Birth Announcement For Those Who Will And Will Never Be

Issue No. 1: Sex Ed
Words + Quilt - Emily Carris

Birth Announcement For Those Who Will And Will Never Be, 2017
Naturally Dyed Silk, Antique Cotton batting, Cotton/Polyester Thread
Dye Materials

  • Catnip

  • Cinnamon

  • Goldenrod

  • Iron (Derived from slave shackles)

  • Rue

  • Safflower

  • Tansy

Birth Announcement…draws on the historic tradition of improvisational protection quilts created by those in bondage during the transatlantic slave trade. The piece makes use of cotton batting from the mid 1800’s and incorporates botanical dyes made from naturally occurring abortifacients or plants historically used to induce miscarriage. My goal with this work is to explore the social, historical, and political significance of the female body, procreation, choice and all the emotional complexities therein.

There are many contributing factors to this piece, being a 34 yr. old cis-gendered Black female whose ovaries are on the wane, I’ve been told a lot about myself and my body. Particularly in the current political climate, all women’s needs continue to be usurped by a system designed to discount and destroy us. I was prompted to begin relearning some of my radical wombynist teachings post election. I’ve been reminded viscerally by bell hook, Alice Walker, Monica Sjöö, Barbara Mor, and Anne Hibner Koblitz, among others, that we gave birth to the world nobody has landed on this earth who hasn’t passed through a womb. The creator is named as a man but creation lays solely in the hands wombyn.

As all of these writers point out that Wombyn has been silenced through out history, her/their voice and story stifled in favor of purity and religious fidelity that governs us in free or bonded societies. Abortion and contraception have been in a wombyn’s control for thousands of years. As Anne Hibner Koblitz discusses in Sex and Herb and Birth Control: Women Fertility Regulation Through the Ages early agrarian wombyn learned from their animal counterparts about which plants induced miscarriage. Over time our ancestors developed a very keen sense of the wombyn’s body in relation to the natural world, using herbs, teas, and tinctures to control the flow of the world’s population. Patriarchy has responded by mentally, physically, and spiritually controlling The Wombyn. Our path out of bondage is learning all we can about our bodies, our stories, and our ancestral knowledge.


  • sent by earth: a message from the grandmother spirit, Alice Walker; Seven Stories Press, 2001.

  • Teaching Community, bell hooks; Routledge, 2003.

  • The Great Cosmic Mother, Monica Sjöö and Barbara Mor: Harper One, 1991

  • Sex and Herb and Birth Control: Women Fertility Regulation Through the Ages, Anne Hibner Koblitz; Kovalevskaia Fund 2014

  • Eve’s Herbs: A History of Contraception and Abortion in the West, John M. Riddle: Harvard University Press, 1997

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