a quilting controversy

January 29, 2012

i’ve recently become addicted to chawne’s blog, completely cauchy.
i have a not-so-secret desire to quilt,
and since i don’t have time for a new craft,
i’ve decided to live vicariously through her.

her humor,
and general attitude
are so bitches get stitches.

you know,
with quilting.

one of the things i love most about her
is how juxtaposes the idea of the ‘wholesomeness’ of crafting
with profanity.

personally, i think it’s genius;
it makes us critical of our assumptions about
‘women’s’ work
self expression
and what one’s allowed to say.

plus she’s hilarious and makes beautiful shit.

she wrote a guest blog post for whipup
that has caused a mini internet shit storm.
she shared some of her quilts that have profanity stitched on,
including one that has a word with a very powerful history in the u.s.
it took a lot of courage to put that out there,
to share sometime very personal,
and she’s taken some hits for it.

after emailing her asking for permission,
i decided to write a post in support.
i applaud her for being vulnerable
and for confronting racism with her art.

those who say
“she shouldn’t use that word” or
“whipup isn’t the place for this” or
“you should have warned me!”
miss the point entirely;
they foreclose the conversation
so they don’t have to deal with the situation.
making any word off limits doesn’t fix the anything;
it just empowers it in a different way.

shawne wrote a follow up post on her own blog
explaining her position.
i encourage you to read both posts
and reflect on what art is supposed to do.

i’d also encourage you to think about how the internet works;
you may only see words on a screen,
and that can make people pretty brave with their comments.
but there are people on the other side
people who deserve respect.

so check yourself, bitches.

***this post reflects my thoughts and opinions only. i speak for no one else’s point of view than my own***

10 Responses to “a quilting controversy”

  1. Sally at Rivendale Farms Says:

    “making any word off limits doesn’t fix the anything;
    it just empowers it in a different way. ”

    That’s one of the most powerful things I’ve read in awhile, and I read some pretty good stuff.

  2. Frankie Says:

    “making any word off limits doesn’t fix the anything;
    it just empowers it in a different way.”

    That is so very true! Makes me think of banning books — like that ever worked. Any word can be hurtful when it’s purposely used to hurt but that doesn’t (or shouldn’t) give any word power on it’s own just because it exists. At least that’s how my little world works. Words are just words until they’re given life and intent.

  3. ELY Says:

    New reader here, and glad to have come across this post.

    What I found super interesting about the comments posted on the original whipup post was the general intolerance the majority of the writers showed towards these quilts that didn’t fit into their ideal of what quilting-art stands for. SO many of the commenters were obviously uncomfortable with Shawne’s quilt in particular as if she had no right to use fabric and thread to express herself as an artist!! The idea of quilts brings to mind comfort, and snuggling, visits to grandma’s house, and tradition, therefor I think incorporating this explosive word into a quilt was perfect- can you snuggle under it now, or does it make you feel uncomfortable to be marked with this word?!

    I think it makes a powerful statement.

    I’m repeating a comment from the other blog that I think bears repeating: people are uncomfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

  4. jafabrit Says:

    It takes courage to put one’s work out there, especially on such a sensitive subject. Somehow some people feel when they dislike something it gives them licence to be insulting and rude, but it speaks volumes about their character and illustrated the kind of ugly intolerance Chawne addressed in her quilt (not talking about the right to be offended and say so).

  5. Stephanie Says:

    all i can say is that i completely agree with you and thanks for introducing me to a new blog. like you, i can’t add another hobby, but appreciate quilting. especially the unconventional kind.

    i absolutely love your blog too. you’re hilarious and make beautiful things. that’s the best combo.

  6. Margaret Says:

    I agree with your post, and all the thoughtful comments I’ve read so far (1-6). Yes!

  7. Juliet in Grand Rapids Says:

    Art is about expression. Its purpose is to make one think. If you think, then success. There is always underlying truth.

    Offense can also make you think. There are so many truly offensive things: war, hunger, hate, judgment… an offensive word misses the point when there are so many offensive actions.

    My two cents.

    I just designed some amazing baby booby hats.

  8. dianestarkey Says:

    Indeed, words have power if you let them.

    I was wondering what sorts of reactions readers would have had to other controversial or hurtful words. I suppose context is everything. It definitely made me think about shock value in a different way.

    I was most surprised by all the dismissive and angry comments. Shunning a blog doesn’t make the post or the root problem go away – I think a lot of readers missed the point.


  9. cauchy09 Says:

    Steven, you are so f*cking awesome. This is the sweetest post ever. I am your newest fan.


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