Archive for August, 2016

I Feel A Chill: The Tip of the Iceberg


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






08 2016

Censorship is never good nor right


Artwork by Kathy Nida

Who knew art quilts could be so subversive that they would need to be banned?  That’s just what happened to artist Kathy Nida.  Kathy’s work has naked people, so don’t click the link if that bothers you. Kathy’s post has all the details of what this situation is all about.  Except for the fact that both of her works have now been shipped back so no one on the American Quilter’s Society Quilt Week circuit will ever see them.  All because one person complained.

I want to speak out against the removal of her artwork for two reasons.  The organization refusing to show Kathy’s artwork is the American Quilter’s Society. This is also the organization through which the National Quilt Museum has chosen to tour the Gala of the Unexpected exhibit of which my artwork is part. I am embarrassed that my artwork is being shown by an organization that is willing to remove artwork rather than try to make a complaint into a teachable moment about the power and value of art.

The second reason is that censorship is never good nor right.  Here’s a great general description of what censorship is from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Thank you, Kathy Loomis, for pointing out that censorship is unconstitutional only when carried out by the government.  But as the ACLU page notes, private censorship is “best countered by groups and individuals speaking out and organizing in defense of the threatened expression.”  That’s us!

Kathy Nida’s graphic rendition of the human condition may not be for everyone, but to me it seems that artwork engendering discussion should be given a place of honor, rather than removed.

Please contact the American Quilter’s Society today from this page and let them know politely that the removal of Kathy Nida’s artwork should be re-considered and reversed.. Or use the addresses 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 and your own blog.


08 2016

My Dream Collection – SAQA Benefit Auction

Dream Collection2016

Studio Art Quilt Associates’ Benefit Auction kicks-off at 2pm EDT on September 16, but you are able to preview all the more than 400 donated artworks here (with much bigger photos available by clicking for more info) or peruse it by checking out six artworks chosen as Dream Collections. All the Dream Collections are here.

I chose my Dream Collection with the theme of Intriguingly Neutral : All of these artworks read as neutral, but I would love to have all of them on my walls as there would be something new to see in them every day:






According to SAQA:
September 16 Diamond Day bidding – an early bird opportunity to purchase ANY quilt for $1000. The 12″ x12″ Auction Quilts will be divided up into three sections for bidding purposes. Each week, a different section of quilts will be available for bidding, starting at $750 and further reduced throughout the week.    

This is your chance to own beautiful, unique art quilts by some of the world’s finest artists. Plus, your purchases help increase the recognition for art quilts and the artists who make them while supporting SAQA’s exhibitions, publications, and education outreach.

I am a proud juried artist member of SAQA and donate artwork to the smaller Spotlight Auction at the annual conference.  But I always hope to add to my collection during this great event.




08 2016

Celebrating the Midwest with Color and Texture


Virginia A. Spiegel
40×40 inches
Photo by Deidre Adams

Midwest, a new artwork, will exhibit in Stitched Together,  a juried regional Il/WI Studio Art Quilt Associates’ exhibit touring in 2017 and 2018.  See all the accepted work here.


Midwest – Detail
Materials:  White cotton fabric painted with acrylic textile paint,
polyester fabric, ink, batting, rayon and polyester thread,
miniature paper fasteners.

I really do love the Midwest as you can probably tell from my artist’s statement for this artwork:

My husband and I travel frequently between Illinois and Wisconsin, visiting family.  I never fail to exclaim [100% TRUE!] at the top of one certain hill, ” It’s so beautiful.” Spread below me is a tapestry of red barns, fallow fields etched with stubble, and green fields woven with this year’s crops.  What could be more Midwestern than that? 


Midwest – Detail 2
Techniques:  Machine piece, machine quilt, hand applique,
paint, punch, fasten, letter, screen print, ink, spatter

I am currently infatuated with miniature paper fasteners – see Moose Bay.  Here I used them to reference the yard light with which no farm would be without.  The blue/green divisions between the fields are hard to see without high res photos, but are painted batting. Texture, texture, texture.



08 2016