A Safe Place for All the Pieces That Scattered*

Skipped writing on Saturday again. I got up and worked and worked and worked until it was time to leave. Starting to be a pattern. Friday night, I graded for 4 hours, so I didn’t have much to show anyway. That’s why I got up on Saturday and got the binding on the damn quilt. No excuses. And emailed the photographer and told him I’d be done tomorrow. (I’m not done…but I will be.)

This is what grading on a rainy Friday night looks like (OK, it was pouring and the biggest storm in 20 years was pounding San Diego, and I had flashlights on the coffee table in front of me because power had been going out around town, and the dog kept barking at the wind noises, but you get the main idea.)…

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I made it through a pretty big chunk of the science units…still one period to do, hopefully tonight. There’s about 4 other assignments though, so I shouldn’t start celebrating yet. Just the two biggest are almost done. A relief in that…been grinding my teeth over these (and other things). Need to remedy that.

I did the lighter pink in the bottom right corner, some fly stitching that turned into french knots and stars in the cretan stitch until I used up all the thread.

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Then I put the binding on…it’s about 384″ of binding and sleeves that will need to be hand sewn down now…

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There were moments of sun, enjoyed by kittens everywhere, but especially this one…

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AQS has not figured out that I don’t want their mail. I still have friends (and people I barely know) send me photos of their mail back to AQS, telling them no, because of their censorship of me. That’s cute. I like that. I didn’t want to waste a stamp on it (I did look to see if it was postage paid)…

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Then I headed out to the living room to do some of the hand stitching on the binding. Kitten helped by holding down the science units I’d already graded.

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Honestly, I was really tired and it was late afternoon, not my strong point. I took a short nap. The dogs were up really early.

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But I did more of it later that night while watching some movie…

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I realized it was sunny and raining, turned around on the couch, and saw this…which my phone camera could not capture in all its beauty…

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And then my ex sent a picture of Simba…for all you who think he’s oh so cute, this is what he does at my ex’s house…

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Oh yeah. That’s cute. Kinda glad he doesn’t do that here.

Anyway, I have another 3-day weekend, the Other President’s Day…so I have tomorrow off. Lots of grading and hand-stitching in my plans. Plus the quilt needs ink and ironing and de-hairing for when the photographer can take it…and then I need to finish the drawing that I’ve been staring at for days. I keep adding small stuff, but I don’t have a final plan for the whole thing. Getting there though…not as far as I wanted to be this week, but hell, this whole year has been like that. I’m just trying to get through it all without too much insanity. Kinda my mantra this year.

*Indigo Girls, Love Will Come to You

All My Nightmares Escape My Head*

So first of all, another type of protest art quilt show…when my quilt got pulled in August from the AQS QuiltWeek exhibit in Grand Rapids, Michigan, because there was an invisible penis in it, Maddie Kertay offered to show my two quilts (because in the end, they pulled both my quilts) at her quilt store in Chattanooga, Tennessee, during AQS QuiltWeek down there. By the way, Facebook thinks Bonnie Browning and I should be friends (she’s the AQS Show Director…probably the sweet dear heart who pulled my stuff). This is how you know Facebook is an idiot. Because Bonnie and I are not friends. Bonnie can’t even have the decency to contact ME about pulling my work.

Then Maddie decided to host an online show called The Skin We Are In (not safe for work)…

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I just love that picture. I should say that Maddie is the badass chick in charge of the BadAss Quilters Society and you should totally be a member. ANYWAY, the show is up and you should go see some of the very cool work that has been posted. Molli Sparkles has made a lovely quilt with ALL the penises very clearly marked so you can easily report them to Bonnie Browning. I’m hoping someone has sent her this link.

Sometimes grading is amusing…

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I feel like I would totally give her extra credit if she would provide me with some proof.

Sometimes grading is annoying and I walk away from it. That happened last night. So after battling with a bag of hash browns and eventually winning (I’ve never been able to cook them right, but last night I triumphed! I had to throw out the first two tries, but the third was successful! High fives!), I did some feathery things in the middle…

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To fill in space. Because I’m realizing I should do that. Otherwise I won’t be able to fit 365 days’ worth of stitching in there.

