The Threads of Resistance art quilt exhibition was organized by the Artists’ Alliance.
Our statement begins:
“Art has always expressed both the hope and fear of its time. As artists speaking through our quilts, we come from a long tradition of political activism. The first known fundraising quilt supported the abolition of slavery. Quilts through the past two centuries have spoken to many causes, including the Temperance movement, women’s suffrage, nuclear proliferation, and AIDS awareness.
Just as quilts are traditional symbols of comfort and healing, our art can help us unite as Americans. Our quilts let the fearful know they are not alone and isolated in their struggles. Our quilts can inspire us to be greater and braver than we think we are. Our art speaks for those who are oppressed and have no voice.”
Not everyone will approve of this exhibition. I understand and respect this. As a member of the Artist’s Alliance, I think it’s important to acknowledge my support for the project. No matter how you feel about the project politically, consider visiting our website and listen to statements from artists whose work was accepted for exhibition.
It’s also important to know a couple of other things about the project:
- Not all work was accepted, but the opportunity to show all entries on the website, was offered. Important to know that not everyone agreed to this. Yes, some artists have been threatened and chastised for participating, which led to fearful withdrawal. That feels very wrong.
- Others have withdrawn because of complicated and challenging copyright issues. The members of the Artist’s Alliance who dealt with copyright issues took the laws seriously. They have invested a great deal of time and energy to do the best they could to get this right; protecting artist entrants, but also protecting the host organization.
- There are mean-spirited comments and blogposts from conservative individuals (and quilt makers) and I guess that’s not a surprise. We all know ugliness can come out of any mouth. No political party has a corner on that market, as we have seen this week after the shooting of a GOP congressman. Evil is not political.
What I wish we could do next?
Organize an exhibition entitled Openminded: The Best of Both Sides.
The rules might read something like this:
- Before beginning any planning for your quilt, think of someone you don’t understand or even someone you dislike. Send them loving thoughts for one minute. Suspend judgment. Hope someone is doing the same thing for you. Start each day in the studio with this activity. Allow it to be a sort of prayer.
- Think carefully about your theme before you begin. Let all the anger you feel rise up and FEEL it. Write it down if you need to. Don’t let it get away. Anger is a useful tool that propels strong artwork forward.
- Temper your anger. Design your art work to reflect your message as accurately as you can.
Ask yourself these valuable questions:
How can I get my message across without ridicule or meanness? There’s a difference between having and espousing an opinion, and sinking into personal invective. How can a message be delivered as respectfully as possible? Without name calling or insults.
It seems to me that if we played by the above rules as often as possible, we wouldn’t get into the snake pit as often as we do. For example, I am not a Trump supporter, but out of respect for another human being, I will never call him names or refer to his hair, his hands, or his other physical attributes mockingly. Enlightened people don’t use that kind of language or those tactics to disparage other human beings.
I guess the Golden Rule applies. Even when there are heartfelt and critical differences of opinion.
So, now you know how I feel. And these are definitely my opinions and do not necessarily reflect the esteemed group of which I am a member. Let’s be clear about that.
I urge you to listen to the recorded statements from the TOR artists. You may or may not agree with everything that’s said, or with every visual. But let’s cultivate the high road and keep communication open. Our futures depend upon it.
If you would like to be entered into a drawing for a copy of the Exhibition Catalog, please leave a comment below.