Artwork by Kathy Nida
Could we have one more chat about Kathy Nida’s two artworks being pulled from a Studio Art Quilt Associates’ exhibit showing at an American Quilter’s Society Quilt Week before I return to our regularly scheduled programming? Thanks! (Please read more about the artwork and the kerfuffle on Kathy’s blog.).
You may be thinking that I and other artists and those who love art quilts are over-reacting. What’s the big deal? It’s just two art quilts that won’t be shown at what are considered to be quite traditional quilt venues.
But I’m very worried that the removal of Kathy’s artwork is just the tip of an iceberg that will quietly and surely threaten the gains art quilts have made to be accepted in the art world and the freedom we have as artists to talk about, in our art quilts, what’s important to us.
I’m going to say “Kathy’s art quilts” in the following scenarios, but substitute in your mind your or anyone else’s artwork that might contain something. anything that might offend someone, somewhere.
What about the next time Kathy’s art quilts comes up for jurying? Jurying is blind, but Kathy’s artwork is very distinctive (that’s one of the things I most love about it!) The juror (admittedly a poor specimen) hesitates for just a moment and thinks,”Oh, no, I’ve spent so much time thinking about and jurying this exhibit. If there’s controversy over this artwork, that’s all anyone is going to remember about it.”
A board is considering booking an exhibit in which Kathy’s art quilts are included. They hesitate, “Could someone be offended? Will there be controversy? Will that controversy drive away (paying) visitors?”
An artist thinks to herself, ” Will this artwork be difficult to exhibit because of . . .” I’m pretty sure the rest of the art world has accepted the human figure, male or female, clothed or not, as acceptable for general viewing for quite some time now. Ditto on myriad other non-issues in the art world. We shouldn’t be fighting these battles again unless we’re not really talking about art.
A more traditional quilt venue is considering booking a Studio Art Quilt Associates’ exhibit, “Let’s think a minute about that, remember what happened with that People and Portraits exhibit?”
Do you feel a chill?
I do. I have one foot in the lifeboat already and I’m thinking there is not going to be room for my beloved Bernina aboard our little rubber boat.
It’s art if it challenges and invites us to look at the world in new ways. We don’t have to accept or embrace the artist’s vision, but we should be able to appreciate that the artist is thinking about issues (race, gender, the environment, politics, etc., etc.) which really, truly matter or sharing a unique perspective on the world in which we all live.
Individual artist’s visions and how she/he expresses those visions might be controversial. That’s OK. In fact, it’s great. Art is, and has been for centuries, one of the best vehicles to engender conversation. Let’s keep art quilts in the conversation.
UPDATE: You could still protest per below, but I’m pretty sure AQS is not budging from their position. Here is something positive you can do – become more aware of artists’ rights. Leonie Hartley- Hoover shared these two very useful sites:
Know Your Rights: A Tool for Artists
What YOU Can Do: Use the addresses for the American Quilter’s Society provided in this well-reasoned and effective letter of protest written by Mary Beth Frezon. And don’t forget the power of social media by posting on FB: “American Quilter’s Society – Please reinstate Kathy Nida’s artworks to the Studio Art Quilt Associates’ exhibit “People and Portraits” currently showing at the AQS Quilt Weeks. #aqs