So then I came in here and quilted, and I actually got started relatively early (9:30?) because I really couldn’t stand grading any more. I thought maybe I was being extra mean, but it was more like no one wanted to read instructions. It’s hard to grade stuff when it’s all bad grades. It makes you feel like a shitty teacher. And it’s true, I missed one day when they were working on this. Sigh.

I finished the arm and the rest of the skeleton. I didn’t take a picture because I was on a roll. Don’t stop when you’re on a roll.

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It’s funny because I feel like I’ve really achieved something by finishing all the outlining, but in reality, now I have to do the background quilting, and that’s not a small task. It’s a different rhythm though…

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I don’t have to be as careful as I do when outlining. It took 12 hours to outline all this, by the way.

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It’s not a record for me, I’m sure. I have some quilts that might be as big as this? Maybe?

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I need to go back and catch some places where I didn’t stitch down properly. And then I’ll start on the background…probably not tonight…

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But definitely tomorrow. I want this quilted and the binding at least machine-stitched on by Monday night. At the photographer by the end of next week. Starting on the next quilt (which does not even exist on paper) by next week.

Yeah. Crazy. Kitten slept through all that.

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Although at some point, she woke up to give me a high five.

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Thanks Kitten. I know, right? It’s awesome that I finished that part. BOOM!

*Radical Face, Welcome Home

Tell Me Why It’s So*

Hey. First Friday of the school year. I’ve almost survived the first week. It’s gonna be a challenging year. Which is why I’ve come home every single day and launched myself into artmaking as soon as I could. I’ve walked dogs and gone to the gym and done some ball throwing and general lying on the floor so dogs could check in, but mostly, I’ve come home and made art. Luckily there’s been food in the fridge, so I haven’t had to do a lot of cooking.

And some time Wednesday night, my brain released most of the crap about AQS and their statement (I had already released the censorship part…it’s just irritating stupid crap that I will keep running into as long as I make the art that’s in my head). I’m in serious Fuck You mode on all of it now. I briefly considered making a quilt of a certain AQS high muckymuck with a penis coming out of her head, and then I grew up and continued on.

OK. I still have that image in my head, but I don’t have to make that quilt. Honestly, I don’t have time. And I don’t care enough about it to do that. I have a million other deadlines I’m dealing with right now, and I want those quilts NOT to be reactions to this, although the censorship angle…it works for a show I’m hoping to be in next Spring. So maybe that’s where I go. I was going that direction anyway. Honestly, so much of my work is feminist and/or based on women’s lives and experiences, that all this focus on a penis that was never there is kind of a slap in the feminist face. Or a highly amusing, ironic event that got my work some eyeballs they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. So there we are. Come for the imaginary penis! Stay for the real art!

This is how I keep my head straight. Well, as straight as it ever is.

Yeah, I saw SAQA’s statement. I saw it ahead of time. I honestly think they are trying to make all this work. I really really don’t want them to pull the whole exhibit because of this. And I am still concerned, because I think my work will still be an issue…and I know that because it’s pretty recognizable, there are probably jurors who will see it and think, um, do I want a Nida quilt in this show? And they’ll decide no. But they probably would have said no anyway. So thanks to the jurors who say yes. And I’m OK with the jurors who say no because it doesn’t fit. Because that happens. But yeah, the gut is still concerned. The brain has a tiny bit that worries all the time. Well. A not-so-tiny bit. I’ve told it to shut up and have a margarita and get back to me when it wants to worry about real shit, like paying for college.

I do exhibit in art shows too…but that’s a challenge as well. So. I guess I’m up for some more challenges. Bring it.

If it seems like I’m ironing all the time at the moment, it’s because I am. I have not organized this for two days. Wait. That’s not true. I organized it right before I started ironing because I couldn’t find anything.

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And it’s messy again. That’s my real issue with cleaning.

Kitten sat in the box and squished all the pieces down. I kicked her out, turned around, and she was back in it. Sigh. So it looks like less than yesterday, but I did all that detail stuff…hearts and veins and tattoos and lungs and hair and I don’t even know what else. A knife.

