Open-Minded Snowflake

You’ve probably heard (if you care) that the Threads of Resistance exhibit got pulled from two shows, one in Virginia and one in Michigan (wow, I don’t know anything about dealing with censorship in those two states…excuse the irony). The problems started in Texas, though, and continued in North Carolina. There’s no definitive answer as to why, but one assumes it has something to do with complaints and vendors and how the organizers make their money.

I’m back to that belief that we should allow differing opinions without demanding that organizers shut down exhibits because they are that offensive to someone. I would say that there’s something about our current political climate that makes people think they can demand that their viewpoint is more important than anyone else’s, but realistically, that’s not true. Censorship has been around longer than that. It’s disappointing that (a) the organizers did not stand by their commitment to the exhibit and (b) that people have to be so narrow-minded as to not allow other viewpoints to be around them. If I were in an exhibit of work by say Trump supporters or of anti-feminist work or anti-immigration pieces, I would view them and maybe converse with organizers or artists if they were available. I wouldn’t get angry. I would ask them why they feel that way or dig a little deeper (if allowed), and then what I wouldn’t do is go demand the organizers remove that exhibit or piece from the show. I am an open-minded snowflake, you see. Maybe more people should try that. But you know those people aren’t reading this blog.

Note to self: Don’t talk to people on Facebook unless you know them in person, and even then, it’s questionable. I just hate it when people make shit up, though. I often start typing something and just delete it. It’s better that way. So conversations have to be in person? Maybe. Maybe when they’re looking you in the face, they can’t call you ignorant 17 times. Sigh. Seriously. This is like my day job.

I can’t walk away from Facebook, unfortunately…I have at least one group where I manage their postings. So I’m on there. I just need to moderate my own responses even more than I already do. Or maybe not.

Threads of Resistance will continue to the shows in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York…no worries there. And both of my pieces have body parts (they both have penises! And uteri! And boobs!), so they are in what one woman called the “vulgar” room. You know, the old definition of “vulgar” was characteristic of or belonging to the masses…so I’m OK with that. Here’s the two pieces (weird that they both have trees in them, eh?)…Work in Progress and Absolutely Nothing

Meanwhile, I’ve gotten almost nothing done today except researching portable air conditioners and trying to get the tree guy to call me back. Yesterday was better…although I need to get used to having that quarterly meeting in the middle of the day instead of in the afternoon. I can’t get anything done before it, and it was a stretch to get stuff done afterwards. During the school year might be more difficult.

Oh yeah, we had a peregrine falcon by the pool on Saturday. Very cool…not sure I’ve seen one of them locally, although they are native. Apparently. Great picture, right? We tried to get closer and of course, he flew off.

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We went to the opening at Visions Art Museum down in Liberty Station…Kathy Weaver’s works were amazing. I have liked her work for many years and it was nice to see it up close. Then on to dinner at Soda & Swine, one of our favorites, even if we can’t ever remember which is spicier, the Hog or the Swine.

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Then home, where I finished weaving this for the meeting the next day, although the woman I was supposed to be handing it over to wasn’t there, ironically. Strangely, I thought this and the two small quilts had to be done by yesterday, so I worked to get them done, and both of them are still sitting around my house. Oh well, I’ll mail this off…

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I finished tracing Wonder Under Saturday night at around 9:30 PM, with a total of 22 hours (just under the 23 I finally estimated, but over the 20 hours I originally guessed). I had already started cutting out on Thursday. I think there were about 10 yards of Wonder Under total (some really big pieces)…

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Saturday night, I finished the half yard from before and cut out another yard…so that was 4. I guess that means there were 11 yards, although one’s not full. Because there were 7 yards left on Saturday night…

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Yesterday, puppy was really tired. He was so happy here…tummy scritches and a fan blowing his fur around. Bliss.

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After dinner last night, I watched Harlots (for the costumes, of course) and cut more Wonder Under out.

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OK, so shows like Harlot are entertaining, but then the feminist in me gets upset about the stereotypes and the portrayal of women and the lack of realism in general, and then I wonder what I can actually watch any more that is just kinda fun and interesting and not causing me to question my entire existence. I can’t watch movies any more without wondering why the women always need help, get kidnapped, wear totally inappropriate clothing for the task at hand, or just outright get killed. Something about being old and female, I guess. By the way, if you ever watch The Rover, the whole movie is pointless until the last 5 minutes, and you don’t know it’s pointless until the last 5 minutes.

