Saturday, February 25, 2017

My thoughts: Judy Coates Perez

This post was written by Judy Coates Perez. It is one in a series of posts by members of The Artist Circle, explaining why we organized the Threads of Resistance exhibition, and our feelings about the role of art and artists in our democracy. Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. 

If you’re on Facebook you’ve probably already heard about a new exhibit opportunity called Threads of Resistance organized by a group I belong to called the Artists Circle. This is an opportunity to create textile art that will go on tour throughout the US over the next 2 years, with 12 venues already on the schedule, and opening at the New England Quilt Museum on July 15th. I encourage you to read our mission statement for the exhibit.
 
This all began a couple weeks ago, when several friends and I were discussing how stressed out we’ve felt since the inauguration in a private group on Facebook. Before long we began talking about making artwork to process our feelings, which then led to the idea for an exhibit.

I think many of us feel like we have no voice in a situation where policy is being put in place on a daily basis, that’s in direct opposition to America’s moral fiber. Sorry if you disagree with this belief, but my understanding is that America was founded on equality and justice for all, not just financially comfortable white people. And no matter how many red flags go up, and ‘REAL’ news stories are broadcast, (ones that would typically have taken down a democrat in power 10 times over for even the slightest of these infractions) NOTHING changes. The feeling of powerlessness to stop the wheels that have been set in motion is palpable.


For the most part, my work always has a story behind it and many of my art quilts have been cathartic in nature, especially over the last 8 years. I find making art incredibly healing, you can read an article I wrote about that process here and you may remember a couple months ago, after the election, when I was so filled with despair, I started making prayer flags to find some peace of mind.


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“Being an artist means forever healing your own wounds and at the same time endlessly exposing them.”  ― Annette Messager
I get why so many Americans felt left out of the recovery from the recession, I’m one of them. My ex and I lost our home and life savings and will never fully recover from everything we lost, but I don’t blame the democrats. I blame the drastic economic shift in wealth that happened during the recession, aided by Wall street. I blame the CEO’s of banks that pocketed money the government gave them to help people like us with modifications on our loans, by giving themselves astronomical bonuses instead. The ultimate gall is to see 45 appoint someone who profited from the foreclosure on thousands to a position in charge of the economy.

Getting ahead is not about how hard you work, the hardest workers in this country are most often the poorest. The truth is money makes money, and when you don’t have it, it’s nearly impossible to climb back out of the hole of poverty. So why would I trust a “billionaire” who doesn’t pay his workers, (or taxes!) and instead files bankruptcy to avoid his debts? He is far from being a friend of the working class.

Never in my lifetime did I think we would have white supremacists in a place of power and influence in the United States. That is terrifying on so many levels!

In regards to that and the economy, we certainly don’t want to deport all our immigrants. Do you think Americans are going to do the back breaking labor of agricultural workers, especially at a pay scale that still makes food affordable for the rest of the country?


Our planet is in jeopardy. I don’t know about you, but I like clean air, safe drinking water, and want to protect the health and welfare of people. Our future should be working towards clean technologies, protecting national parks and environments, and not making nefarious oil barons wealthier. We have rules against profiting from policies while being in a government office, that are blatantly being ignored.

We have a president with the communication skills of a 3rd grader, and the inappropriate behavior of a lascivious adolescent. He’s a narcissist and a pathological liar.  He even boldly lies about things we can see with our own eyes aren’t there, and thinks we should believe something’s true because he says it is? I don’t think so! He has proved himself untrustworthy. Why else would there be national security leaks? They are going over his head to inform the American people of his dangerous behavior and policies.

In the mean time, he’s trying to reduce our trust in the judicial system, along with valid news sources like any authoritarian dictator. Thank god for our hard working news outlets, they are our daily check on reality in the dystopian twilight zone of present day America.

The hardest part of this, is watching the republicans not lift a finger to stop the injustices that are happening. They’re more concerned with getting their policies passed and saving their jobs, than our country. I realize by speaking out and making work that may be inflammatory, that I too am jeopardizing my ability to work in a job I love, but I think doing nothing and staying silent in the face of losing our democracy, is a far worse offense.

Obviously, I’m angry, and afraid, and so I’m going to make art about it. I’ll tell you now, it won’t be pretty, I’ve been haunted by an image that came to me the morning after the election, and this exhibit feels like the impetus I’ve needed to put it on fabric.
“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” – Cesar Cruz
If you’d like to submit work to Threads of Resistance, the call for entries is here and there is also a Facebook page you can follow and submit inquiries, if you have them. We are determined to keep it a troll free zone.

