Friday, March 1, 2013

(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?

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If you don't know the origin of the blog post title, I recommend you google it.  Perhaps read the lyrics.  Get on the same page so you can catch what I'm throwin'.

I set out to write a blog post about the collaborative effort behind Victoria's Double Edged Love quilt and how and why I chose to quilt it the way I did.  However there are some things that are taking over my brain and I need to get them out.  I can give you all the scoop about the quilting soon.  For now, let's have a bit of a discussion, shall we?

QuiltCon >  Modern quilting >  Quilting >  Quilters >  People >  Humanity.  That's basically the train of thought that keeps repeating in my brain of late.

It all started with the Give A F*ck quilt that was exhibited at QuiltCon.  It is a quilt, it was made for a reason, and it happened to have the "f" word all over it.  Everyone had something to say about this quilt, and most things that have been said are not all that nice.  "eeeewwwwww", basically.  But with more insults.


The conversations around that quilt got me thinking about conversations that I either took part in, or lingered around before QuiltCon.  The conversations were about how QuiltCon would be such a boring show, pointless in some opinions, and full of elementary large color-block quilts with boring straight line quilting.  Okay.  Cool, dude.

Then the conversations went a step further to discuss the MQG exhibit at Houston, and how it didn't deserve to be there.  Huh. Yeah? Neat.  I sooo get that. 

First and foremost, I want to state that I am all for people having opinions because everyone is entitled to them.  However how can you possibly expect anyone to respect those opinions if you base them on nothing but stereotype (and while I'm on the subject, how about not epitomizing a whole other stereotype eh?), lack of knowledge of that which you're forming an opinion, bias, judgementalist thought and sometimes just downright lack of regard for anything other than the fact that you feel you have a right to say something?  I can't respect those opinions.  I can't respect the opinion of someone that thinks something shouldn't exist just because they don't like it.  I can't respect the opinion of someone that would rather talk down something that they haven't taken a single moment to understand.  I can't respect the opinion of someone that would put a person's character into question because of the type of art they choose to make/like/exhibit/buy/share/whatever.

Why has it become so impossible to stop and think about the things that we say to people?  Why has it become impossible to stop and think about things on a deeper level rather than *what is on the surface*?  Why does everyone feel the right to (attempt to) knock others down just for the sake of doing it?

Now, I've done a good job of keeping silent about a lot of things lately, but when it comes to bullying - and that's exactly what this is - you betchya I'm going to come forward and tell you how I feel about it.

Let's start with the Give A F*ck quilt and go from there, shall we?

First of all, the Give A F*ck quilt is - A QUILT.  It is a hand made item, a group effort even (hellooooooo community!), and it was made for a reason.  There was effort put into it.  The maker(s) was proud of it.  And it was dragged through the mud.  I really just don't understand this.  Maybe someone can help me out here.  Because last I checked, I really don't like Thimbleberries and Kansas Troubles at all.  But ya know what? You're totally allowed to use that stuff in your quilts if you so choose.  Will I tell you it's hideous? Nope.  Will I tell you that it doesn't deserve to exist because I don't like it?  Nope.  Will I tell you that you're a horrible person for making a quilt like that? HOW DARE YOU?!  Nope.  I don't hate quilts made with Kansas Troubles or Thimbleberries and I certainly don't hate the people that make them.  I just hate the fabric.  Cool?  Cool.  There is my completely non-offensive opinion that I expressed like an adult.

Now onto QuiltCon.  QuiltCon happened for a reason.  For any of you that were on the side of the discussion thinking that QuiltCon would suck, I really hope that you're ashamed of yourself (really, I do).  Why would QuiltCon suck but say, I don't know, any traditional quilt show not suck?  You clearly don't understand the modern quilt movement.  And that's okay.  You don't have to understand it.  You don't even have to like it.  But to say that it sucks? Who the hell do you think you are? What gives you the right?  As far as I'm concerned, I think the focus should be on the fact that there is a fabulous new serge of excitement about this industry that we all love so much.  Hand-made is important.  People making things is important.  Which automatically makes modern quilts important.  And quilt shows that showcase modern quilts important.  And the people that make those quilts important.  An opinion based on nothingness, of those people and their quilts and the shows that showcase them?  Hmmmkay, totally not all that important.