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I still have a rocket to do (they keep showing up in the last few quilts)…and the top part of the main figure’s face, because it’s not flesh colored. And then the clouds and everything (fucking tiny pieces) in them. So I realized this morning I really only have about 150 pieces left. I can do that. Not right now. Even though I’m already exhausted. And it’s morning and I have to get through a Friday with 140 7th graders on their first real lab day. Yeah. I’ll be FRESH when I get home. And after I go hang out with gamer buddies and maybe play games. Uh huh. No really. I usually do work on Friday nights too.

It’s a big quilt. Not as big as the last one. Taller than I am. Not that that means much.

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My students make cover pages for each science unit, and I always do one too. The girlchild says this is weirder than usual. The snake happened because I had this empty space and the kids said, “you’ve been talking about snakes getting loose all week…where’s your snake?” So I drew one. But he was up in the air, so he needed wings. And then he was too fat in the middle, so he must have just eaten. Probably shouldn’t fly so soon after eating.

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I kept calling the mad scientist female, and they were convinced it was a man. Oh my. Well we will have to change some of that shit this year. Yes children. Girls SCIENCE. That’s why she has pink pants. Because I would never wear pink pants, but in their minds, a male never would either, so they HAVE TO SEE HER as a woman. And I didn’t even give her boobs and a uterus. Ha! Yes. I think that hard about what I teach and how I teach it.

So today, we will science. And hopefully I will have more patience than yesterday.

The dogs aren’t helping. This is a brief moment of quiet truce. Otherwise it’s been chaos.

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I love making art. I love drawing. I love picking fabrics. I love ironing it all together and seeing the image appear. I love adding the stitching line and waiting for the official photographs. I love coming home almost every night and coming in here to iron or sew, or sitting on the couch with a pile of pieces that need to be cut out or with a binding that needs sewing. That’s the shit I need to remember. I love all that more than I love mailing it off for a show. Really. I do.

Thanks again for all the comments. I’m buried and overwhelmed with trying to answer all of them, but know that I’ve seen them. And they mean something to me.

*Tom Waits, Tell Me

Living Life Gets Hard to Do*

In a different place today, in my head. Those late-night conversations I have while I’m trying to fall asleep don’t help. Last night was better, because I know I am just going to keep making art the way I do, drawing what I want (I can’t tell you how many people are demanding I do more penises now…and if they come up? That’s fine. Come up…heh heh heh…see, I AM a middle-school teacher. But I really am gonna just draw like I normally do, without all y’all watching over my shoulder), making the quilts that I want, trying to meet all my deadlines. That’s what I need to focus on. Not the crazy. Hear the good and ignore the bullshit that major companies make up to make themselves look better (by the way, AQS, it didn’t work. I still think you suck. And I’m not the only one. You didn’t count on some introverted antisocial quilter from East County being louder than you. Thank you, internet.).

Whatever. Actually, some part of me wants to enter every AQS show from now until I die, but I don’t have a lot of extra money and I don’t want any of it going to them. I’ve never entered an AQS show. I don’t plan to start now.

SAQA has contacted me, and they’ll release a statement soon. I think they really are trying to change some of the stuff that has not been great in the past. I think one of the best things about this was the people on the floor at Grand Rapids who took a picture of my quilt and were showing it to the viewers and telling them it was banned. That warms my heart.

Someone asked about my exhibition plan…and I always have one. I always enter some, like Art Quilt Elements (got into that this year), Quilt National, Visions (those are always long shots), Quilts=Art=Quilts. I don’t always get in. I look for the SAQA shows that are going to travel, especially the museum ones. I don’t even enter the regular IQF show. I can’t enter my local quilt show, because they have some clause about “family friendly” or whatever it is now. I don’t live in a particularly progressive county. We have a SAQA regional show in a local performing arts center, and it’s always a toss up as to whether I’ll have work that can show there…I didn’t this year. I don’t always plan to have a smaller no-naked quilt lying around. So none of this was expected. I live sort of on the edge of quilt world and art world.

