More Than This*

So AQS finally felt enough pressure (thank you all) to make a statement about pulling my quilts (although they only talked about pulling the one). I’m confused because it doesn’t match anything I was told. Well, except that they removed it. The statement is below…I’m not exactly sure where it’s posted in real life, because it wasn’t sent to me by AQS. Nothing has been sent to me or communicated to me from AQS directly.

“After receiving numerous complaints from attendees about a quilt in the SAQA exhibit, AQS removed the quilt from the People & Portraits exhibit at the Grand Rapids QuiltWeek event.

Prior to removing the quilt, the feedback AQS received was not limited to one isolated comment. Attendees reached out to AQS staff at the show and via emails and phone calls to our office.

Despite the removal of this quilt, AQS was able to display more than 700 other quilts at the show for viewing by the general public in Grand Rapids.”

This kind of thing makes me sick to my stomach. I’m amazed by their disrespect toward me and SAQA. And I’m worried that this will hurt me and other art quilters in the long run. I wonder if there were no comments during the other four QuiltWeek events or if I was just kept out of the picture. I remember the feeling in my gut when SAQA told me this exhibit was traveling with AQS. I think I have quilt show PTSD at the moment. So I guess any traveling show I’m in, my work will now get pulled if it goes into one of the quilt show circuits. Thanks to the Mancusos for not reacting that way back in 2011. Appreciate the respect.

Here’s a post by Virginia Spiegel that explains why I haven’t been sleeping for the last week. As I’m sitting here working on the next “controversial” quilt, I’m wondering how this is going to affect me. I have a piece in SAQA’s Turmoil exhibit that will hopefully travel after it shows in IQF Houston this year. Or maybe it won’t. I’ve already been warned that my Earth Stories piece might be too controversial and pulled from some venues (it deals with free birth control and Planned Parenthood, giving women who WANT it the power to control how many children they have and how often).

Will the work I’m making now ever be in an exhibit? I hope so. But if it’s not, I blame AQS. I blame the woman (what I was told in the beginning) who saw an imaginary penis. Shit. I blame the country’s attitude toward women at the moment and controversy and anything that isn’t pretty. Don’t get me wrong…I love me some pretty art and beautiful quilts. But that’s not all there is.

I really really tried last night to get my head into art so I could sleep. The last part was a failure, but I got a lot of ironing done (and know that there’s some shit at school as well right now that is incredibly overwhelming and stressful, so that’s not helping with the sleep part.).

I lay pieces out by the 100s…I think these are the 600s? Or maybe the 500s.

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When I’m dealing with figures, I try to do all the flesh pieces at the same time, so I know what is what color. This is the 2nd figure, the one in front. Some people are going to look at her and be disturbed. AND THEY SHOULD BE. That is my intent.

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Then I laid out the 3rd figure, who is just behind the 2nd one, so mostly hidden, except for head and shoulders.

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I haven’t ironed all the inner non-fleshy bits though…I still have to do hearts and lungs and hair and anything else that wasn’t basic flesh color. I’ll do some of that tonight, I think.

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I’m in the 700s, but there are probably close to a hundred pieces that aren’t done prior to that (hearts etc.). So maybe halfway done. Shit. It’s taken 11 hours. Not a fast process, by far.

Here’s what I’ve used so far…lots of flesh colors. The pile that’s not in the boxes is for the last figure, who does still have arms and shoulders and head showing.

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Here’s what I have ironed down so far.

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I’d like to be done with ironing them down before the weekend, if not before, but I’m not sure I can do that in two nights. Not if it’s another 11 hours. I did iron for 3-plus hours last night. I kept waiting to be tired. Honestly, I was also watching the last episode of Happy Valley and couldn’t stop. Great show.

On top of this, I’m currently dealing with an extra dog. It was more than I needed yesterday. It took two of us humanoids to manage dinner, and I won’t have that help for the next 4 days. Too much stress. Maybe they’ll be more mellow tonight.

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Kitten is fine though. Irritated about the extra dog, because she’s a cat chaser, but…

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She loves me even though I brought the interloper in.

Shit. This week. This month. I’m going into full hermit mode soon. OK. Maybe I’m already there. I hear all of your messages though. I’m trying to NOT hear all the other messages out there in the world.

*Roxy Music, More Than This

23 thoughts on “More Than This*

  1. Listening to your interview on CraftSanity and I think you’re amazing! If anything this AQS issue will bring you to a more appreciative audience! Thanks for making!! And being YOU!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The cover of the NY Times Sunday magazine was a photo of the statue of David laid down. Full frontal! I’m wondering if the Times is getting any letters about seeing a penis where there really is one. And it’s beautiful!


  3. Laura’s right. People will now go out of their way to see your work and make up their own minds about it. And there will always be people like Maddie at Spool to show your work if there is censure. This is the USA.


  4. There will always be negativity in the world. You just need to focus on what is in your heart and listen to that. Other people’s thoughts are not what make you who you are. Don’t let them dictate to you, then you only fail yourself.


