A Community of Non-Citizens: Proving Worth of Citizenship Through Stitching Samplers
(A Work in Progress)
Needlework samplers and their discursive space inform my project US Citizenship Test Sampler, which addresses the socio-historic role of women and the function of non-citizen communities. Sewn samplers were used in Colonial America to teach young children needlework and the alphabet. I am currently hand-sewing the 100 civic study questions and answers of the US Naturalization Test. I will subsequently sell the completed work for $725—the cost of applying for naturalization. This action is motivated by the history of educated adolescent women embroidering decorative pictorial samplers that functioned as signifiers of worth to potential suitors. My citizenship is thus contingent to the sale of the work. Additionally, other non-US citizens can contribute to the pool of samplers, both augmenting the project and building a community. I use samplers to engage with the social and collective nature of needlework’s history, as well as to exhibit the value of non-citizen communities.
All samplers are now on sale for $725 and the full amount goes to the maker of the sold sampler. Unavailable samplers are listed as sold. If you are interested in participating in this project or purchasing a sampler, please contact me.
Photos by: Hyounsang Yoo
Photos by Jayson Cheung, Kanthy Peng, and Bun Stout
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.