Wednesday, April 19, 2023

25 Million Stitches & More at the Mingei Museum

By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt.
Photos by Maurice Hewitt.

Looking at a few of the 25 Million Stitches.

On view at the Mingei Museum in Balboa Park, 25 Million Stitches: One Stitch, One Refugee is a passionate portrayal of mind-numbing statistics.
Guest-curated by Sacramento-based fiber artist Jennifer Kim Sohn, it makes the enormity of the current refugee crisis both visual and emotional, helping us to view every one of the estimated number of refugees worldwide as a fellow-human and potential neighbor. With over 2,000 embroidered panels joined in muslin hangings suspended from the ceiling, you can not only walk through and around the exhibition, but also become part of it by contributing your written impressions to a card-filled wall nearby or adding your own stitch to the embroidery hoop downstairs on the Commons Level.

The numbers behind the exhibit: In 2019, Kim Sohn, herself an immigrant from Korea, began reaching out around the world for volunteers to help sew the 25 million stitches. She ended up with over 2,300 participants from the U.S. and 37 other countries who created over 2,000 embroidered panels, which were placed on 408 strips of muslin.

The show opened in 2019 at the Verve Center for the Arts in Sacramento and went on to the Coconino Center for the Arts in Flagstaff, Arizona in 2022, before coming to the Mingei. 

For an absorbing show-and-tell about the genesis of the project, watch the video below. 


25 Million Stitches will remain here through October 15, but there’s another terrific display at the Mingei right now. You have a few days left to delight in Piñatas: The High Art of Celebration, which closes April 30. With over 80 pieces by an array of inventive piñata-artists, it’s a colorful joy to see, and though they’re all made of traditional piñata materials, they’re giant steps beyond any party piñatas you may have seen before. 

Local students completing class assignments after viewing the exhibit.

Among our favorites are the supersized rosary above and the really big shoes below both by Diana Benavidez, a local piñata artist who is now the Education Specialist at Mingei.

We also loved the two birds above and below by Roberto Benavidez. (No relation to Diana!)

Amorette Crespo made this free-standing piñata in honor of her mother who taught her traditional dances when she was a child.

Two eye-catching pieces by Lorena Robletto, a former social worker for immigrants who began making artful piñatas a decade ago, and now has a Los Angeles studio/storefront where her team creates custom piñatas.

For more about both exhibitions see

Once you’re in Balboa Park, there’s another exhibit at you won’t want to miss. It’s De La Torre Brothers: Post-Columbian Futurism, and it’s just around the corner from the Mingei at ICA San Diego/Central. Doing something weird and wonderful as always, Einar and Jamex de la Torre fill the whole gallery with phantasmagoria you can only get a small sense of in photos, and if you’re inspired, there are materials and assistants to help you create your own little deities in ICA’s Art Hub. The show will go on through August 20, and admission is free, so you can come back again and again.
Here are photos of a few of the brothers’ inimitable creations:

A giant lunar module.

At the table.

 On the wall by the table.

A lenticular painting in the back room: watch it move as you do.

 For more info see
Lonnie Burstein Hewitt is an award-winning author/lyricist/playwright who has been writing about arts and lifestyles in San Diego County for over a dozen years. You can reach her at

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