation.
During her two-week stay in St. Charles, Amanda oversaw its completion by volunteers who sorted fabric, pinned and sewed at the nearby Baker United Methodist church using donated fabric.
“Cotton fabric is best and color is key to the design,” she says. Surprisingly, as she travels the world doing these projects, she always seems to acquire enough fabric. And in the case of the St. Charles project, even has left-overs.
Amanda catches a short breather during work-in-progress at the Baker United Methodist Church surrounded by bolts of fabric, sewing machines, and busy volunteers.
Amanda especially loves incorporating fabric that has special meaning to those who donated.
“When they come by to see the finished piece, it’s fun for me to watch how they point out their donation or the area they helped sew, and tell their children the story behind it,” she adds.
The project brings strangers together with a joint vision that seams together much more than an art project but forges new friendships and a broader understanding of how art can truly unite a community. And just as important, anyone can participate. Artistic ability or lack of it has nothing to do with this project which instead emphasizes community involvement and enjoying the process.
Starting to make progress, and using vibrant-colored fabric is key.
For Amanda Browder, art is not about the “I” or the ego attached to a creative effort. Instead, she fosters a much larger vision for herself and those she leads.
“This project is a collective effort,” Amanda explains. “There is no “I” here, but “WE” – it’s all about the volunteers and me building it together as a collective. I’m simply the facilitator engaging the excitement of others and encouraging them that they can do it right down to showing them how to sew. Or, they can just tell me what they are able to do, and we work with that. It’s all about inclusivity – working together -- one person at a time.”
Next Spring 2022, look for Amanda in White Plains, NY, covering her tallest building yet – a 9-story mini-skyscraper. Yard-by-yard and stitch-by-stitch, Amanda’s enthusiasm, talent, and vision will no doubt continue propelling her full “seam” ahead!
Follow her at: www.amandabrowder.com; or Instagram browdertown
This 2006 project, "RAPUNZEL", draped from her third-story apartment window in Chicago, IL when she resided there, helped launch her large-scale, fabric installation focus.