Wherever you live in the world, I don't think it is possible to have missed the fact that there is a new force at the top in the USA. Whether you like President Donald Trump or not, he is the elected leader of what I think is somewhat laughably called the 'Free West'. Personally, I do not like how he behaves, how he treats others or what he stands for, but that is my personal opinion and I do not push it upon anyone else.
Just after the U.S. election results were announced a huge wave of anxiety washed over a large proportion of the American population and many others in rest of the world. I am one of those people; not an American citizen, but an outsider who is seriously troubled by the things President Trump is saying and doing on behalf of the American people and the impact that will have on everyone in the world, not just those within the borders of the USA.
Back in February, just after the U.S. elections, a group of quilt artists called The Artist's Circle created a call for entry to an exhibition to protest their concerns about the words and actions of their new President. You can read more about them here.
As I learned more about the new President's proposed January order to indefinitely ban Syrian refugees and temporarily ban all other refugees and travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries I decided to enter my quilt 'We Walk Together...' into the exhibition (it is the same quilt I entered into Quilt en Beaujolais last year which won a 1st prize ribbon). I find it impossible to understand how anyone could react this way. I have listened and tried to understand the arguments put forward in support of such a ban and can only conclude that it is inhumane and diametrically opposed to the way humans ought to treat each other.
By the end of May, (when President Trump's travel ban still had not been put fully into action due to legal challenges) I was informed that my quilt had been selected to for the exhibition. It was a day of mixed emotions. I was pleased that the quilt would be part of the exhibition and yet filled with sadness and a feeling of helplessness that this quilt should even exist. A superb catalogue of all the quilts selected to travel is available for purchase via Amazon, designed by Judy Coates Perez and Indigo Perez. Click here or on the cover below if you are interested in finding out more or purchasing a copy.
Back in June an article in Hand/Eye magazine ran which gives some more background to the exhibition. You can read more about it here.
You can also view all of the selected quilts by visiting the Threads of Resistance blog below:
Each quilt is accompanied by the artist statement and a voice message which explains a little more about the quilt. It is a fabulous way to see and understand the raw emotions felt my each artist. Be aware, however, that it is possible you may disagree with messages on the quilts or be shocked by the images and language portrayed. Part of the stated aim of this exhibition is to "shock us out of our comfort zone and into action....these quilts (are also giving) voice 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.
If any of it offends you then you have the absolute right to pass comment in a civilized way and look away.
My reason for this perhaps unusual comment above is that an unintended consequence of this and other protest exhibitions has arisen. The issue has been widely discussed in quilting circles on social media, but if you are not aware of all this then here is a quick summary.
A group of quilters in the USA who have been described as 'Socially Conservative' chose to form a secret social media group so they could air their feelings privately, possibly in ways that would probably alienate some of their other acquaintances if their unguarded sentiments were made public. I wish to stress there is nothing wrong with people expressing their opinions, and people are entitled to their personal views and preferences. Indeed, I have learned there are many such groups in existence from all political sides. Unfortunately this group of quilters, among other things, also chose to take physical action against other quilters just because they disagreed with their viewpoint. This is where I feel they crossed the line. Members of the secret group talked themselves into a downward spiral, and did some pretty despicable things. They sent complaints to an exhibition which had put out a call for quilts protesting against the Trump presidency (this one); they contacted the sponsors of a well known 'liberal' quilter to suggest that she should be dropped because of her opposition to Trump; they sent homophobic messages to gay artists; they contacted quilting trade shows, asking organisers to cancel classes run by quilters they thought were 'too liberal'; they also suggested to each other the idea of boycotting certain quilters, and reporting them to the American tax authorities so that they would be tied up in tax investigations. I even got an email telling me to keep my nose out of things that as a foreigner don't concern me 'or else'! (I did wonder with a smile what the 'or else' might be for the nanosecond before I hit the 'bin/trash' button) All their targets were chosen because of their support for things they considered to be liberal causes and those who publicly supported the 'Threads of Resistance' call were fair game.
So, if you disagree, that is fine by me, but lets not allow things to get personal. Let's listen to both sides of the argument and maintain a civilized debate.
The exhibition received over 500 entries, which is an extraordinary number for such an art call. Obviously not all could be accepted to travel to the multiple venues (click here for details) but every entry can be seen on the Threads of Resistance website by clicking here. I've looked at them all and they form an incredible body of work.
There are also a number of other exhibits protesting President Trump's administration's actions and policies. Here are links to those I know about.
The Threads of Resistance exhibition opens next week in New England - I am really looking forward to hearing the reaction and the reviews once it opens. My thanks go to all those who were bold enough to bring this exhibition to reality.
Thanks for reading