Sarah Tang

Memory Quilt for Extinct Animals
fused recycled plastic

Quilting has been long steeped in the human tradition. It is a craft that has appears across time and cultures, and historically has served as a way to bring people together and to celebrate important life events. They are often created to mark occasions such as graduation, marriage, the birth of a child, or passing of life. Quilts connect people. The act of quilting itself has often been a communal activity—quilting bees, for example, were historically important social events that involved all the women of a community. Quilts are often handed down in families, linking generation to generation. Quilts have also been used to connect with the people who have left us. They can help heal the pain of absence—whether through a signature quilt gifted as a reminder of home for a child leaving the nest, or a memory quilt created to grieve and commemorate someone who has passed.

With these traditions in mind, I made Memory Quilt for Extinct Animals in order to commemorate the thousands of animal species that have been lost over the course of the past 500 years. The piece is comprised of 18 panels: 9 of these list the names and extinction dates of a small sampling of animal species that have disappeared in recent times, as well as endangered species that may soon join their ranks; the other 9 panels pictorially depict an even smaller sampling of these species—token animals that allow us to visualize and recognize some of the animals we have lost. The quilt itself is created from fused plastic, symbolizing humanity’s involvement in these losses.  

There is an empty space and a threaded needle left at the bottom of the quilt, where future generations of humans may add onto it as animal species continue to go extinct.