"Journeys" is a monumental art quilt by Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, a 2004 MacArthur Fellow. The panels were created over a thirty-five year period and tell the history the artist's Columbus, OH neighborhood, one of the first federally funded urban housing projects. The quilts are embellished with paint, buttons, music boxes, and stuffed sock "faces." When this project was brought to the attention of ICA conservators many handsewn seams were showing signs of stress from the weight of vertical hanging.
To forestall future damage to the delicate construction, a hanging system was designed to provide overall support of the unevenly pieced panels and their attached objects. Lengths of polyethylene mesh were joined with heavy-duty nylon thread and cut to the shape of each quilt. Raw mesh edges were bound with cotton twill tape and steel grommets placed along the upper edge for use in installation. Bands of hook and loop Velcro were hand stitched to the mesh and the quilts’ reverse at corresponding points, after identifying stress and weight-bearing areas. An additional network of cotton tape was hand sewn to the quilts' reverse and edges and tied to the meshwork. After attachment to the mesh underlay, mechanical lifts were used to raise the quilts to a vertical position on the curved wall. The new inconspicuous support system allows "Journeys" to appear free-hanging while off-setting weight-related tensions.