Tag: political quilts

Unravelling:  The Case for Reparations

Unravelling: The Case for Reparations

This piece was completed just in time for the call for submissions to the We Are the Story exhibition at the Textile Center in Minneapolis, MN.  I was thrilled that Unravelling is part of the Racism: In the Face of Hate, We Resist portion of the show.  The exhibit is curated by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi and is getting a lot of buzz.

The quote is by William Faulkner, one of our greatest writers, and one of the first sons of the American South to feature relationships between black and white characters in his fiction. As flawed as Faulkner was on issues of race, his words very succinctly describe why we must work today to make amends for the systemic racism in our country today.    For an ‘antiracist reading list,’ click here. 

Materials:  flags, woven and whitewashed, fusible web, hand-painted non-woven, felt, cotton backing, thread.

Unravelling: The Case for Reparations, by Mary Vaneecke, 2020, 41” x 37”

UnRavelling is a sister quilt to (White) Silence is Violence), which is also in the show.  This piece was made in 2018 and is now in a private collection.

(White) Silence is Violence, by Mary Vaneecke 2018

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!

Subversive Stitching is Alive and Well in San Jose

I just had to tell you all about my all-to-brief trip to the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles.  I was invited to give my artist talk, Confessions of a Subversive Stitcher, on the closing weekend of Art Cloth Network’s Anything Goes show.  My fellow ACN member Connie Tiegel picked me up at the airport–and brought cake for the reception!  I had never been to the museum, and I was so eager to see how it compares to some of the other quilt museums I have been to.

The first thing I noticed was the space.  The galleries are incredible!  There are multiple large galleries with great lighting, and tall, tall ceilings.  They highlighted another show, THE CALIFORNIA ART QUILT REVOLUTION: FROM THE SUMMER OF LOVE TO THE NEW MILLENNIUM.  That show included work from Kathleen Sharp, who currently resides in my hometown, Tucson.  The show was an eye opener for me.  Did you know, for instance, that subversive stitchers were quilting with dryer lint back in the 70s and 80s? I did not know that!

I was able to tag along on a tour the Curator of Collections Nancy Bavor gave of the ‘back room.’  We saw lots of acid-free boxes neatly labeled with accession numbers and such and learned the rare circumstances under which a piece can be de-accessioned.  There was an area where all incoming textiles were quarantined for 2 weeks before being unpacked.  Why?  Bugs!  Nancy looks for any evidence of insects that could infest the rest of the collection before they can do any damage. Who knew? Nancy is also a quilt historian, and was kind enough to compliment me on my knowledge of quilt history.  It’s an important part of my talk, so I was relieved to hear it.

Curator of Collections Nancy Bavor and I chat at the closing reception of Anything goes at the SJMQT.

The Executive Director, Joan Phillips, is delightful.  She is so enthusiastic about the museum’s greater focus on art quilts, including political works.  The museum has big plans and is growing, it now has its second artist-in-residence, Cristina Velazquez.  I met her was able to see some of her knitted work.  Check her out on Instragram here.

Anything Goes looked fabulous in person.  The next best thing is to click on the link and see the show digitally.  Its next stop is the Kirkland Arts Center in Clinton, NY. Be there, or be square!

Let us eat cake!