Monday, February 20, 2017

My thoughts: Sue Bleiweiss

This post was written by Sue Bleiweiss. It is one in a series of posts by members of The Artist Circle, explaining why we organized the Threads of Resistance exhibition, and our feelings about the role of art and artists in our democracy. Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.


I worked on writing this post for over a week.  Why you ask?  Because I’m going to wade into a subject that up until a week or so ago I have been silent on - yup I’m going to talk politics.  Now I know this is going to come as an unexpected (and for some of you unwelcome) surprise because you’re used to seeing me post pictures of colorful whimsical art and talking about things related to being an artist and I promise that I will continue to do that but for today I’m going to talk a little politics.  Those who know me well, know that I am by nature a very private person who
isn’t all that comfortable sharing my views on things not related to art on my blog or on my social media accounts but I’ve reached a point where I just can’t stay silent any longer.  It’s time to stand and speak because what’s going on in our country right now, this day, this moment is deeply troubling.  The levels of divide, hate and fear are at levels that I’ve never seen before and I find it very distressing. 

Last week I experienced quite a bit of that hate and fear when I posted on my facebook page about my involvement in the Threads of Resistance exhibit and I’m still befuddled by the amount of anger that was hurled my way because of it.  I am proud to be one of the organizers of the exhibit.  What better way is their for artists to express their views on a subject than by making a piece of art?  There is a long history of artists using art as a medium to expressing their displeasure with politics, economic, environmental and social injustices.  But when I posted about my involvement with the Threads of Resistance exhibition I got a lot of negative responses filled with hate and rage over the idea of using the art quilt as a medium to express my views.  I was told that I was spreading hate, that I should be ashamed to protest the new president in his first weeks of office, to give him a chance (anybody who suggests this is clearly getting their news from reliable sources), I should go to another country where I don’t have any rights, that I was a “stupid idiot” and a few other things that I won’t repeat here.

Suffice to say that I was pretty taken aback by some of the comments and what struck me first was that these people who were accusing me of dividing the country, promoting hate and fear sent me emails filled with hate and vitriol - the very thing they were accusing me of.  Now I think we can all agree that right now the country is suffering in a lot of ways and depending on which side of the fence you are sitting on you may or may not agree with me on how and why it’s suffering.  And that’s fine because we’re all entitled to our opinions but what we should be able to agree on is that name calling, bullying and emails filled with hateful words are not going to help. 

I am dismayed at the direction that the current White House administration is taking the country.  I am afraid for the environment, womens reproductive rights, refugees, the idea of lies and fake news becoming the norm and a whole lot of other issues - a list that is sadly too long to go into here.  But instead of retreating to my studio, burying my head in a pile of fabric I’ve decided to stand, make my positions known and resist the temptation to shrug it all of and become complacent and accept it all.  There is too much at stake to do that and one of the ways that I’ll do that is through my involvement with the Threads of Resistance Exhibit.

Art is man's challenge to time, his rebuke to chaos; the protest will survive neither the triumph of fire, nor the finality of ice — but it is better than the silence of consent. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer
 

Friday, February 17, 2017

My thoughts: Susan Brubaker Knapp

This post was written by Susan Brubaker Knapp. It is the first in a series of posts by members of The Artist Circle, explaining why we organized the Threads of Resistance exhibition, and our feelings about the role of art and artists in our democracy. Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. 


“When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive creature. He becomes interesting to other people. He disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and opens ways for better understanding. Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he opens it and shows there are still more pages possible.” – Robert Henri

Most of my art is “pretty.” I like showing people the miracles I see in the natural world. I think that is because at heart, I am an optimist. I choose to turn my face to the light. Even in troubling times, I try very hard to keep my chin up. 

It’s been hard lately. I look at my country, which I love so much, and I see so much discord and hate and fear. So much failure to communicate. I believe that if we do not figure out how to start listening and talking to each other, our country is doomed. And I believe that art is an essential part of communication.

I am a complex person, and there is more to me than my beautiful fiber art and photographs. I know who I am. I have strong emotions and strong opinions. And I am not afraid to speak them. This, apparently, makes some people angry. Very, very angry.

