Local artist weaves rainbows for libraries

Artist, teacher and village resident Melissa Sarris (l) and Chatham Children’s Librarian Rebecca Klein at the Chatham Public Library in Woodbridge Avenue in the village. Photo by David Lee

CHATHAM – Chatham artist and teacher Melissa Sarris’s work incorporates the joining and embellishment of fabric such that she has labeled her endeavor Stitching Exchange. She has brought the medium of needle and thread to the message of bringing people together so they see their common needs, but since the pandemic shutdown her thread has become entire strips of cloth.

Ms. Sarris received a grant to continue the Stitching Exchange sewing circle at the Pine Hills Library from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by The Arts Center of the Capital Region.

“Then the pandemic started,” said Ms. Sarris, “I had to completely rethink how I could do anything even remotely related to the original proposal.”

She continued, “I reached out to Pine Hills Library in Albany where the group had been meeting to see if they might like me to weave a rainbow there and the response was: yes please, and can you also do five other locations?”

In addition to Pine Hills, she created rainbows for The Deleware Public Library, the Howe Public Library, the Bach Public Library, the Arbor Hill Public Library and the Washington Public Library.

“And of course Chatham Public Library,” she said, “not part of the grant (or even the same county), but included because I wanted to offer this for my own community.”

Chatham Children’s Librarian Rebecca Klein provided the invaluable volunteer assistance.

In addition to the fabric rainbows, she made made a banner for each location with the word hope, translated into the languages spoken by local community members.

The installation in Chatham will be up until at least August 15. The fabric is donated and will be recycled at the project’s conclusion.

County library buildings are currently closed to the public but are offering curbside pick up. The Chatham Public Library offers curbside delivery Monday and Wednesday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Canaan Library is offering curbside Wednesdays and Friday 1 to 4 p.m. To request items: browse the online catalog to place items on hold and you will be notified when the item(s) are ready for pickup; contact the library to schedule a pick up day. Return books, DVDs, CDs and magazines to the drop box outside of the library. Call to schedule return for Chromebooks, auto diagnostic tool, and ukuleles.

Links to time lapse videos of Ms. Sarris’s installing the projects can we found at:

Chatham:

Pine Hills:

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