COVINGTON, KY, USA – Hundreds of hands — those of children, youth, and adults of all ages from more than 130 congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Indiana-Kentucky Synod — collaborated with artist Linda Witte Henke to create a woven tapestry measuring 22 feet wide by 22 feet high. Titled “Bound Together,” the project expanded to also include ambo and communion table paraments, processional banners, and processional rings with trailing streamers.
Since being enthusiastically received at the 2012 Indiana-Kentucky Synod Assembly in Covington, KY, the “Bound Together” items have been in demand for use at conferences and assemblies throughout the
What were the goals for this project?
Artist Linda Witte Henke conceived and designed the project in response to the Synod Worship Committee’s expressed desire to more effectively transform the cavernous convention spaces where the Synod assembles into places of worship. Henke envisioned the project as a collaborative process that would offer tangible experiences of how God is able to weave together diverse gifts, perspectives, and relationships into a common purpose, shared calling, and joint ministry.
Henke described being humbled by images she received of people of all ages laboring together on the project. She was also moved by the d of fabrics included in the weavings: white lace (as from a wedding gown), white satin (as from a baptismal garment), plaid flannel (as from work shirts), juvenile flannel prints (as from children’s pajamas), vintage prints from half a century ago, patterns that reflected the logos of favorite sports teams, ecclesiastical fabrics left over from banners and paraments, and even strips someone had crocheted from yarn.
Describe the team collaboration.
The artist assembled project materials, coordinated dissemination of the materials throughout the Synod, developed a digital presentation to guide volunteers in weaving one-inch strips of fabric through synthetic poultry netting, and coached volunteers in selecting fabrics in the colors of the liturgical seasons and creating the fabric strips. In an effort to ensure that work on the panels progressed on schedule, she maintained connection with deans of the Synod’s ten conferences. After the completed panels were submitted, she facilitated several day-long workshops where volunteers throughout the Synod worked with her to join the panels for the large tapestry together, introduce a metallic cruciform design across the surface of the tapestry, and create the companion pieces.
Henke was delighted to discover the variety of fabrics woven into the panels: white lace from a wedding gown, pastel satin from a prom dress, plaid flannel from work shirts, flannel prints from children’s pajamas, designs reflecting the logos of favorite sports teams, ecclesiastical fabrics left over from church banners and paraments, even strips someone had crocheted from yarn. The diversity of fabric choices resulted in a visual feast that far exceeded the artist’s vision and the Synod’s hopes.
Even more significant than the visual impact of the project was the sense of community engendered through the collaboration. Assembly attendees spoke with wonder about their experiences in weaving the panels with no clear sense of how they would be used, witnessing the vibrant beauty of the finished tapestry, and feeling pride in the role their efforts played in transforming the cavernous convention hall into the Assembly’s place of worship. Many attendees were eager to touch the pieces, to seek out the particular fabric strips their congregations had contributed and/or woven, and to be photographed with the tapestry.