Tablecloth Projects


The Tablecloth Project started as a Master’s Thesis Dissertation aimed at recontextualizing a very busy public space in a commercial center of a small community. Initially, members of the neighborhood were invited to participate in meal making and meal sharing in a parking lot. During the gathering for four hours every Sunday afternoon, random neighbors and passers by stopped in a brave act of curiosity and relationship building. That parking lot, usually belonging to automobiles and traffic, became a wall-less dining room which brought the domestic act of cooking and meal sharing to a large outdoor space. During the gathering, community members shared by cooking pasta, distributing food, and telling their personal stories. This first phase of the work was followed by a more object-creating phase in which the tablecloth became the center of activity.


The artist was born in Italy, and in the European tradition, tablecloths are icons of domesticity and symbols of time spent at the table with friends and family. This tablecloth was built from fragments of the artist’s mother’s old kitchen towels on which participants shaped their own personal patterns by sewing plastic pearls on them. The artist became the unifier in the sense that she joined the fragments together and filled in the empty space between the patterns with additional smaller yellow pearls. The initial idea of food as a vehicle in a public parking lot was thus transformed into an intimate community bringing people together gathered around the table, except that the table and tablecloth became more of a story center rather than an eating center.


The final phase of this project is again transformative in that the tablecloth will become a vehicle of funding which will be used to help young community members to pay for their education. Ironically, while the first phase of the project used the larger community to create a smaller, more intimate community, in this phase, this smaller community will reach out to the next generation to help them attain a bright future by means of a college degree. The circle is now complete.