There Was No Penis.

So. To clarify. There isn’t an actual penis in this quilt. Surely there are other things people could freak out about, but not a penis. So my quilt was pulled from AQS Grand Rapids because of something That Is Not Actually THERE. Yup. That’s something to be significantly irritated about. No number of cover-ups would help, because it’s just not fucking there.

I’d like to thank my readers for bringing up two penile possibilities though. First, here’s the full quilt again, for those who had a blessedly relaxing Saturday without staring at blogs or Facebook (good on you!).

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This quilt is I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket, completed in September 2010, touring with the People and Portraits exhibit since October 2013. The title comes from a radio ad I was listening to while pondering the meaning of this quilt, which came almost entirely out of a running nightmare I had for over a week, where I was losing things in the water and people were standing around not helping, and I was diving down and trying to find the things I lost, which ranged from my phone to babies, actual babies, and I’d wake up panicked and breathing fast. Here’s the official statement (which I found very difficult to write…almost as difficult to explain the piece)…

Two sisters in a strange land.
A lost life jacket.
A nasty oil spill.
No explanation needed.

My dream inhabited by strangers.

So first of all, the two people in the water are sisters. I have been told the one on the right reads as a male. OK. I don’t really mind when people interpret my work. I put it out there and sometimes there’s a clear message and sometimes there’s not. It’s a surreal collection of crap that inhabited my head. This is one of those. It’s not the first one and it won’t be the last. Take from it what you will.

I started with a bunch of smaller drawings of pieces of the nightmare…done mostly while waiting for dinner at a restaurant. The woman giving birth (except no umbilical cord in this one…think this was more about the losing a baby into the water)…

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The sister on the left in a larger drawing…

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Which in the redraw, became this (the one from which I made the quilt)…

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See any penises? No. You don’t.

This was the whole original drawing…I hated the figures on the right…but it was a start.

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This was one of the pre-drawings as well…I still like this one.

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Oh wait…there’s a shadow…under a hand. Keep that in your head…

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Here was the full sketchbook drawing for the quilt…then I enlarged it and added to the side and bottom. I don’t honestly know why…but I can check my weekly art journal for that time period.

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All it says is that I enlarged it and added stuff to bottom and right side, finished drawing in late June 2010, 1300+ pieces in it. I liked having a big piece to work on over the summer back then (well, I still do, but I’m more likely to work on big pieces all year round now). So yeah. Started drawing in May…dreaming in May…drawing done in June, quilt done in September.

So some people thought the umbilical cord on the woman/baby in the background might have been seen as a (really long, bendy) penis (that just happened to be attached to a baby’s bellybutton and in a woman’s vagina).

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Nope. Just gonna tell her the truth. That’s not a penis. It’s a baby. Yes, some babies have penises, but they’re not long and curly and in a mother’s vagina. Seriously. Some people have criticized sex education in Michigan. OK. But I think the show folks could help the penis-imaginer with her understanding.

This is the figure some have called male (I guess because no obvious girly curves?). And someone mentioned the shadow under the hands as possibly being interpreted as a penis…

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So below on the left, under the hands, you can see the shadowy bit…on the right, I outlined the entire shadow to show that is certainly not even penis-shaped. Again, something show organizers could have pointed out and/or realized.

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Seriously though, if I’m going to put a penis in a quilt, it’s gonna be pretty obvious…like in Work in Progress

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Look. It’s a penis. Clearly. I even put a red arrow pointing at it so you would not miss it.

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Some people like to accuse me of wanting attention or making art for shock value. I really don’t. I just draw. And then I make quilts out of some of them. I don’t think about what all y’all are gonna think when you see it. The making is not about you. And no, I don’t do pretty landscapes. I do stuff that’s a reaction to what’s in my head, what I dreamed about, what’s out in the world. I’m not scared or shocked by nudity and it often confuses me when other people are.