Now onto the MQG exhibit in Houston.  I believe one of the things said, and I'm really not even paraphrasing here, was that the MQG exhibit wasted square footage and took away from the quilts that "deserved" to be there.  Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow.  Balls.  Big ones.  That took really big balls.  It's sort of amusing that someone (or even several people) can think that their opinion is fact.  I mean, screw what some of the industry leaders think about it.  They know nothing! ----  Why would modern quilts not have a place in Houston?  Again, simply because you don't like(understand) them? Good story.

Simply put, if you don't like it, don't make it.  Is that so friggin hard? Different strokes, people.  And I hope you are finding the underlying point(s) I'm making here without me having to spell it out.

All quilts are made for a reason and tell some sort of story.  And all quilters' voices deserve to be heard regardless of how  they choose to label (or even refuse to label) their style.

Let's try to focus on the fact that we are all human beings and deserve to be treated as such.  It's getting (or more accurately, has been) ridiculous the way people are willing to treat others.  And really, when you say things to people like I've seen the last week or so, you really look like an ass.  For the record, I'm not actually calling anyone an ass, because I don't know enough to determine something like that.  Are you an ass? Maybe.  Maybe not.  But hey, *on the surface* - you sure do look like one.



  1. WOW! Thank you for this post Lisa! I couldn't agree more. I think that a lot of the negativity comes from a few places. A fear of change insecurity and honestly jealousy. Change will happen and people will always fear it and lash out. Sad.

  2. OMG Do I agree with you and Katrina! The fear of change brings out the worst in people all too often! That said, there are many more people who admire the quilter putting into fabric that which we think all to often about life and that which is going on. The quilt is a well thought out quilt people!!! It has a lot of love poured into it! If it was a painting there would not have been so much said of it.

    There, I've said my piece. Now I would love to hear about your quilting of the Best in Show quilt. It is amazing!

  3. Unfortunately in the past few years, there has been an awful lot of people thinking that their beliefs and opinions should be forced on others. I personally am sick of it. As far as the quilt world, this kind of stuff has always gone on - I mean, when I started quilting it wasn't okay to enter a machine quilted quilt into Houston or Paducah or any other big show. Yeah, talk to Caryl Bryer Fallert on that one. I just wish that there was a lot more "live and let live" goin' on... and THANKS! Now that song is stuck in my head. ;)

  4. Well said! I'm always finding myself saying: "Just because it's your opinion doesn't make it fact, and while you're certainly entitled to your opinion, I don't have to agree with you!" I love ALL quilting -- to paraphrase Will Rogers: "I never met a quilt I didn't like."

  5. Oh, and I LOVE your new header -- total awesomeness!!!!!

  6. Wonderful words, Lisa! Thank you!

  7. I used to say, "if it isn't hand quilted it's not a quilt."

    Are you shocked yet?

    Me, an award winning machine quilter.

    Yep. You read that right. This award winning machine quilter frequently spoke and believed that machine quilted quilts were not indeed quilts.

    Without going into a lot of detail an adjustment in my perception of quilting changed as I entered into the greater quilting world. Looking around SEEING, LOOKING and breathing in the depth and breadth of the quilting community.

    Whatever gets people quilting is fine with me. I have my personal likes and dislikes.

    I admit this in public - I've not always been kind about my likes and dislikes. I've learned as I've matured to keep a lot of comments to myself as they are not productive. My LIKES and DISLIKES do not matter. This quilter likes this style, those colors and is willing to put their quilts out there.

    If someone asks, that's a different story. As a teacher I think it's profoundly important to be the example, set the tone and guide quilters to understanding that every quilter, particularly newer quilters, is on a journey and it's not mine to be discourage them in any way.


