Day workers share stories via museum quilt project

Courtesy of Los Altos History Museum
The “Traveling Stitches” quilt exhibition features contributions from 140 dayworkers, who created quilt blocks as part of their English language-learning program.

The Los Altos History Museum and the Day Worker Center of Mountain View have joined forces to present the exhibition “Traveling Stitches: Quilts Made at the Day Worker Center of Mountain View,” scheduled to open Thursday and run through April 29 at the museum’s J. Gilbert Smith House.

Naomi Zamir, a volunteer at the Day Worker Center, served as curator of the display.

Launched in 2010, the quilt project involved 140 men and women at the Day Worker Center creating quilt blocks as part of their English language-learning program. Each block was made by a student to express what was on his or her mind, and the concept was then presented to the group in English.

The nonprofit Day Worker Center has helped dayworkers connect with employers in the region for more than 17 years. It provides a wide array of classes that help increase the skills workers need to find work.

Zamir, who has a background in arts and education, transformed the blocks into seven quilts after witnessing the transformative effect sharing the vignettes had on the participants.

“The format of a quilt was the best choice for representing the images and describing the workers’ experience,” she said. “The squares depict the stories, memories, dreams, ideas and hopes of the dayworkers.”

According to Elisabeth Ward, executive director of the Los Altos History Museum, displaying the “unique and personal” quilts highlights the long history of migratory workers in the area, stretching back to the agricultural roots of the region.

“We are honored and excited by this partnership that brings attention to the many hands that make our community thrive,” she said.

An opening reception for “Traveling Stitches” is slated 2-4 p.m. Sunday at the J. Gilbert Smith House. Additional programming for the exhibition will include a discussion panel on “Immigration in California” set for 7 p.m. March 22 at the Los Altos Youth Center, 1 N. San Antonio Road.

The Los Altos History Museum and adjacent J. Gilbert Smith House are located at 51 S. San Antonio Road. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is free.

For more information, call 948-9427, ext. 14, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

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