I’m trying to get this next quilt done, despite all this and the stuff at school and dealing with the kids being gone and the herd of dogs I’m now managing. It’s a better place for my head than out in Wonder Land.

I finished laying out the last of the human figures, the biggest one, but also mostly hidden by the figures in front of it…which is an interesting concept in itself.

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This is what a piece of fabric looks like when I’ve tried to fit them all on there. This one will have a lot of little pieces left, but not a lot else. I should design a quilt with a lot of little people in it to use up all the little pieces of flesh color…

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I tend to use the same flesh colors over and over until there isn’t enough of it to use anymore. I have one flesh fabric that I bought yardage of way way way back, like when I started art quilting. Seriously, it’s in my first real art quilt, back in 1999 or so. But usually I only buy 1/2 yards, so there isn’t a lot of it if there are big flesh pieces in the quilt. It might not do more than two quilts or bodies.

But I still hadn’t done all the inner pieces, all the non-fleshy bits. It was a ton of pieces by then. An overwhelming pile.

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But I put a dent in it…an eyeball here, a lightning bolt there. Until I was too tired. About 2 1/2 hours last night, I think. I’m in the 1000s, but I still have a bunch of filler pieces to do. So I’m getting close to done. I don’t think I’ll finish tonight, but I might get close.

Here’s the box…glad I moved to the bigger one.

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Because it’s almost full…

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Kitten keeps adjusting music and video by lying on the keyboard.

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Apparently she doesn’t like Gillian Anderson’s British accent any more than I do.

OK. Artmaking in the brain. Because the rest is too much chaos, even for me. (That may include my job, for which I need to leave rather soon.)

*Maroon 5, Sunday Morning

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

Open up Your Folding Chair Next to Me*

Not sure why I’m not sleeping at the moment. The adjustment from my summer hours to my school hours? I went to bed early (for me) last night and then couldn’t sleep. Seems pointless to try sometimes. It’s not really hot at the moment. I know I’m stressed, overwhelmed, and that doesn’t help, but I did a 3-mile walk with the dogs yesterday. It should have helped. It just made my feet hurt.

So now I stand all day at school and come home and walk three miles and then stand next to an ironing board. Really I should thank my feet for any portion of that, and realize when I wake up the next morning that I am hard on them. Sorry feet.

So we walked…

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And it was good. I appreciate the kids kicking my hiking butt into shape this summer. The hilly hike was easy…ish.

I also spent some time on the floor with dogs…

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When my feet were hurting at the ironing board. Today, I get a third dog. Introducing chaos to chaos.

So what stopped me ironing the night before was getting to the first figure in the quilt. There are four overlapping figures and I kinda had to pick all the flesh colors at once to make sure it would work. So here’s the four runs…actually, that one darker brown got used in the last run as well. Those two figures barely touch, so it will be fine.

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While I was trying to pick those out, Simba was launching himself at me with all the toys he could find. It was not helpful.

I transferred the ironed pieces into a larger bin, because I realized the smaller one was almost full and I was barely into the ironing. I did Figure 1 (super small guy…no penis) and then started on Figure 2, but it was late and I was tired. I did her bones, but then quit, because she’s the front figure and very complicated. Lots of pieces…only some of them below.

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I have her fabrics laid out here and I’ve started placing all the fleshy bits.

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I’ll finish her tonight. I hope.

I didn’t clean up the fabrics last night because I have two flesh runs I want to keep out and the white pile on top is the bone colors…not sure if I’ll change those from figure to figure. I could.

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A new friend posted this…

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I laughed a lot. I talked to my mom last night and she’s written AQS two emails, admitting that she’s my mom, but hey…she’s actually still an AQS member! I gave up on them years ago, mostly because I grew out of needing to see their magazine. Now I like to see art quilts, but don’t need how-to stuff really at all.

Anyway, late to school…the computer was being a pain this morning…and the internet. Probably going to have to deal with the latter issue sometime soon. Ugh.

