Sunday, March 6, 2011

Quilt Show Controversy

I came across this report from Hampton, VA's Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show and shared the link with a friend who is an avid teacher of the craft.

The quilt, by Kathy Nida of California, depicts a homeless woman and her unborn child living in a cardboard box. Nida says the quilt is about being one paycheck away from desperation and begging for help.

My reaction was to the tremendous sense of vulnerability in exposure.

My friend was shocked by the upset interviewees' insensitivity over the issue of the woman's homelessness... And she decided to post it in an online forum of quilters to see how they'd react.
"I think in bygone years quilting may have been connected with all white, older Christian women making feed sack quilts. Now, however, there is a much wider cross section of both quilters and quilts... Plus contemporary 'art quilts' are popular."
Among the initial feedback:
  • Artists have a right to create, but I don't have to like it
  • Recognition of the ideas of poverty, women's vulnerability, etc.
  • Indignation... Quilting is for (pleasant) entertainment only
That last one elicited a suggested warning sign: "You may see a troubling aspect of society and be moved to do something about it!"
There were 5 pages of lively debate over the next day, including:
"Several writers (who) went back and forth with some strong opinions, but nothing inappropriate..."
Until the administrator shut down the topic.
"First time I've ever seen that on this board. I am so disappointed that he/she felt that a spirited discussion warranted shutting it down. I guess body parts and/or controversy are just too scary for some. Sad."
Representational Art in any medium can be quite provocative... Not everybody likes that feeling. But being moved is the whole point of it.

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