  8. I think that you're exactly right. I also think it's funny that the same women (and men) who bemoan the loss of people interested in quilting will not accept that there are a ton of people out there who ARE sewing and quilting (hello to the entire DIY movement!) but because it's not fitting into the tried and true methods, it's not acceptable. Unless it's done according to their specifics, it doesn't count--and I think that's why you get the pushback like what happened at Houston and elsewhere. I think there's a healthy dose of real fear that the "traditional" (for lack of a better term) is going to be lost because the new kids don't care to preserve it. Which we all know is crap.
    Now, I take the long view because I was trained as a Classical archaeologist and art historian. Roman mosaics, greek pottery, Chinese and Japanese art, art from various African tribes... all have the *exact* same patterns as traditional quilts (flying geese, spirals, squares, HSTs, circles and semis, etc.)
    The way I think about it, we all recognize and speak a language of pattern as human beings, and how we put our quilts together is just a difference of dialect. It's like saying the language of one is superior to the language of another, which is BS (although who are we kidding, that's been done in the past, too, also because we are human beings... the trick is to rise above that).
    Unfortunately, I think the same kind of attitude was very present at QuiltCon, just turned around towards "the traditional". I found that to be very disheartening.

  9. True that.....AND I love your new blogpage design!!! :)

  10. GREAT post! I love the "experts" who are happy to give you their opinion whether you want it or not. Unfortunately (for them I guess) I happen to be very confrontational and I am also a very loud laugher. There is something I like in every quilt I see - even if it's only that it was made by a human. Grow up - get a life - even get a grip. And open your eyes to what's around you. Personally the modern quilt movement has affected all of my quilting from design to piecing to quilting to binding. And I love them for it. Even in a traditional quilt, I find myself adding something "modern" - frequently color. It's an evolving process and it's great!

  11. I loved one of the late comments on the thread in question. "Honey, that high horse you're on makes your ass look big."

  12. I saw this quilt in the photographs of Quiltcon before I saw any responses to it. I'm the first to say I don't like the F word; however, I liked this quilt from the start. It made me stop, look and ponder. I did not find it offensive, I LIKED it. But even if I hated it, wouldn't it have served its purpose? Isn't art supposed to make us stop, look, and ponder regardless? I liked the color, design and the fact that it called out to you to stop and study. I love the modern movement and incorporate much of it into my own quilts. I just wish it wasn't a separate movement, because we ALL have so much to learn on so many levels. I'm hesitant to go to a modern quilt guild locally because the pictures look like young women only and I don't want to cramp anyone's style, but I have much to learn still, and maybe a little to teach-I hope...not sure what though, we often don't know what we have for others to learn...but I digress. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    I'd like to add, that I love your site design, but for my older eyes the white letters on a gray background are hard to read. Peace!

  13. Quiltify, please don't not go because they look young! I belong to a traditional guild, a friends group where I am the youngest person by at *least* 20 years, and an art quilt group where the age gap is even larger We all learn from each other. My modern guild, while small, has anyone from early 20s to late 60s. You'd be welcome!

  14. I found your post really interesting and saddened to hear that the Quilt Con show and modern quilts were being disparaged. I've been quilting since about 1975 and have seen and sewn through many changes in the quilting world and each one has been inspiring. I've dabbled in many new techniques and fabrics. Through the years I've heard many quilt "rules", no black fabric in quilts, the quilt must have three borders(each larger in some consecutive order!),if you have prints you shouldn't put a solid with it as it's distracting, machine quilting is NOT quilting, etc, etc. I have almost always broken all these rules and made some darn nice quilts in the process. As a longarm quilter, I still occasionally hear that machine quilting is not real quilting and I just let it blow over me now. It is so wonderful to see new quilters and some not so new, to get all excited about this wonderful thing we call quilting.

  15. BOOM is right! Perfect, yes, yes, and oh, yes! My lack of opinion is just that... I love to look at quilts, ALL quilts, admire the stitching, fabrics, etc... I don't care if they are traditional, modern, post-modern, art, crap... they are beauty! GREAT post by the way!

  16. As Rodney King said, "Can't we all just get along?" There is room for every taste, fabric and style in the quilting community. But it's up to us all to be respectful of ech others opinions and quilts. You said it so much better!

