Artists’ Reflections

Many of the artists said they felt very moved by participating in the Drones Quilt Project.  We asked them to share their thoughts…


For me, to work on this quilt square and think about one twelve-year-old boy’s life being suddenly taken from him and from his family and from this world, by a machine up in the sky, personalized the impact of the drones.   It could have been my son.   Joseph Stalin said, “One death is a tragedy, and a million is a statistic.”   To maintain our humanity, we need to remember that each victim of war was a real person, a beating heart, someone who laughed and loved and had dreams.  Working on this piece of fabric was a meditation in our shared humanity.  –Laurie Childers, Corvallis, Oregon

Honoring the life of Numair by thoughtfully creating and making this quilt piece is my way of hoping that something good grows, as depicted with the vine, from his death…and the loss of so many other civilians.  —Eileen K., Newton, Massachusetts


While I was thinking about the design for my quilt block, and sewing it, I thought about the 16 year old boy, Zabihullah, who lost his life in a drone attack. I wondered about his life.  What dreams did he have?  Was he a scholar?  Did he help support his family?  What teenage things did he do for fun?  I wondered how I would have felt, if out of the sky, which brings the life-giving rain and sun, instead came an instrument of death.  The children are the innocent victims.  It is too easy for us to put the war out of our minds.  The quilt will help us us to remember, to memorialize the victims, and then to rededicate ourselves to working for peace for all of the families over all of the world.  –Jeanne Raymond, Corvallis, Oregon

LornaI made this quilt block 6 months after visiting Pakistan to participate in a peace march protesting US drone strikes in their tribal areas along the Afghanistan frontier. This block symbolizes many things that I learned on that visit and how they relate to both this one boy and to the bigger international issue of drone strikes.
First, it commemorates the life of a four year old boy whose name we don’t even know. We only know him as the four year old son of his father. How sad that we can’t even name the dead.
Second, it sheds some essential light on the CIA covert drone war in Pakistan, if only by reporting the number of attacks.
Last and most personally, this quilt block declares my sorrow for the loss of this boy: my condolences to his mother, his family, his country, our world. When will we recognize that drone strikes are creating more militants than they are destroying? When will we accept that drones do not lead to the peaceful future that we wish for all citizens of the world? When will we invest more in peace (State Department) than in war (Defense Department)?  –Lorna VanderZanden, Arlington, VA

I embroidered the words Salaam, Shalom, PeaceDeEtte Waleed and encircled them with the name of the person who was killed and my name. I envision the person and myself being surrounded with peace. I put lots of good energy and prayers into the square. May his family be nourished by the good energy and find ways to work with people around the world to bring peace in the midst of tragedy. I made the square visualizing refugees and other people I have known who have survived the horrors of wars. I will hold in my heart the person who was killed by a drone as I continue to work for peace.  –DeEtte Waleed

Peace, love and revolution!  We all need to focus on love and healing.  We miss you, young one.  –Molly Keahilani

My assignment was to make a quilt block for “Asadullah, age 9.”  It is hard to think about aBecky Leuning young life (or any life) coming to an end so early in life, period. But to think about this young life being ended so abruptly by the seemingly random act of violence that is a drone strike—an unthinkable tragedy, and one for which my own country can claim responsibility. Unthinkable and absolutely unjustifiable. Nine years old..a fourth grader…still very much a child but less a baby. The physical and mental development that takes place in a child between ages 8 and 9 can be striking. I assume he was loved, but I don’t know if one or both of Asadullah’s parents or other family members were also victims in the drone strike or if they lived to mourn their child. These were among the questions I pondered as I put together this quilt block. But mostly I just tried to make something bright and beautiful to represent the beautiful, precious child that Asadullah was for those nine years he was alive on this earth.  —Becky Luening, Portland, Oregon

June KenagyAs I was creating this quilt square for Inayatur Rehman, who was only 16 when he was killed by a US drone, I pray for wisdom for US leaders to see that this is not the way to make peace.  Irresponsible dehumanized violence will only create more irresponsible dehumanized violence.  All violent parties to this conflict must see the humanity of the other, must learn to know the other, to care about the other, and to see (as the Quakers put it) “that of God in all people”.  I also wondered what Inayatur did as a young teen. Did he play a traditional Pakistani instrument like the clay borrindo or the stringed yaktaro? Was he a soccer player? Was his family killed at the same time by the same drone, or are they weeping and grieving over the loss of a son so young?  Drones are a horror.
The crescent and star are drawn out of their usual alignment to symbolize the disruption of Pakistani lives.  —June Kenagy, Albany, Oregon

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