And then some people tell me to ignore the naysayers, the critics, the censors, the quilt police…but here’s the problem with ignoring it. It Doesn’t Stop. It Doesn’t Go Away. I want to live in a world where I don’t have to worry about what’s in my art because someone might be offended or censor me. Because I’m truly tired of that. I did worry a bit when they told me this exhibit was doing the AQS circuit, because that’s quilt shows. And I don’t really enter quilt shows any more because of this shit. Often when I enter a show, I don’t even know where the piece will travel. And sometimes, because I’m oldish (not really old yet, but older than I was when I started making art), I do consider just holing up, being even more of a hermit and introvert than I already have become, and ignoring everyone. But it’s not in my nature to ignore stupidity and ignorance and censorship. It’s in my nature to be the person that stands up and yells about it. Because I want it to stop for everyone. My kids. Younger artists. All of us. I don’t want to be 90 years old and still getting frustrated over this shit. I want the world to be a more accepting and tolerant place than it is right now, and it doesn’t feel that way AT ALL.

So that’s where I’m at. Surely I won’t stop making and exhibiting quilts. I even have a grand idea for a penis quilt now. You’ll laugh. Seriously. But in reality, I have a whole ‘nother quilt in process right now, school starts tomorrow, and I’m still pissed off and frustrated, but it won’t stop me. I just want AQS to realize that it was a stupid thing they did and they need to either stand up for the special exhibits in their shows or get out of the art-quilt world. I can’t change the mind of that woman who imagined a penis. I just wish the show organizers had handled it in a mature and reasonable way. They didn’t.

And here’s the thing…this is the quilt that was hanging next to it…Fully Medicated

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And that is a seriously large vulva…

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With a snake peeking out above it. And that didn’t put her panties in a wad.

Walk by it people. If you don’t like it, if it makes your heart flutter in a bad way, if you feel a need to call Fox News, just walk the fuck on by. It’s what I do when I see your bad compositions and copies of things that are overdone already and crappy color choices. I walk the fuck on by.

Still pissed. But it’s OK. It’s not going to stop me.

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.

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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.

The Goddess of Something…

So I have two quilts in Daytona Beach right now…with the AQS circuit. So enjoy Fully Medicated

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And I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket

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I keep forgetting about the pieces traveling with all the quilt shows. I have a real shortage of work in house at the moment. I know, it’s an elegant problem to have, unless you have shows to enter and nothing with which to enter. I have two coming up where I think I just can’t enter. That kind of sucks. Oh well. I made decisions about what to enter where, and this is what happens. It’s kind of a bloody miracle I’ve gotten the last two pieces done in time for the shows I figured they were made for. So there. Keep making work. I love the chaos of the Lifejacket piece. Should remember that for the next big one. Maybe blow off the themes that are coming up and just MAKE something.

You’ve got a few more days to see the exhibit at Grossmont…we’re pulling it down next Saturday. Hoping to get a little more press out of it.

And I got photos back from the photographer of the new piece…

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Her name is still in my brain, working its way out, so just know it’s the Goddess of something, I’m not sure exactly what yet. Possibly everything. Just like me…I’m the Goddess of something…of cleaning up cat puke. Of coupons. Of paperwork. Of Google Classroom. Of the bougainvillea. Of multi-tasking. Of blueberry oat bars. That seems like enough.

And I worked a bit on the drawing…

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Hard to see anything, because I’m still in pencil, because I don’t wanna fuck it up. I think the male figure is almost ready for ink. Then I’ll need to turn it upside down to do the other female…and figure out what’s going on with the hair. And the empty spots. Probably should figure out the main figure’s hair before I draw his wings. You know, like you do.

I’m really annoyed by empty spots. I like to fill everything in. I blame Richard Scarry. And Dr. Suess. OK, maybe that’s just how my brain works.

I saw this last night. There were two, but there was a guy in the way of the second one. Please sir, move so I can photograph the scary faces.

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And Midnight is in her standard place.

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I’m buried in grading. I have a ton of yardwork and housework. I still need to finish taxes and start financial aid. I can’t deal with any of it right this second. I’m too tired. Sad! That said, I got up at a reasonable hour, finished grading tests and another assignment, then did yardwork, drew, ate, and I think I showered in there. I think I’m going to spend an hour trying to draw some more and then give up for the day. Because. Because I have to hang out with humans for some period of time or I go a bit bonkers. More than I already am. There’s a fine line between the bonkers that keeps me going and making stuff and the bonkers that throws me down the hole. I’m staying above ground right now. Need to keep doing that.