Photo credit: Michael Hnatov
Accession Number: C.2017.155.1
Dimensions: 112" X 84"
Dimensions (Metric): 284.48 cm X 213.36 cm
Credit Line: Gift of Shelley Hoberman on behalf of the teachers, staff, parents and students of P.S. 40, Manhattan
Handmade quilt created by the parents, staff, and student body of P.S. 40 school featuring a center image of a dove holding an olive branch. "Reflect | Renew | Rebuild | Unite" are in red text around the dove. Handwritten on the white fabric around the dove is the word "Peace" in various different languages. The rest of the quilt is covered in multiple patches and appliques featuring patriotic symbols and rescue and recovery workers or vehicles. At the bottom are cutout figures of adults and children holding hands.
On September 11, 2001, guidance counselor Shelley Hoberman was at P.S. 40 Augustus Saint Gaudens, a Manhattan public elementary school which was beginning its fifth day of its school year. The campus was located a safe distance away the World Trade Center but Hoberman’s residence in Tribeca was not. As emergency service vehicles sped past P.S. 40, Hoberman brushed aside concern for her home and worked with the school’s faculty to release students to family members. The administration also evacuated the board of election personnel, secured the campus by closing off its main entrance, and established lines of emergency communication.
Hoberman conceived a schoolwide quilt project almost immediately after the attacks occurred. A novice quilter, she had previously done community-building quilt activities at other schools and was inspired to initiate one at P.S. 40 to bring parents, staff, and the student body together to process 9/11. Like most New York City public schools, P.S. 40 is culturally diverse. When the United States government declared a "war on terror," educators and parents of students at the school assumed a moral responsibility to enlighten students about the values of tolerance. The quilt they created together embodies this message.
The quilt’s focal point is a peace dove depicted with an olive branch in its beak, encircled by the words reflect, renew, rebuild, and unite. The centerpiece was created by the German-born grandmother of a student at P.S. 40 named Jasmine Velasquez after her grandmother, Frieda, expressed interest in working on the quilt. Having lived through World War II in Germany, Frieda was familiar with how war and hatred tore humanity apart and wanted to bring messages of peace and tolerance. Jasmine designed some of the words for “peace” that her grandmother embroidered onto the quilt. Ultimately, “peace” was stitched in twenty-four different languages around the quilt’s dove centerpiece. The words, contributed by families and staff at P.S. 40, range from Spanish (“Paz”) to Turkish (“Baris”) to Urdu (“Amman”) to Swahili (“Amani”). The school’s multilingual student body as well as New York City’s internationalism are celebrated by clasped hands represented in diverse skin tones, which are set among the varying words for “peace.”