Bonnie Meltzer

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Tue, 01/04/2022 - 11:30am to 12:00pm
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Bonnie Meltzer and Mending the Social Fabric

KBOO Art Focus web blurb Bonnie Meltzer Jan 4, 2022


On Tuesday January 4, 2022, Joseph Gallivan interviews multimedia artist Bonnie Meltzer, whose exhibition Mending the Social Fabric is on at the Oregon Jewish Museum through January 30, 2022. Meltzer has hung up a 1943 cargo parachute decorated with hankies bearing embroidered slogans and she has cut it, inviting the public to patch the holes. There are also prayer flags made of multiple international swatches of fabric and a pin cushion map of the USA. Meltzer talks about social practice art, activism, fabric art and the Donald Trump era.  

“This interactive fabric installation is NOT one giant Kvetch about the unraveling of the social fabric, instead, it embraces action, hope, and healing,” said Bonnie Meltzer.

This show was recorded in person, with masks, at OJM on a Zoom H2N recorder on Dec 29, 2021 and was edited by KBOO volunteer Ray Bodwell.



October 7, 2021 – January 30, 2022

OJMCHEs exhibition Mending the Social Fabric by textile artist Bonnie Meltzer has at its core a parachute with a 314-foot circumference that is encircled by 75 handkerchiefs embroidered with text that amplifies the mending motif. Mounted behind the parachute are textiles from across the globe. The parachute, a symbol of safety, has rips and tears and over the course of the exhibition interactive community building happens as visitors sit and mend the damage.

“This interactive fabric installation is NOT one giant Kvetch about the unraveling of the social fabric, instead, it embraces action, hope, and healing,” said Meltzer. “People are the warp of the social fabric; Our actions are the weft threads that turn it into cloth.”

Mending the Social Fabric, made specifically for OJMCHE, is guided by the Jewish principle “Tikkun Olam,” which means “repair the world”. Originally to open in October 2020, the emphasis was to have been on citizen action, voting, and immigration. As the terrible events of 2020 unfolded and the exhibit date was moved to 2021, the exhibition’s vision was refocused and expanded. Additional themes of Covid 19, social justice, and safety nets were woven into the installation.

Throughout the course of the exhibition, the museum will be sharing dates and times when visitors can join the artist in mending bees.

“The very act of gathering together as a community to sew on a giant parachute will help mend the isolation and pain so many have felt in the last year,” said Meltzer.

This project has been partially funded by an artist project grant from RACC as well as private donors.

Bonnie Meltzer’s art-making, activism, community building, and gardening are linked together like crochet; one thread looping with itself creating an interlocking fabric. Throughout her career, she has used fiber art techniques (mostly crocheted wire) and found objects to make social commentary. Environmental topics, especially coal, air quality, and land use dominated her work in the last decade. Since the 2016 election, she has added social justice to the mix. Her work has been exhibited throughout the Northwest and beyond and is in private and public collections, most notably The National Science Foundation, University of Washington, and the City of Portland. The book The Fine Art of Crochet has Meltzer’s piece Global Warming on the front cover, and the book Artistry in Fiber: Sculpture has Connected on the back cover. OPB produced a video about Meltzer and her “No Coal” artwork for their 2013 “Voices of Coal” series and she was featured in an early episode of Oregon Art Beat. She has an MFA from the University of Washington.


Join artist Bonnie Meltzer in the exhibition on the following dates:


  • Wednesday, December 29
  • Thursday, December 30

To schedule a mending bee for up to five people, contact Bonnie at

Click here to view Flickr album of Mending the Social Fabric



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Joseph Gallivan has been a reporter since 1990. He has covered music for the London Independent, Technology for the New York Post, and arts and culture for the Portland Tribune, where he is currently a Feature Writer. He is the author of two novels, "Oi, Ref!" and "England All Over" which are available on


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