Believing the artist is a moral witness, a truth teller, Trisha Terwilliger feels compelled to look into the shadows as well as the light. Influenced by her experiences living in Palestine under brutal Israeli military occupation, her current project, The Threads that Bind Us, interweaves quilt art with memoir, exploring the quilt as a narrative for social justice. Her work examines the intersections of identity and belonging; indigenous culture and the spirit of place; memory and storytelling; art and activism. It is poly-sensuous, inviting the viewer to touch, to smell, to participate—turning the pages of a pillow book stuffed with wild za’atar evokes the rocky, terraced hillsides of Palestine, a sharp piece of razor wire—hostile fences and boundaries.
An invitation to create quilt art using haiku for an exhibition at the North American Haiku Conference in Toronto, Canada, led to her first experiments incorporating text and photographs into her quilt work.
Terwilliger holds an MA in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont. As an undergraduate, she studied creative writing, sculpture, and textile design at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where she also taught traditional quiltmaking through continuing education and in her studio. Recently returned to the States, Terwilliger resides in Maine.