Guest Post | Give a F*ck

by contributor on January 28, 2012

in Art+Design, Guest Blogger, Quilting

Chawne is a multi-craftual quilter who channels all her nervous energy into making blankets and quilts to keep folks warm. She blogs about the processes at Completely Cauchy.

This post comes with a language warning: [be prepared for some thought provoking (some might say shocking)  images - ed]

The diversity of the crafting world can often surprise crafty folks and astound non-crafters. Among us there are young and old, male and female, able-bodied and physically challenged, tall and short, and conservative and liberal. The public stereotypes are blown away by visits to sites such as Mr X Stitch and Craftster, where featured crafter-artists are shown expressing themselves in unique ways. There is a sense in which one need not self-censor if there is a principle to explore and more of us ought to embrace this spirit of individuality and fearlessly show it in our work.

Did you know that some crafters verbally express themselves using curse words? This is the non-stereotypical behavior (by that I refer to the externally constructed stereotype) that currently interests me.

With the publication of Word Play Quilts, more and more quilters are including text in their quilts, whether to emblazon with the name of the giftee or to send a sweet special message. It has opened up a whole new way to express oneself in textiles. But are there boundaries? One must eventually wonder if quilts are somehow a sacred space on which certain profanities must not be uttered. My own recent quilts have tested this in a small way. Reactions have been mixed and, surprisingly, the negative reactions are deeply personal even when the message is a positive affirmation.

 

Find out more about this quilt pictured above: Chawne has written a follow up post on her blog 

I needed to know how other crafter-artists felt about the act of cursing in cotton. So I invited a wide swath of textile artists in the US, Canada and England to participate in an ongoing communal Give a F*ck quilt project back in November 2011. Using a variety of techniques—patchwork, embroidery, and filet crochet—they are expressing their potty-mouths by making profane quilt blocks. There are few restrictions, including a size range, a “decency” level, and the requirement that the word “fuck” appear somewhere so that it is legible at a nice distance.

The diversity of interpretations of the request has been impressive and will make the ultimate quilt all the more interesting.

Sample Block Artists: Daniel Rouse :: Corrine Bayraktaroglu :: Jeni Baker 

The blocks are still arriving in the mail, but the artists have been telling me of their experiences while making them. Most common are comments about the cathartic effect, releasing anger or frustration. Yet others express youthful glee about doing something they perceive as “naughty.”

The blocks will be assembled into a quilt, likely a cacophony of f*cks. And we will then see what it is like when several crafter-artists express themselves at once. This project aims to face the issue of language boundaries head-on so that we can all return to free and nuanced expression in the future.

 

Edited to add: Chawne has written a follow up post on her blog – head over there to read more about her work.

Please read my response to the comments on this post here and Chawne’s response here.

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{ 147 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nedra- Cactus Needle January 28, 2012 at 8:23 am

This is the most offensive quilting post I have ever witnessed.
I am deleting my whipup link because you would even consider posting such an article.

2 Mary January 28, 2012 at 8:39 am

I love this website so much, but I really wish this post had come with a warning label at the top. There is one word in particular here that is completely unacceptable to me in any form, artistic, ironic, de-constructed, literal, or otherwise. And the f-word isn’t my favorite, either. Can you imagine checking this website for new posts with your 6-year-old daughter, as I sometimes do? Including these particular images on this particular website just seems like an incredibly unfortunate decision.

3 appalled January 28, 2012 at 8:53 am

You know, I’ve rea about the curse word thing. Doesn’t bother me too much because I swear in real life but the N word quilt is extremely offensive. I question the judgement of you for posting this. Sorry, not sure I’m all that much interested in whipup anymore. I come here for stress free crafting, not to read this.

4 pumpkinmama January 28, 2012 at 9:09 am

I think challenging peoples’ perceptions of what is acceptable to present in any artistic medium is part of the growth and development of that particular medium. Chawne does that with quilting (and other textile art). I think it is important for works like hers to be featured in places like this. Just because an individual doesn’t like a particular word or piece of work does not mean it should be excluded from discussion or ignored.

5 dave January 28, 2012 at 9:45 am

Using curse words and racial slurs does not challenge anything. It’s a quilt not a political forum. I would like to see you bring the n-word quilt to a black neighborhood and see if they feel it’s an artistic statement, or just a horrible racist quilt. It’s people like you that give real artists bad names by assuming everything is progressive or pushing boundaries.