  17. I just looked up the quilt in question and while it may not be to everyones liking it is still considered art. Anyone remember, "art is in the eye of the beholder" saying? When being creative, whether is be sewing, quilting, writing, painting, comes from the soul and while the artist is creating he/she is not worried about the rest of the world, they are listening to what is coming from within and this is PERSONAL. So when I'm doing something such as writing and pouring out my words, I'm not looking for opinion. If I give it to a friend or sister to read bc they have been asking to read my finished work, I'm hesitant. I don't want their opinion. I really don't because the piece is perfect to me and I don't care what they or anyone else has to say about it. Look, I criticize myself 10 times in an hour, I don't need anyone else helping me out with this. If we could all learn to just be kind to one another, the world would be a better place. If you don't like something you see or read...ok, that's your opinion. If your not asked, keep it to yourself but wouldn't it be better to find something, one little aspect of it and like it? Now was that so hard? So Lisa, I'm agreeing wholeheartedly with your blog and the others as well. I enjoy looking at everyone's accomplishments and I like to tell them when I see them do great things! I get ideas from admiring others, I'm encouraged by seeing someone succeed, it gives me hope that someday I might learn from this, etc.... The group on this thread, we all seem to be in the same boat with one another and that is refreshing to see such open minded individuals. Thank you. What's really funny-I just gave my opinion and it wasn't asked for it...

  18. VERY WELL PUT!! I may or may not agree with a quilt or even like a quilt but I would never say "Your Quilt Sucks" to anyone about any quilt. Believe me, as a beginner quilter, I have several quilts that kinda "suck" in my opinion, but who else has the right to tell me that unless I am quilting for another person and charging that person for quilting ? NO ONE!! I did go and take a peek at the quilt that starts with *F*. I honestly wish I could have seen it in person. I do not think any quilt show/venue "sucks". I really wanted to go to QuiltCon but couldn't get everything together to do it. I would love to be able to go to more shows. I am sure there are people who get to several a year, but I am not one of those people. I actually went to my first show a couple of weeks a go in Denver, had a great time with a friend, and learned a lot. I am always looking at online quilts and fabric. Doesn't mean I like everything I see. I know how to use the back and next buttons on my browser. Just go on....Lisa's shop is only 60 miles from me and I only get there a few times a year. I say Live and Let Live. If you don't like it, go somewhere else!!

  19. Complete agreement. While I do believe in absolute truth and definitive beauty, I don't think that I have the ability to be the arbiter of either one. I am one human in a long line of humans with lots of flaws and foibles that make me a big old mess. Sometimes my mess agrees with other people's messes, and sometimes it just makes a bigger mess.

    I keep working away at my mess. I trust others are working on theirs. And that we both are hoping to make the world a little less messy.

  20. I saw Chawne's quilt as she was getting the blocks in, and it was a marvel to see. But her other quilts are even more awesome, such as the Legitimate Rape quilt, or the Nigger quilt. And no, that is the name of it & you would have to see it in context to understand it. My personal favorite of hers is the You are so f*ing awesome quilt. She puts her art out there and makes no apologies-that is what an artist does. I wish I could have gone to QuiltCon, but just could not afford it this year-I'm saving up for 2015 though. I am older than most of the "modern quilters" out there, but I love a lot of the quilts coming out of the movement, I'm not much for mud hen colors, just my personal preference, but I've seen some beautiful quilts made with them. And even made one myself with a kit provided at a retreat, it is a beautiful quilt and I'm very proud of it. If everyone liked the same thing it would indeed be a very boring world. The old homily comes to mind, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Too bad more people don't adhere to it. Great post Lisa.

  21. I first started to read about all of this yesterday after Thomas' post, and was telling my mum, a 61-year-old non-quilter about it on the phone later on. When I got to the end she said, 'So let me get this straight, they're vilifying this woman because of the word fuck? How old are these people, have they never met the word before?!' (incidentally I swear my mother's language got worse the older I got, but I suspect there had just been a few years of suppression in there ;o) ) My dad just said 'Oh for fuck's sake!' Can't think where I get my language skills from *ahem*