I kept watching Harlots (with the great costumes) with the hot and furry boy curled up next to me.

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I only have 4 yards left to cut out…so at some point on Sunday, I must have gotten 3 or 4 yards cut out. The box is full…I’ll have to upgrade to a larger one.

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So I started writing this post in the morning, a good 5 or 6 hours ago, and then got heavily side-tracked by a need for cooler air. We researched air conditioners, we’re currently testing a portable unit in my office (it’s a bit large), we looked at a wall unit that was heavily ensconced in years of dust in my parents’ barn. We bought another fan. We might take back the portable unit if it doesn’t do what I need it to do. Sigh. And maybe plan for sometime in the next year or so to put a wall unit in here. Part of the remodel? The remodel I can’t afford? Yeah.

Well the tree guys are coming tomorrow morning really early, to beat the heat, so that’s a whole ‘nother issue. I can’t leave the house while they’re here…the dogs are gonna be frantic. I have to be up early. I want to be working on something. If I finish cutting out all the Wonder Under tonight (possible), then I don’t have a background fabric yet…unless something lying around here would work. Maybe. But I can sort Wonder Under and maybe get started on fabric…but only if I decide permanently what to do about this giant beast of an A/C unit in my office. Double sigh. Because I had to move a bunch of stuff around so I could get the window vent in, and I need to decide if that’s a permanent thing, or if we’re gonna leave it jimmy-rigged like this for the next two months and then take it out when it cools off again. Aargh. Decisions. It’s too hot to make them. I can decide to publish this thing though. That I can do.

The Phallus Debacle

Today’s title from the girlchild, who was objecting to my using the word penis over and over again. So this is what she’s calling the penis kerfuffle. And there, I used it twice. Sorry kid.

Just a quick summary, for those who don’t want to go back four or five posts…this quilt, I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket, was pulled from AQS QuiltWeek in Grand Rapids, MI, due to a viewer complaint about a penis that isn’t actually in the quilt.

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It’s supposed to be shipped back to me, and there’s a possibility of it being shown at a quilt store, SPOOL, in Chattanooga, TN, during AQS QuiltWeek if I can coordinate shipping.

My second quilt in People and Portraits, a SAQA exhibition traveling with AQS QuiltWeek, is Fully Medicated. SAQA asked AQS for a guarantee that they wouldn’t pull it if someone complained about it, and AQS is still thinking about that. I’m hoping a bunch of emails and comments from the rest of the world help remind them that they are in the public eye and persuade them to keep it hung.

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Still no penis. But plenty of other stuff, sure. Maybe pill bottles set you off. Hard to say. I personally have issues with red and yellow used together.

I completely appreciate all those who are being supportive of keeping art out there in the public eye, even if it offends a few…or many. I heard that SAQA was showing my quilt on an iPad and telling viewers it was banned. That makes me laugh heartily, and I appreciate that too. It’s been a roller coaster of a week, what with both kids leaving for college (one is here until tomorrow…the other sent 17 homesick texts this morning at 4 AM), starting school myself, trying to deal with all the stress of change at school, and temperatures of over 100 degrees. I have a migraine this morning (not a good thing) and I’m moody as hell. Blame the censorship, blame the kids leaving, blame my stupid hormones.

I am still making. I am just looking at what I’m doing, though, and thinking “What if this never gets shown anywhere?” Because that’s what goes through your mind when you butt heads with the world like this. I’m going to keep making the art, because I don’t know how to stop…but what if I never get into another show because of it? And I know that’s not going to be the case, but that little voice in your head is worried.

So thanks to all of you…

Sigh. So last night, I did manage to sort the Wonder Under for the next quilt…I start with a box for each 100 pieces…

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And then I stood there with the fan on me directly (because it was still 90 in the house)…and I sorted.

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For about an hour? Not so bad. The last one took more like 2 1/2. There’s a lot of big pieces in this quilt. I really did try to simplify. I just suck at it.

Tonight, I’m hoping to come in here and clean up from the last quilt and all the shit I’ve been doing in between (fixing pants…organizing crap) and start picking fabrics for this one. I figure it’ll take about 15 hours to pick…so hopefully by the weekend some time? Maybe? Then trimming those…by the end of next week? Maybe start ironing next weekend? I’m really trying to get this one done on time…so it’ll be a stretch.

I have to be at school today to prep, even though I’m mostly done. I’d rather be here working. But then, that’s a daily thing.

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.