When I posted the Call for Entries for “Threads of Resistance” on social media, and each time I posted updates, I got nasty comments. Some contained offensive names for our former president, mocked Hillary Clinton, and dripped with vitriol, with tones by turn scornful, angry and jeering. Sadly, the long presidential campaign season has hardened me to this kind of language. It is the language of Donald J. Trump, now made acceptable, and echoed by millions of Americans. I expected it. Im used to it by now. 

What did baffle me were the comments that basically told me that my role was to provide eye candy and keep my mouth shut. That I was using my “platform” to undermine the government,” that quilting and politics should never mix, that I was making people sad or disturbing the sanctity of the peaceful quilting community. Or that I was being unpatriotic by not completely supporting the president or “giving him a chance.”

Ummmmm.... what? Here are my thoughts on those points:

1. It is not my job – or the job of any artist – to make pretty pictures that make people happy. Sure, I do that most of the time. But I also don’t put my head in the sand and ignore what is happening around me. I make art about what moves me emotionally, what I am passionate about. Yes, I keep my face to the light. But I will not ignore the creeping shadows.

2. Quilts can be art. Throughout history, artists have used their work to protest. For a quick look at some protest art, try googling "protest art" images. Women, who have throughout history had fewer options available to them, have long protested in their needlework – embroidery and quilts. One could argue that Betsy Rossfirst American flag was protest art. Women have made quilts in the cause of many protests: temperance, women's suffrage, reproductive rights, anti-war, and civil rights.  
 
 3. Telling me to keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself is flat-out intimidation, and it is wrong. It is especially wrong if it is said in a rude or threatening way. It would be very easy for me to keep my mouth shut right now. I am taking a risk, and I know it. I am willing to do it because I think the risks – to me, to my children, to Americans, and to democracy itself – of not speaking out are greater. If I dont speak out, I am complicit.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
– Martin Niemoller (1892-1984), pastor and outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler

4. Protest is patriotic. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official.If Americans had not chosen to protest, we would still be a colony of England. We would still have slavery. People of color and women would not have the right to vote. “Coloredswould still be using separate drinking fountains and bathrooms and going to separate schools. People would not have the right to marry the people they love, regardless of gender. The list goes on and on...

I am not advocating a violent overturn of the government. (One of the commenters suggested that I sided with Madonna, who said that she thought about blowing up the White House. I do not; I think her remark was wrong.) I am merely exercising my right to speak freely through art – a right given to me as an American under the First Amendment:


“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”


When things that are important to me come under fire – truth, a free press, religious freedom and separation of church and state, the influence of hate groups in government, to name a few – I will always speak up. 



• • • • • 

At its core, art is communication. It is an artist’s way of saying, “Look at this! Please… see what I see!” Sometimes that is beauty. Sometimes it is pain. Sometimes it is a viewpoint. It is my hope that the fiber art in the “Threads of Resistance” exhibition will make people think, make people feel, make people consider another perspective.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Another venue

We are pleased to announce a twelfth venue (!!!) for Threads of Resistance:

August 3-24, 2018
Experience Fiber Art
 
The Wilder Building
Rochester, New York


As of this posting, Threads of Resistance is scheduled to be exhibited in ten states!

If you are planning to visit the exhibition at this venue, make sure to leave some extra time. Rochester, NY, is home to the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, where the suffragette and civil rights leader lived and died, and her grave in Mount Hope Cemetery. The Women’s Rights National Historic Park and the National Women’s Hall of Fame are in nearby Seneca Falls, NY.

Online entry is open today!

Registration is now open on our online entry system for “Threads of Resistance.” The website to enter is http://threadsofresistanceentry.com and registration will be open until midnight on May 1, 2017.

This site also has guidelines for taking good photos of your work, and you can preview the forms to see exactly what you’ll need to prepare before you start the entry process.

Photography tips

  • Good photography is very important. Work is not accepted because of poor photography than for almost every other reason. The jurors can’t judge your work if they can’t see it clearly. 
  • Take a picture of your quilt straight on, with the edges showing on the background, which could be a design wall, a piece of black fabric or another color that shows off the sides of your piece.
  • Straight pins should not be visible in the photo.
  • The online entry system requires one photo of the entire quilt, and one detail shot. Both should be shot in high resolution (300 dpi).
  • Make sure that the piece is in vertical format and is going the right direction on the full and detail shot.  
  • The detail shot should be the best one that shows us a specific detail of what you most want us to see. 
  • Please do not use color correction, as we need to see the true colors in your photographs (the colors in the photos should match the colors in your artwork.)
  • Digital images must be saved as a high quality JPEG file (No TIFF files). 
  • Finished images should be between 2100 and 4200 pixels on the longest side. 