  5. I can’t find words strong enough to say how I feel. So done with small/narrow-minded people who think it’s their job to impose their knee jerk reactions on everyone else. Change comes slowly and uncomfortably. Early machine quilters remember that and still deal with it. If you only want appliqué traditional-based quilts in your shows then that’s all you should accept after saying so up front. Don’t accept and then make up reasons to edit.


  6. Not knowing how you plan your exhibit submissions for the year, I may be touching on an obvious point, but I hope you consistently pursue (non-fiber-only) contemporary art venues. AQS has made it clear they’re not your people. I think you’re leading the way towards a massive shift in thinking and I’m happy to race to keep up with you, Sistah.


  7. Happy Valley! Fantastic show!
    I have no words over the fiasco and cover up. What a cluster….
    Your work will always be appreciated by those who love art and those who get it. It will be shown because (thankfully) AQS and Mancuso aren’t the only game in town.
    F everyone else.


  8. And here was me thinking art is meant to confront, challenge, provoke. Maybe I’ve been thinking erroneously all along…


  9. I know that this will be cold comfort, but you are ahead of your time. Artists like you always face resistance. I completely agree that traditionally beautiful quilts are great, but there’s more to art than that. Somehow I think the imaginary penis is a red herring. The whole style and content are what make people uncomfortable. I hope you are proud of your work and of yourself. The nay-sayers should eat a worm.


  10. I’m male and I have a real penis and I love it and I know how to use it and I don’t care what any female thinks about my penis because I’m not a heterosexual. No female’s ever gotten near it. Because I am who I am- and because I think the way I think and I create what I create and I don’t make pretty anything- and I’ve certainly been quite well known for making controversial art and just being controversial- I gave up on QUILTLAND- including SAQA quite some time ago. It’s infested with christians- and far too many of them are prudes. So if you’re also a christian- oh well. I’m not even sorry. If your work had been shown in THE REAL ART WORLD- which it wasn’t- there would have been no complaints- and if there had been- the complainer would have been laughed out of the room. Maybe you should walk away from the group itself. Then maybe you’ll be able to sleep again.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. AQS is covering their butts because how silly would they look if the whole thing hinged on one person’s comment? (I’d be willing to bet my next paycheck that it did, though.) I’m glad you are receiving far more viewership due to this debacle and that fiber artists (which includes quilters) have found a voice in which to support your work as well as combat the blatant ridiculousness of censorship in artistic expression. Rock on.


  12. If you can make art which triggers this much fear you are making some fine art. It’s women like you who have kept going who have eventually managed to change things for the better. I know it’s hard though.


  13. So, a presumed penis is offensive and Planned Parenthood is taboo. We should all make quilts that depict the results of war, suicide bombers, and human rights violations; those things are not disturbing at all…rethinking my membership in AQS at the moment.


  14. Yeah–I’m with J Bruce Wilcox in that your art is real art and should be in real art venues: galleries, museums, etc. I know the AQS, IQS and Mancuso shows have huge attendance, but it’s not the venue for your work. (Though I would think IQS would embrace it…)
    Leave the quilters behind and find the artists.
    (By the way–not all Christians are prudes. Some are actually nice, open-minded people who don’t mind seeing real art–or penises.)


  15. I AM CHRISTIAN a young 86 and not afraid of art. I would have missed the art world years ago. As it is I enjoy art. Some important Christian works would be pulled from shows if AQS rules were present. Just saying. Go to the Vatican. Just think of that.


  16. Kathy, keep up the good work and show us your vision and talent! The quilt-hiding people at the Grand Rapids show are censors, plain and simple. We should laugh them out of the real quilting world just as they would be laughed out of the broader art world.

    I’ve sent a message of protest to AQS and copied it to SAQA, demanding that AQS apologize in all media for their outrageous censorship. They should have the decency (and good manners) to apologize to you, Kathy, and to SAQA for interfering with the “People and Portraits” group exhibit. The two quilts should be restored to the exhibit, in my opinion, and we should all demand that the exhibit be shown intact.

    Who else should we contact about this, folks, to spread word about this outrage even further?


      1. Thanks! I feel ver strongly about this. What big names in quilting would support Kathy in this situation?


  17. Addendum to my previous post:
    Just found an interesting piece called “Quilts – Art or Not?” by Bill Volckening on a site called “Why Quilts Matter.” It refers to Episode 4 of a nine-part documentary series titled “Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics” that aired on PBS. Worth looking into – I know I will!

    The lone comment, from Mary Vaneecke, says, “It is gratifying to me that the Japanese language has no words to distinguish between art and craft. What a concept! Many people in the ‘quilt world’ (and some in the ‘art world’) use words and categories like these to banish works they have pre-judged. Such discussions become merely petty. It is nice to see a more informed opinion like this in an historical context. Thanks!”


  18. If people are objecting, your art is challenging them. Which is what you are aiming at. All (?) those complaining cannot “unsee” your work. It’s going to eat away at their narrow-mindedness and prejudice and there’s NOTHING they can do about it!
    Never give up. If you reach one person, it is worth Ita,


  19. Just wanted to let you know – I saw your piece in Grand Rapids and found it interesting, humorous and very enjoyable. What the heck is wrong with these women? Hang in there Kathy- you have supporters too.


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