Installation at The Welcome Project

Prayer Flags for Cincinnati Acrylic paint on found fabrics 2017

The Welcome Project is a social enterprise that combines a cafe with a boutique to train recent refugees and immigrants in restaurant and store management while bringing new life to the business district of Camp Washington, Cincinnati. Welcome is an idea that spawned from a partnership between Cal Cullen and Sheryl Rajbhandari to empower marginalized and at risk refugees and immigrants by providing affordable housing, jobs, education and skills training, so that they will one day take these opportunities and turn them into a lasting, better way of life. There are approximately 20 women working weekly with the existing artesian programs offered by Wave Pool and Heartfelt Tidbits. Women from The Welcome Project and children from Heartfelt Tidbits were integral to the creation of the Prayer Flags for Cincinnati project, donating fabrics, assisting with sewing and contributing their own perspectives by creating their own flags on display above.

Prayer Flags for Cincinnati was a collaborative project featuring the perspectives and input of local Cincinnati residents which inspired both the themes and images of the flags created as well as their locations of installation. The homemade flags are modeled after Tibetan prayer flags, traditionally hung around homes, villages, and sacred sites and are believed to ward off evil spirits and bring luck to those touched by the winds that pass through the flags. Instead of using the traditional dyed cottons and mass woodblock printing, the flags are made out of the scraps of everyday life, including clothing, doilies, handkerchiefs, napkins, tablecloths, pillowcases and curtains. Images of Cincinnati’s triumphs, the dreams of its residents and most importantly, the toughest of its struggles are hand-painted onto each fabric flag. These experiences are literalized through hand-painted imagery, emerging from the cloth as either prideful adornment or through the form of a stain on the surface of the fabric.