Common Threads Project: Exhibit extended to September 2023

“Please tell our story. We want the world to know.”

Story cloth circle participant

The Illumination Fund is proud to have hosted Stitch By Stitch: The Fabric of Healing, the first-ever New York City exhibition by Common Threads Project. Common Threads Project is one of the Fund’s Arts & Mental Health grantees. The grant from the Illumination Fund is enabling Common Threads Project to develop new programs in New York City in partnership with Sanctuary for Families and the Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture.

Founded in Geneva, Switzerland, and now based in New York City, Common Threads Project (CTP) helps women heal from the ensuring psychological effects of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the context of war and displacement through their arts-based methodology. The program takes its inspiration from an ancient arts practice found in many diverse contexts of women coming together to sew their unspeakable stories into images in cloth. Through this process, participants find safety, mutual support, community, and a vital means of self-expression.

Stitch by Stitch: The Fabric of Healing brings together story cloths from Ecuador, Nepal, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bosnia, and the United States. They have been made as part of a recovery program designed for survivors of sexual violence, trauma, and displacement and by trained clinicians who facilitate the program. The exhibit opened on March 13, 2023 and is on view at the Illumination Fund’s office until September 2023.

The exhibit catalog, including photos, stories, and videos, will continue to be available online.



Common Threads Project, in collaboration with local partners, has developed a transformative trauma intervention inspired by the ancient cultural practice of sewing story cloths. The textiles are storytellers; they are messengers. They convey unspeakable suffering with power and immediacy. While they do not spare us the depth of their pain, they also bring us into the fullness of the lives of their makers.

This exhibit invites us to bear witness to be a part of the healing process of the survivors by hearing their stories, acknowledging their pain, and affirming their hopes. We invite you to take a quiet moment to reflect as you embark on this journey and to allow the story cloths to influence you in their own way.

Special guided tours can be accommodated by advance registration.

Registration: Fabric of Healing Exhibit Tour

The organization of the digital catalog reflects the groupings in the exhibit. Story cloths were grouped in four sections:

Hidden Memories

Surviving Atrocities

Healing Wounds

Building Solidarity

The five prompts used in CTP circles were spread throughout the exhibit, as they are here as well. Most cloths have titles, but artists’ names are omitted.

“This is a moment I will never forget.”

“This is what I cannot say.”

“This is what I need you to know.”

“This is what the cloth is trying to say.”

“This is what has helped me to survive.”

For some story cloths, the exhibition’s digital catalog includes accompanying videos and audio recordings. Click on the image of story cloths with a 🔊 or 🎥 to hear from facilitators, participants, and more.


Visit the Common Threads Project