The Auntie Sewing Squad: A Virtual Author Talk Hosted By ‘Social Justice Sewist’ Katy Korkos

Mesa Library presents a virtual author talk with founding members of the Auntie Sewing Squad April 28. Courtesy/LAC


The staff at Mesa Public Library will present a virtual author talk with founding members of the Auntie Sewing Squad, Chrissy Yee Lau and Preeti Sharma 7-8 p.m. Thursday, April 28.

This program is ideal for those interested in learning about how a multigenerational, grassroots coalition of mask-making “Aunties” came together to form a massive mutual aid network in March of 2020, just as the pandemic began its spread throughout the United States.

Driven by a bold social justice mission to protect those being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, the Aunties sewed and distributed masks to asylum seekers, Indigenous communities, incarcerated people, farmworkers, those displaced by wildfires, and many others.

Written and edited by the Aunties themselves, The Auntie Sewing Squad Guide to Mask Making, Radical Care, and Racial Justice tells a powerful story of social and political action during a time of national unrest.

Lau is assistant professor of History at California State University, Monterey Bay. She writes histories on race, gender, religion and empire and has published her research in the anthology Gendering the Trans-Pacific World and in a special issue of Southern California Quarterly.

Sharma is assistant professor of American Studies at California State University, Long Beach. Her scholarship on feminist theories of work, racial capitalism, service economies and alternative labor organizing has appeared in the Journal of Asian American Studies, Society and Space, and the first national policy study on labor issues within the nail salon sector.

This program will be hosted by Los Alamos quilter Katy Korkos, who was one of more than 800 sewists who worked with the Auntie Sewing Squad. Together, they made nearly 400,000 masks before retiring in the late summer of 2021.

Fourteen hundred of those masks were sewn by Korkos, who said, “I’m a sewist, descended from sewists, tailors and garment workers. I was already making masks for local groups when I found the Auntie Sewing Squad. I fell in love with the Aunties’ humor, the group’s mission, its generosity, its mutual goodwill, its community, and its high level of irreverence. Through doing this work, I have discovered a new calling—that of social justice sewing.”

This program is free to the public and made possible by Friends of Los Alamos County Libraries.

Registration is required to obtain a Zoom meeting link and access to the program. For more information, visit the event calendar at or call Jessica Jenkins at 505.662.8257.

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