Frequently asked questions  

NOTE: Please see the FAQ page (tab at the top of the website) for an updated list of FAQs and answers. 

Do you accept entries from outside the U.S.? Yes. But artists from outside the U.S. will be required to pay for shipping their work back to their countries, in addition to shipping them to the first U.S. venue.

Do you accept three-dimensional work like sculptures? No, it is not eligible, due to shipping concerns and shipping costs. 


Can my piece have embellishments (such as safety pins) that stick out from the surface? Embellishments are permitted, but they can’t be sharp or pointed, or stand out from the surface more than 1". They must be securely attached. We will be shipping the art between venues either stacked or rolled, and we don’t want them to damage other artists’ work in transit

My piece can’t accommodate a 4" sleeve; is that okay? No, it must have a 4" sleeve on the back. We can’t accept pieces that are framed, mounted, or that have wooden slats or other hanging systems. The exhibition is traveling to 11 venues (possibly more), and we need consistency for shipping and hanging at the venues, which include both traditional quilt shows and museums. 

Do you accept other types of fiber art, such as felted work or weavings? Yes; all types of fiber art are eligible for entry, but all work must be able to hang using a 4" hanging sleeve, and must not contain sharp or fragile embellishments.

Do you accept group quilts? Yes. There is a space in the online entry form to list all of the makers.

Do you accept anonymous entries? No.

Are artists allowed to sell their work in the exhibition, and will “Threads of Resistance” handle sales? Each venue has its own commission structure regarding sales ranging from taking 20% -50% of the sale price. In the event of a sale, you will be notified by the venue who will process the sale for you. Threads of Resistance will not take any commission on artwork sold. You may choose to mark your work “Not for sale.”

How long will it be before I get my work back? Artwork must remain in the exhibition until such time as it is done traveling. At this point, we have it booked to run through October 2018, but we may add additional venues.

How many pieces will be chosen? We are still working with the venues to determine this, based on space available at each venue.

If my piece is not chosen for the exhibition, will it still be featured on the blog/website? Depending on the volume of work submitted, and the number of pieces that the exhibition ends up including, we may decide to feature work on the website that is not chosen for the exhibition. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Our answer to the question why?

Over the past week we have received a lot of questions asking why we are organizing the Threads of Resistance exhibition and what we hope to achieve with it.  We hope the following statement answers those questions...

 "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

We as the Artist’s Circle stand for unity and love and light. We believe we have a duty as citizens of this country to shine light into dark places. We feel we must stand to preserve the good in America and speak against oppression and corruption, hatred and lies.

History is a written record of human behavior.
Art is a record of human emotion.
Quilts are art.

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.

Through much of history, quilts were one of the only acceptable means of expression for women whose political voices were silenced. Sometimes art must shock us out of our comfort zone and into action. In this venue, these quilts are also giving voice to emotions and ideas that for too long have been deemed unacceptable if spoken by women. Here, as women and men united, we speak together. Because of our love for our country, silence is no longer an option.

Americans are feeling a mixture of hope and anger, love and fear. We take issue with the divisive actions of the Trump administration. Our art explores our emotional responses to these actions, in the hope that it will encourage civilized, constructive conversation and, ultimately, better understanding of one another's viewpoints.

“Ye cannot live for yourselves; a thousand fibers connect you with your fellow-men, and along those fibers, as along sympathetic threads, run your actions as causes, and return to you as effects.” 
Rev. Henry Melvill, written in 1853

The Artist Circle
Sue Bleiweiss
Susan Brubaker Knapp
Judy Coates-Perez
Jane Dunnewold
Victoria Findlay Wolfe
Jamie Fingal
Lyric Montgomery Kinard
Melanie Testa
Leslie Tucker Jenison
Kathy York

New venue added to the exhibition schedule

We are thrilled to announce that the Threads of Resistance exhibit will be on display at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton MA from December 9, 2017 to February 18, 2018.  The opening reception on January 21, 2018 will coincide with the one year anniversary of the Women's March the opening of the museums Pussyhat project.  


Exhibition dates: 12/9/17 - 2/18/18
Fuller Craft Museum
455 Oak Street, Brockton, MA 02301
Brockton MA

Opening reception: 1/21/18 

Please click here to see the entire schedule for the Threads of Resistance exhibit.