Nancy is a special needs lady who is 64 now and she and Jean are very special friends of mine who attracted my attention when my friend Barbara Williamson and I had our tiny nonprofit to assist physically challenged fiber artists. Although Jean is not physically/developmentally or emotionally challenged, I was touched by how she was taking Nancy’s scribblings and turning them into fiber arts pieces which were exhibited at various museums and sold to raise money to contribute to Nancy’s needs.
Jean has always been an advocate/activist for the children and adults with special needs, and our friendship grew out of that shared advocacy/activism. The bigger story of Jean and her sister-in-law, Nancy, is in our book, Artful Alchemy: Physically Challenged Artists Creating, available from Amazon.com.
The 70273 Project has been her latest project to help bring awareness of the ways special needs people have been viewed over time.
“Between January 1940 and August 1941 under a program called Aktion T4, Nazis murdered 70,273 physically and mentally disabled people – men, women, teens, boys, and girls. Though they never even laid eyes on the disabled person they were evaluating, the Nazi doctors read the medical files and, if from the words on the page, the person was deemed “unfit” or an “economic burden on society”, the doctor placed a red X at the bottom of the form. Three doctors were to read each medical file, and when two of them made a red X on the page, the disabled person’s fate was sealed.
“I will commemorate these 70,273 voiceless, powerless people who were so callously and casually murdered by gathering 70,273 blocks of white fabric (representing the paper the doctors read), each bearing two red X’s (representing one person), and I will stitch them together into quilts.
“I can’t change history – can’t unring that bell – but I can commemorate the lives of these 70,273 disabled people in this small way . . . if you’ll help. (I’ve done the math, and I just can’t do it alone.) This site, (Http://www.the70273project.org ) will take you to more information on how to get involved if that is in your heart.”
Thank you one and all most kindly.