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


  1. Sue, Thank you for being brave. Thank you for speaking your truth. I relate to you, having been a person who didn't talk politics on social media until recently when I realized I don't have the luxury to be silent any longer. I don't think our current President intends for the social backlash of involvement, but thank goodness it is happening.

    I have not had the replies of anger that you have had, probably because I am less well known. I do know that my circle of friends includes women who dismay me by their opinions, but I will not argue directly with them or tell them they are wrong. I will simply stand up and say my truth.

    I look forward to seeing the exhibit and I hope my quilt is included. I hope yours is, too. Best Regards.

  2. Thank you for standing up to be counted. It gives hope in these sad days.

  3. Thank you, Sue, for sharing your concerns. If there is a positive to these challenging times, it is that people are speaking up, and calling out the injustices.

  4. I have 5, soon to be 6, granddaughters. There was enough to worry about as they grow, and now...ONE man has changed it. Says it's ok, boys, be an A**hole. NO NO NO.

    On the other hand, I was sooo PROUD to see my fellow women march PEACEFULLY. YES!

  5. I am somebody who is a nobody. I feel frustrated that my little voice cannot be heard. Living in Indiana I am frustrated that my vote did not make a difference. This movement is so important to "nobodies" like me. Threads of Resistance and other such groups give our voices meaning, give us encouragement that there IS a way for our voices to be heard. Stay strong ladies and SPEAK OUT!!

    1. Carol, I'm also in Indiana - Southern Indiana and am too frustrated. But this is an important movement to be part of.

  6. Politics is the personal. The personal is political. Brava on taking your place in the world.

  7. Thank you, Sue! You have very eloquently said all the things that I have been feeling. We are all singly, "nobodies" with no voice. But if you get enough of us together, we might be heard. I am so sorry that you have met with so much vitriol. Stay strong!

  8. Thank you ... know you are not alone and your cause is just

  9. I, too, have decided I'm going to have to publicly take a stand. I SO appreciate your words. Every time I try to express my political opinion (without being hateful or threatening), many of the responses come off as VERY hateful, bullying, threatening, etc. I'm tired of being silent. I have my "Threads of Resistance" quilt planned.

  10. Thank you! I have just started working on my quilt.

  11. When I saw your Call for Entries, I was so excited to see such a great opportunity to express our feelings about what is happening to this country at this time. I do a newsletter for a creative quilt group, and I also have write access to the website to add "Local Events" and "Calls for Entries." I immediately added your Call to the guild's website. I was shocked when I received a note from the webmistress telling me that some people may be offended by the subject matter, especially because it is so one-sided. This was brought up at the board meeting and it was unanimously decided to remove it from the website. As I said earlier, I was Shocked!
    One thing I've always enjoyed about art quilters is their willingness to express their political (and other) feelings and experiences without apology. Why the guild I belong to felt the need to censor a "Call for Entries" leads me to question the direction this group is headed. I may need to resign from this guild and find one more open.
    Thank you so much for creating this opportunity. I hope to get a quilt done in time to submit it.
    Keep the Faith, Baby!
    Joan S

  12. Art is the soul and spirit of the culture, when you hold a mirror up to yourselves and share with us what you see in truth, you move us in ways that make our hearts ache, or soar, often you make us uncomfortable. Art aids us to transform as human beings willing or unwilling, you help us to walk our path. I will never regret being confronted by art. Thank you for sharing your vision.


Comments may not appear immediately, because they will be moderated before being posted. We will not post any rude, insulting or uncivil comments, or any anonymous comments.