You Won’t Find a Penis at AQS Grand Rapids…

Oh my. Oh dear. Censorship again folks…except this time, I’m being censored for something that’s not even there.

The SAQA exhibition folks were good enough to let me know that a viewer at AQS Grand Rapids, Michigan, had complained about a penis in one of my quilts at the  show and AQS was planning on pulling the quilt. (It’s already shown in Phoenix, AZ; Daytona Beach, FL; Lancaster, PA; and Paducah, KY, as part of the AQS QuiltWeek circuit).

So some person objected to my quilt and couldn’t just walk by, moving on to the next quilt (which is what I do when another Sunbonnet Sue shows its ugly head…I don’t call Fox News…I don’t pitch a fit and refuse to ever come back to another show.)…they had to demand it get pulled from the show.

OK. Um. But there’s no penis in that quilt. Seriously. There isn’t. There’s boobs and uteri and even a woman giving birth, but there’s no penis. None. I swear. I really don’t do a lot of penises and they’re bloody obvious when I do.

The quilt is I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket (did she think the life jacket was a condom? Because it wasn’t. It really was a life jacket. And there isn’t a life jacket in the quilt either, just to confuse things even more.) and it’s part of SAQA’s People and Portraits exhibit, which has been traveling for years and through more cities than I can count. And she didn’t object to the 5-inch vulva in the quilt next to it, Fully Medicated.

Oh don’t worry…I’ll give you a nice big picture so you can do a Where’s Waldo and find Waldo’s penis for me. Because it’s not in there.

Kathy Nida 72

It’s one thing to be censored because of nudity. I don’t agree with that either, but at least it’s not uncommon. It’s another thing to be censored for something that’s not even there. So Michigan, I’m sorry, but if you go to the show and you wanted to see my quilt, you should tell management…since that’s how I got pulled. Someone complained to management and said they’d never come back to an AQS show. And we don’t know if I’ll be allowed to have this piece in QuiltWeek at Chattanooga or Des Moines, so that’s still up in the air. So if you’re planning on going to those shows, you might want to let them know you’re expecting to see my quilt. I’m not going to tell you not to go if they don’t show it. Just tell them you’re not happy about it.

I’m disappointed in AQS’ response. Maybe you are too. Here’s a link to the people in charge of AQS in general…I don’t know who made the decision at the show, but these are the people on high. I’m waiting until they make a decision on the next two shows before I write them. Someone said something to me about this being a quilt show, so I can’t expect art sensibilities…well if that’s the case, AQS needs to stop having art quilt exhibits at their shows or have a clear policy on subject matter (I checked their current show entry forms and there is nothing about that). Plus show me where on my quilt is the thing that the woman imagined was there. Because they took her word over mine. And there is no penis in the damn quilt.

It’s frustrating. I don’t fit in the quilt world because I do art. I don’t fit in the art world because I do quilts. Thanks to Martha Sielman (the author of the book People and Portraits) and SAQA for trying to stand up for my work. Shame on AQS for caving to imaginary issues.

My work was recently in an article about censorship, written by Tanya Brown, in Textile Fibre Forum Issue 122.  I’m not the only one being censored.