Dégagé Ministries moves forward with Pillowcase Project


An art exhibit originally planned for ArtPrize is moving ahead despite the competition’s cancellation.

Grand Rapids-based Dégagé Ministries said Monday that it has collected nearly 3,000 pillowcases for the Pillowcase Project, an art exhibition honoring the more than 4,700 women who have accessed the Dégagé Ministries Open Door Women’s Center since 2003.

The exhibit is geared toward raising awareness of the problem of homelessness.

“Dégagé expects a surge in need for emergency shelter and other services for West Michigan women due to factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic and hopes the exhibition will bring light to issues surrounding homelessness,” the nonprofit said.

The exhibit was originally planned as an ArtPrize entry but now will be on display unaffiliated with ArtPrize on the Gillett Bridge in Ah-Nab-Awen Park and along the fencing to the west of DeVos Place starting 5 p.m. Thursday through Oct. 1. The event opening will feature two Dégagé patrons and Heartside artists with vocal and saxophone performances. Visitors are asked to socially distance and wear face masks.

Dégagé is inviting the public to assist in completing the exhibit this week by decorating pillowcases, volunteering to assist with the exhibition installation and more. The organization still hopes to collect another 1,700 decorated pillowcases for the exhibit to bring the total up to 4,700.

How to get involved

  • Blank pillowcases, art supplies and gloves will be available at Ah-Nab-Awen Park for volunteers to decorate pillowcases from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday ahead of the exhibit’s opening.
  • Dégagé is looking for volunteers to help install pillowcases from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday. Those interested can register as volunteers at the bottom of this page.
  • The community can decorate and donate pillowcases through Oct. 1. Fencing panels and pins for hanging will be available throughout the exhibition.

More details on the pillowcase project, including pillowcase design tips and drop-off locations, is online.

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