I’d like to start with something like, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” but in actuality, it was bad and then it got even worse.
I began last Saturday in the English countryside, where I was staying with a dear friend. I did a quick check of email before loading into the car a driving to the Fetsival of Quilts in Birmingham, England. I discovered that one of my art pieces, on display in the US, was being censored. Really? My work??
I’m part of a group called Boundless Fiber Artists. Our latest group challenge was to use a kimono as the base for our work. We had created an exhibit called “Kimono Kakushin” which means: the kimono repurposed or reinvented. It was on display in Colorado at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Festival. I created a piece titled “The Thin Veneer” On the back were images of geishas being beautiful and graceful, and, inside the front was a panel with images of Japanese soldiers committing acts of violence against captives. It was meant to be a statement about how cultures often present as one thing when they are really something very different at the core of it. It is human nature to want to show our best selves, but it is not necessarily who we truly are. This piece was about bringing to light unpleasant truths.
It seems that someone took exception to my work and had the front closed so that the unpleasantness could not be viewed. Of course, the artwork now becomes pointless, or perhaps just a victim of the same mentality it was meant to expose. I was very much displeased with being censored and did not want my artwork to be exhibited in the altered state, but, what can you do half a world away? I requested that the kimono be removed and the empty stand left on exhibit to speak of the assault on freedom of expression.
Meanwhile, back in the UK, we arrived to the Festival of Quilts. Once inside the hall, I acquired a program and set off to find my “Turkish Bread Boys”. It was entered in the pictorial competition and I had high hopes of winning a prize. It was quilt # 919. Walking down the aisle, I saw 916, 917, 918, 920… What? It wasn’t there, A quick look around and there was no sign of it. We hurried to the information desk to seek and explanation. A lovely woman led us back to the correct area, where we retraced our steps. No, it still wasn’t there. A panic was rising from my core. After checking with people in the admin office, it was revealed that my piece had never arrived. They attempted to chase it down through the day, while we walked around and tried to enjoy the rest of the exhibits. In the end, there was still no sign of the quilt.
Another of my works, “Sweet Song from and Old Fiddle,” was being shown as part of a special exhibit titled Metaphors on Aging. This was well received and people were so complimentary about the piece that it did help take some of the sting out of losing the Bread Boys. Those boys, when they finally do get home, they will be in so much trouble.
This weekend that was to be the big finish to a great summer, has suddenly fallen flat. I’d like to end with a cheerful note, but I can’t. I write this at 2:00 AM sitting up in a strange hotel room, unable to sleep, wondering what fresh hell tomorrow will bring.