    I find it interesting listening to the 'anti-modernists' on the whole modern quilting thing. I've been to the national quilt show here in Scotland a couple of times, making a drastic dent in their median age range, but their quilt displays are always very traditional. They are not usually to my taste colour wise, but there is some truly amazing work there, and I'd never think of castigating any of them. The other attendees get excited seeing someone young, but don't seem to want to see quilting evolve beyond what they know (and over here that's almost exclusively Thimbleberries and the like), there are proportionately very few modern quilters, but I think that's mainly because the few fabric shops we have that sell quilting fabric don't get in modern fabrics (catch 22, the customers want traditional, they don't want to risk getting anything that won't sell, so they don't attract anyone under about the age of 60!) Katy Jones is trying to rally us all into entering some quilt shows this year though, so hey, I can't complain there's nothing modern there if I haven't tried to change that, so I guess I'll suck it up and send something in.

  22. YOU GO GIRL. I push myself to try new styles, push the limits till they fall off the edge, and even made a modern quilt with an ugly piece of Thimbleberries, the title is "Donny and Marie." (You are too young to know the Osmonds.) It is all so good, and who ever doesn't like it, go F**k yourself. Love the topic, and the quilt and the links to other great blogs.

  23. I'm not religious by any means, but all I could think to say to this is Amen girl. I loved the Go F**k Yourself quilt at Quiltcon, and the F**k You Cancer quilt that was displayed right next to it. I can't even being to count the number of people who just walked past both quilts offended, and not even interested in reading the stories behind the two beautiful quilts.

  24. Well said.

    I don't get some people. I really don't.

  25. You said it all, Baby! BOOM.

  26. Boom, well said Lisa. I'm afraid that outspoken judgement has taken the place of Peace, Love and Harmony in this world of ours.

  27. Wow! I came over to learn more about you and I did! Oh, yes, I did! Thanks for articulating something that bothered me a bit while I was looking at the quilts. I was at the show just for two days, so didn't hear as much as you did, but I heard enough.

    I learned long ago that if you don't like someone's art, you don't say it right around that quilt because they might be there listening and that's just not polite.

  28. All I can say is this road has been trodden so many times- I had hoped we were past it. I started quilting in 1975 or 6, teacher told us that using a machine was unacceptable. We had to hand piece the bloody thing and only use repro fabrics and templates she drafted (and believe it or not she copyrighted!) Needless to say that didn't work for me and it took another few years before I saw fabulous original and machine done work incorporating unconventional materials and techniques and I started all over again doing what I wanted. There were 'quilt police' everywhere we went, telling us our edges were wonky or we used the wrong thread or, or, or... We collected rejection letters and laughed at them. That was in the early 80's. After that we simply learned to not go anywhere there were the 'police' patrolling. And that's when the success followed us.
    So, that's my advice to you- screw the nay-sayers, do what YOU want and how you want to do it. pass these words along. You do amazing work, and I wish you the best ahead. Keep telling yourself that they wouldn't let Sandy even piece by machine! What progress we can make when we keep our heads down and wait for the dinosaurs to roam off and die. Guess there is still a small batch or them out there, I will hope for a small meteor for you to bash them on their heads. Things never change, they just morph into other 'things'.

  29. Wow. First time to your blog. Got directed here by Bumble Beans blog to read about your quilting on her quilt. Man, did I get surprised. But in a good way. I saw the quilt in question on her blog a while back and have to say it did not offend me but caused me to laugh out loud. I do not understand all the "modern" quilts I see nor do I like all the traditional quilts. But isn't this art big enough for all of us. I teach quilt classes at a small shop and the main thing I focus on is the basic fundamentals. Some people try their best to strive for perfection and others just want to make quilts warts and all. Is one right and one wrong? No. Just different. Let's all just learn to embrace our differences and respect the design choices of others.

  30. Boom, indeed! I hope this quilt gets more of the positive press it deserves. I want to believe the haters are a very small group.

  31. i'm not a quilter, but when chawne asked me to contribute a square to her f*ck quilt, i embraced the challenge. it was a fun project, and it felt a little naughty, but it was also inspiring to have my square side by side with so many of my crafty friends. anyway, i've read a lot of comments from those who just don't get it, and i'm sad that it's become an issue. but whatever. fuck 'em. heh.