*Regina Spektor, Folding Chair

I Like Having a Detachable Penis*

Really I don’t know how I didn’t think of this song earlier. So yesterday was the first day for teachers to be back at school, which basically means a 6-hour-long staff meeting. About halfway through the first long stretch, I get the email from SAQA telling me that AQS has pulled I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket (or for that matter, not showing a penis) from the last of the two shows it was supposed to be in, Chattanooga and Des Moines. Understand that I’m already tired and stressed from starting school, and I vacillate between angry as hell, really frustrated with reactions to my art, and incredibly depressed about the possibility of even more restrictions on my work. There are venues where I can’t show my work even now, and there’s even issues with the art world accepting quilts as art. “It’s fabric? Then it’s a CRAFT.” Huh. Last I looked, canvas is fabric. But whatever. These are not new issues. This has all happened before, multiple times. There are magazines that won’t show my work as well, which is annoying. And no, I’m not the only one. By far.

But dammit, I want that all to change.

So I was upset. Still am. But not so upset to stop working on the next quilt. In fact, I’m powering through it because of upcoming deadlines. I honestly appreciate all the positive and uplifting comments I get from y’all. One comment yesterday I had to read aloud to the other teachers at lunch because it almost made me cry. Granted, I’m a hormonal menopausal mess, so stupid shit makes me cry. It helps…because then I feel less alone, less like I’m standing at the end of a hallway with all my work piled up around me as the door gets slammed in my face. No! You will NOT show your work!

Life Jacket was drawn around the time of the Gulf oil spill…

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That guy. Yelling at her.

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“You’re doing it wrong!”

Not a penis.

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Sigh. The second part of the email is where SAQA let me know that they asked AQS to commit to not pulling my other piece, Fully Medicated (which has had no complaints lodged against it), for the rest of the circuit. AQS is thinking about that. They Have to THINK About It. I’m really unhappy about that. They accepted the special SAQA exhibit as part of their show. They should stand behind it. Or not accept it in the first place.

Either you show art, or you admit you can’t handle it.

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I’m still waiting to hear back on that level of crazy.

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It’s funny, because years ago, when I was first starting out, I preferred the AQS magazine over Quilters Newsletter Magazine, because they had more arty articles about quilt techniques. QNM seemed to be mostly traditional stuff. But QNM has backed me for years; they have posted pictures of my work, and then backed it up in the Letters section when people freaked out about those pictures. I stopped being a member of AQS years ago, when I grew out of it, but I kept my QNM subscription all this time.

I just want AQS to feel some pressure from the quilt world. I don’t want people to not go to the shows, because that hurts the other artists as well. I want them to go and then complain to the organizers. Or email AQS and let them know they don’t support censorship. I still want them to go and see the shows and buy from the vendors, and maybe, just maybe, go check out the SAQA exhibits and see what tickles their fancy.

They pulled the quilt because one person complained about something that wasn’t there. I want to be more than one person complaining about their actions.

No, AQS has not contacted me. I doubt they will. And I may be blacklisted from their shows from here on out. Someone brought up the fact that the quilt that was at the Mancuso show where a woman not only complained, but called Fox News, who showed up and called me a pornographer…the Mancusos left the work hanging. And left it in the traveling exhibit for the remainder of the shows. I’m sure I caused them some stress, but I probably also got them some tickets sold. And there were no issues at any of the other shows

So yesterday, after being at school all day, tired and stressed, affected by all this shit, I sat down and cut out the rest of the Wonder Under for the new quilt…

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About 9 1/2 hours total. Tonight, I’ll sort them and maybe get my office cleaned up enough to start picking fabrics. I have a really tight schedule on this one…

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I also prepped a science lab for later this month…black boxes. Each box has a piece of cardboard and a marble, and they get taped shut. There are four versions, with different shapes of cardboard and/or locations. The cats did not help.

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What science teachers do at home to get ready for the school year.

Simba is being a sweetheart, sitting on the boychild…who is leaving in two days.

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I miss the girlchild already. OK. Gotta go to work and get my classroom ready for the 150 or so 7th graders who will show up Thursday. Then come home and make art that makes people freak out. Or love it. Or even just go “Huh.” And walk on by.

*King Missile, Detachable Penis