6 nicke January 29, 2012 at 7:28 pm

i completely and utterly do not agree with what you are saying Dave. Chawne is an amazing artist and it offends me that you state she is giving “REAL” artists a bad name!

7 CvB January 28, 2012 at 2:24 pm

People have been using offensive languege/content in artistic contexts to question it’s impact since the inception of art itself. You don’t know anything about the meaning behind that particular piece. There are several different meanings with which the artist could have created it- the one I saw, when I viewed it (especially in the context of this article) was that the artist was creating the word with the materials and historical implications of a medium usually perceived as flowery and archaic in order to gage the visual shock and whether or not any context at all could take away from the negative emotional reaction people have, to the word. It’s called contrast. It very well could have been created by an African American artist who was working through their own relationship with the word. It’s like you got it… but you didn’t get it. Open your minds.

8 nh February 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Open minds – if saying or stitching offensive words makes one an artist, there are millions and millions of artists in this world. You are good to give the benefit of the doubt, that someone actually had something positive to say with such offensive words.

9 Celine January 28, 2012 at 4:47 pm

pumpkinmama, Very well said. Totally and wholeheartedly agree…who knows who the owner of the n word quilt is. Maybe it is in some form therapeutic for them, who is it for someone else to judge. I actually can now imagine my own honkey quilt…hmmmm ;)

10 Meg January 28, 2012 at 5:14 pm

I agree with pumpkinmama. Considering a word or phrase off-limits gives the word more power over you. Words are just words, it’s the people who give them meaning, consider them profane or verboten. But sometimes, people can use words to take their own power back. I think what Chawne’s doing is admirable, and I want to thank Whip Up for featuring her work.

(As a general statement–quilts can be art and art can make political statements. Just my 2 cents.)

11 andrea January 28, 2012 at 9:36 am

I applaud Chawne’s work, both the safe artistic expression she uses and the “unsafe” artistic expression. Language taboos are a part of everyday life and the dialogue she creates by using these words in a different setting elicits an emotional response, which she is trying to have you identify and examine. Why do these words bother you? Why are they offensive? Why do they create this response in you? The words are not the offensive part. It is the societal meaning and emotion behind them. It’s important to examine what part these words play in society and in our own view of the world. I wish more artists would invite such controversial dialogue in their work. Handcrafts are often touted as safe, cushy, and even too sweet. By turning that concept on its head, we can view handcrafts *as* artistic expression that is beyond just making visually beautiful work. Through this dialogue, handcrafts are given the ability to be visually beautiful and provocatively meaningful.

12 Cathy January 28, 2012 at 9:43 am

As a former high school English teacher, one of the things I tried to teach my students was that words have power. It is so, so important to examine why words evoke a reaction in us – even words that offend. I think this kind of expression in craft is amazing, and while some may find it shocking to see these words in these quilts, Chawne’s work shows the power of art. Just as curse words have always been challenged in books, people will resist seeing something they think is “ugly” combined with something beautiful like quilting.

13 ang January 28, 2012 at 9:55 am

yup. delete. tacky times three.

14 appalled January 28, 2012 at 10:04 am

@pumpkinmama – I understand her experiment with the curse word thing. Although to an extent I think its just a ploy for attention but if she wants to challenge the usually polite nature of quilt making with something completely opposite, I support her artistic right to do that.

What I take issue with is the racial slur. Cuss words are not the same as something like that. And she knows this. She doesn’t explain this in this post or in her own blog. I can’t find out any information about her own ethnicity. Is she African American? Is the purpose of this to comment on racism? Is it a social statement? Whether she likes it or not, going to issues like that means she needs to back them up with some kind of artist statement.

As far as posting her on whip up, the issue I think many people will have is that whip up has been promoting itself as a family friendly blog for some time. To go from “here’s a post on how to bond with your children through crafting” (posted many many many times to the point that I took a break from the blog because I don’t have kids and just wasn’t interested) to posting this? The moderators knew they would draw traffic and attention and in that regard, they will receive it.

15 Chawne January 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Thanks for engaging in the conversation. I don’t disagree with much of your comment: a disclaimer on the post would have been nice and greater context for that quilt is needed. I wrote a follow-up here on my blog.

16 MargaretR January 28, 2012 at 10:04 am

I agree that this post should STAY! Why should crafting be limited to the cute? I find teh creative process to be a great way to work out the frustrations of the day, and I certainly curse whenever I drop a stitch or mess up a pattern, so why not reflect that honestly in my work? I am inspired. And [gasp] if a kid saw this post? Start a conversation. How awful is that?

