No Censorship at THIS quilt show!

The Tucson Quilters Guild Quilt Fiesta! 2017 is all over, but this one was even more interesting that usual for me. One of the show co-chairs confided in me that my entry Abuela Reads the Headlines caused some controversy at the quilt show.  Apparently at least two people asked that it be removed from the show show.  Here is a pic of the piece:

quilt by Mary Vaneecke
Abuela Reads the Headlines, 55” x 84”

I believe the controversial part is the 2015 headlines from mainstream media that appear on the quilt.  They are:

U.S. looks to detain more mother, child migrants, sometimes for months


Judge blasts ICE, says immigrant children, parents in detention centers should be released


Border detention of children shames America

And, what is for me, the kicker:

Cribs replace bunks at new immigrant detention center

But my quilt was not the only one to cause a stir.  My friend Sandy Lambert had an incredible piece called ‘Lest We Forget.’  It is entirely hand quilted and embroidered with quotations by Republican presidential candidates, along with tombstones with the various dates of their campaigns’ demise.

quilt by Sandy Lambert
Lest We Forget, by Sandy Lambert.


Lest We Forget, by Sandy Lambert, detail.


Lest We Forget, by Sandy Lambert, detail

Several people confronted the show co-chair, Reilly Zoda and asked (perhaps demanded?) that the quilts be removed from the show due to their political content.  She said that there was a Quilt of Valor at the show (and that was a political quilt), and a patriotic Baltimore Album quilt, and that was political, and if the show was going to censor political quilts, they would have to take them all down.  What a brilliant response.

I am so proud that the show chairs refused to remove the ‘offending’ quilts.   They were courageous in refusing to censor free expression at the show.  We all know women have long expressed their hopes, dreams, and political beliefs in quilts, and the Tucson Quilters’ Guild honored that part of our tradition this weekend.  The actions of the TQG stand in stark contrast the actions of the AQS over a quilt by Kathy Nida.  (If you are unfamiliar with the case, google it, or click here, here, and here.)

Our foremothers would be proud!

I am holding my breath, however.  I fear that this will be a hot topic at the next board meeting, and there may be a new policy in place for next year….  I will keep you posted.

I know from experience that the guild will hear 10 negative comments for each positive one.  If you agree with their decision to allow ‘political’ quilts in the show, please let them know!

24 thoughts on “No Censorship at THIS quilt show!

  1. Just came across this in a string of articles about social statements in quilts. I heartily applaud the Tucson Quilt Guild for displaying the quilts submitted, and facing down censorship (for what else could we call it?). I just don’t understand people who call for the removal of quilts that they don’t like. Move on!

  2. I’m in the UK and came upon this article after looking for the Boise peace quilts which so resonated with me in the 80’s when my children were small.
    I never saw the Tucson exhibition but feel that for generations women have used quilting to express feelings of love and loss, of their darkest moments, hopes and desires. Censorship is not doing anyone any favours. Quilters should not be less free today than yesterday. Please don’t take away the right to express opinions.

  3. Free speech is critical to protect our democracy-It is what makes a real democracy. Very happy to hear these quilts were not censored. Visual art is an important part of free speech. We all like different types of art and what I don’t like I walk by.

  4. I just saw this post and I am happy to have the opportunity to comment. I admire Mary and Sandy for making the quilts and entering them in the show. Both quilts were very thought provoking.

    I support the inclusion of political quilts in future Tucson Quilt Shows.

  5. Indeed, you not only have ‘arrived’, you’ve been there. Congratulations for having your voice heard!

  6. You should be proud – I know I would be art is one of the most powerful mediums and needs free expression in a world that claims to honor all. One of the roles of art is to discomfort the comfortable…

  7. The merits of each of these works based on composition, materials and techniques qualify them to be included in the exhibit. Content should not be an element of judgement in an open show. Artists speak through their art.
    Congratulations to the coordinators for their actions and answers.

  8. I like both quilts and highly endorse them both.It is so sad when people try to censure art. I think Gerry,Caroline and Deborah made wonderful points.

  9. I know both these fine artist and feel that their work is a form Art and not to be judge by its context …These people need to go to some famous museums and stand back and take a long hard look. They didn’t censor the MASTERS …..

  10. I remember Sandy’s being obviously political, and not to my political leanings. Didn’t right off see that yours was, I focused on the colors. However, it would seem to me that quilts are an expression of opinion and should come under freedom of speech. If this comes to a vote for the general group, I definitely vote against censorship of the quilts.
    This isn’t the first year we’ve had politics in quilting. Why the new attitude? Caroline

    1. I totally agree, Caroline. I would never ask that a quilt be removed from a show because I didn’t agree with it, and I be sure to take a good look at it to try to understand it. If a piece of arts starts a conversation, or brings people closer to an understanding, that is great!

  11. These are both outstanding quilts, and I am proud that the chairperson responded as she did. Censorship has no place in art. People who don’t care for a quilt … any quilt … can choose to pass it by and not vote for it.

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