    1. I agree maryse, I did it for the challenge, but I have to admit I find the assumptions about intent and our moral character fascinating.It's as if they feel that being offended gives them a licence to demonize others. There is a reason there is ASS in assume ;)

  32. Good lord. I cannot believe there were so many negativee reactions to the quilt! I can't believe there were ANY negative reactions. I'm disappointed in those quilters who were so judgemental. I suppose anything that's actually art, and not just something pretty to look at, is threatening to some people. This quilt wasn't just a pretty face, it had a purposeful meaning.

  33. Thank you so much for this blog post, you summed it up exactly the way I feel! I belong to a traditional quilters blog, well a few, there were nasty comments posted on these sites, not cool! Me and a couple of other gals were in the minority for liking the Give a F* quilt. I definitely would've participated had I known there was a quilting community working on the project. I love the modern quilting movement, in fact I'll be checking out he next meeting in my area.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. OOOOPs, I meant traditional quilters yahoo groups and forums, not blog... ;o)

  34. WOW! Well said!

    This is so refreshing. If you run for public office, I'll vote for you. Thanks!!


  35. I looked online at the quilts from the MQS and was for the most part stunned by the beautiful quilting, fabric choices and clean, contemporary lines. That said, it has taken me a couple of years to REALLY appreciate the aesthetic of the Modern Quilt. As far as the F*** quilt -- it was startling, of course. BUT, when you looked behind what it meant, it was a perfect expression of the message. BTW, you are entitled to DISLIKE certain fabrics, Lord knows there are plenty I don't like, but HATE? Hate is a strong word, one that is acted out far too often today and should be used judiciously. Thanks for the blog!

  36. Only LOVE for ya, Girl!!! Well said!!!! Just had this conversation with a quilter yesterday. I am soooooo sick of people using "it's my opinion" as a free pass to be an ahole! It leads me to what I tell my 12 yr olds..."if you don't have anything nice to say, shut your piehole!" Maybe they should hang that sign at quilt shows??

  37. I thought the "Give a F*ck" quilt was brilliant. As soon as I saw the pictures, I was trying to find out if it was for sale. Sadly, it isn't for sale at the moment, but I'd buy it in a heartbeat if it was.

  38. I love quilting and anything artistic and can appreciate art in just about any form. I would never speak negative of someone's artistic ability or creation. Everyone here is agreeing that if you cannot say something nice then don't say it all...well, the F word is not nice.

    1. I totally agree...the F word is not nice, it is vulgarity. Choosing between good and evil will always be a choice in the world.

    2. But the F word is not being pointed at anyone in that quilt. It is simply a word. How can a word be "evil"?

    3. I think whenever that word is used (no matter the intent) it will for the most part get a negative response. I think it is only fair to expect the general response to be less than positive. As a mother of young children it would be a quilt I would, if possible, avoid letting them see.

  39. I feel that a lot of the criticism may come from a "job security" standpoint. Those who consider themselves leaders in the industry are afraid of seeing their positions usurped by younger people with new ideas. Get over it, people! If Karey Bresnahan can roll with the times, why can't they?
    Your posts are great, Lisa; the make me think. Thank you!

  40. I was surprised at a recent conversation about the give a f*ck quilt - one of the posters said that the people who made it were degenerates...ummm what? You can say you don't like a quilt, but to attack the makers that you don't know and call them degenerates?? Just plain crazy I say!

  41. I strongly believe that understanding is more important than love, especially when it comes to parenting and intimate relationships.
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  43. Goodness. The amount of spam around here is incredible!

    I agree. Everyone should be able to have an opinion without attacking someone personally. And I also think Thimbleberries has been overdone to the point of nausea.

    That said, I consider myself a modern quilter because I quilt with a sewing machine. And that's pretty darn modern, if you ask me! Other than that, I'm pretty traditional. Now if I ever get a minute to join a quilt guild, I'll probably see if the local modern one will take me. I've tried the traditional one and it bored me to tears.


  44. Hello :) I miss your blog - just stopping in to say I hope things are well for you - hoping your blog has been silent the past months because you're super busy and taking a blog break, and not because something terrible has happened. Wishing you well and hope it's a nice holiday weekend for you!

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