Beaded Square Project


The deadline for the Beaded Square Project was March 19th, 2021.


The Beaded Square Project is a collaborative community project where each participant created a 6 inch by 6 inch square of beadwork. These individual squares will come together to build a bead-based ‘quilt’. The project highlights the shared experiences of isolation, quarantine, and the many societal changes that occurred during 2020. It will visualize the individual and communal experience of artists around the globe during this distinct moment in history.


The idea originated from artist Nancy Josephson and a group of her alumnae students and grew out of a desire to commune on a joint project while safely sheltering. The task was simple: take a 6 inch flat, square, strong substrate and build a beaded surface using the very broad notions of pattern, texture, and primarily jewel tones as color for a cohesive look when the pieces finally came together. Once the project became public knowledge, the requests to participate grew exponentially; the project hit a distinct chord in this creative community. Realizing the importance of the project as well as the overwhelming response, Nancy reached out to the Museum of Beadwork with hopes that this new institution could lead outreach as well as define and enact specific goals. The seamless alignment between the seed of the idea and the understanding of the importance of the project was welcomed and, at the end of the first month of lockdown the Museum of Beadwork took over the project, basing it in Portland, Maine, but opening it up for anyone worldwide to participate.


The deadline for submissions was March 19th, 2021, marking 1 year in lockdown. During this time we received a total of 541 individual squares from 18 countries, each will be a part of the permanent installation. The squares represent a vast range of technique, ability, subject matter, background story, and emotional response. The diversity of our participants encompasses various ethnicities and religions, all genders, and a wide range of ages with our youngest recorded artist being 11 and our oldest being 95. There was also an online community of over 1,200 people communicating and supporting each other, not just in reference to their artwork, but also in making it through lockdown in the various forms that took in different places throughout the globe. 


So, what’s next for the project?


The squares are being housed at the Museum where we are beginning the process of accessioning, photography, curation, and final construction of the exhibit that will be on view once we are open to the public in 2022. 


In July 2021, we received a grant for $10k to go towards materials for building the exhibit.


While these grant funds will certainly help get the exhibit started, our goal is to raise an additional $40k to bring the Beaded Square Project to life: we need funds for outfitting and installing an electrical system, signage, an interactive media component, and covering costs of labor.


Will you help us reach our goal? Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Museum of Beadwork to help us bring the Beaded Square Project to life.


Beaded Square Project Database 

All 541 squares pictured below will be included in the final installation at the Museum of Beadwork once we are open. Please peruse the squares at your leisure and click on a square for its number, artist’s name, title, and short description.
To see a complete list of participants names, click here.