17 Lacey January 28, 2012 at 10:24 am

I love this blog post up until the third photo. I enjoy pushing people’s boundaries and really love curse words myself. I’m currently using one in a cross stitch design. However, the third photo does not hold a curse word for me. That is an offensive racial slur. I feel like that one falls outside the realm of the project to put cussing on quilts. I question the depth of thought that went into that one choice. I know everyone else here will bemoan the whole post for the cussing in general, but I’m still recovering from the use of one of the most hateful slurs. I’m from the South, and that word just has so much hate and oppression in it. I don’t think there is ever an appropriate time for it’s use. Ever. And it may have been the artist’s intention to bring this reaction up and make me examine it and look at why that word is taboo but the others aren’t, but I feel like this isn’t the best venue for that.

18 Jenn January 28, 2012 at 10:24 am

It saddens me that in a list about expressing one’s self and pushing boundaries, folks are passing judgement on another’s craft. I personally don’t think I am brave enough to create something like this precisely because it does make me uncomfortable. But do I think others have a right to? Of course. Who am I to judge? People judge me because I sew and knit clothing an quilts-telling me that I’m wasting time and money because I can buy those things at Walmart. But it is the essence of creating that allows us to be who we are and explore our selves. That is for no one to judge.

19 Michele January 28, 2012 at 11:27 am

Well said, Jenn. I don’t think any of us has the right to dictate one’s creativity. What fun would that be?

20 Kristin L January 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm

I fully agree. Just because there are words or subjects you or I might not feel comfortable using doesn’t mean that we can or should dictate whether someone else IS comfortable using them, or has a valid reason for exploring them. What is offensive to one person might be cathartic to another, just as something inspirational to one person can be offensively proselytizing to another, and so on. So I don’t think any of us can set boundaries for anyone other than ourselves. There’s a language warning at the top of the post, so anyone sensitive to the power of words continues at his or her own risk. Kudos to Chawne for expressing herself in a way that works for her.

21 Melissa January 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Yes, there is a language warning at the top of the blog, but not a language warning for the title of the blog! Even using a * in place of a “u”, it’s not a word I like running through my head :)

22 amy January 28, 2012 at 10:29 am

That N word is an extremely loaded word here in the United States, which you may not fully realize as an Australian, just as I’m sure there are racist, offensive words with long histories in Australia with which I would not be familiar. That picture, in particular, requires a clear link to the artist’s explanation or back story so those of us who are interested can find out–is this artist appropriating the word, taking it back, understands its history, or just using it for shock value? *Especially* with that word, in my opinion, you have the burden of responsibility of a further explanation of the context.

And yes, a warning at the top–as with NSFW Saturdays with Mr. X Stitch–would have been nice, especially given this is new for you and not a regular feature (as with Mr. X Stitch–but the warning is there every week anyway).

23 amy January 28, 2012 at 12:31 pm

All my questions were answered with Chawne’s post on her own blog. I encourage folks to click over and read what she has to say.

24 Jane January 28, 2012 at 10:37 am

I have been following the progress of this quilt on C’s blog, and find the way that her work plays with the interaction between traditional and “acceptable” crafts and traditionally “unacceptable” language to be a wonderfully freeing thing to read about. Thanks for hosting this articulate post on this project.

25 Sherri I January 28, 2012 at 10:40 am

I respect Chawne’s right to express herself. However, I don’t have to approve of the manner in which she has chosen. I was totally shocked when I ran across this post. So unexpected from your blog. Totally unacceptable words.

26 kath_red January 28, 2012 at 10:58 am

I am totally in support of artists and how they choose to express themselves, to me that is a big part of what whipup is — freedom of artistic expression. Many comments here have suggested that quilting is not art and should not be political, however historically quilts and the women who make them have been prominent in both of these areas.

Chawne will be responding directly to some of the comments here regarding her background, her designs and her choice of words.

Thank you for taking the time to discuss this topic.
regards
Kathreen

27 Janine January 28, 2012 at 11:02 am

I’m completely taken aback by the hostility of some of these comments. It seems to me the views expressed are often saying more about the commenters than the blocks.

28 Kristine January 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Well said.

29 Colleen January 30, 2012 at 11:33 am

I couldn’t agree more. You can’t wash over everything in this world just because you find it disagreeable to your way of being in the world.

30 romney February 8, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I agree completely. These quilts take words out of their normal context to challenge your assumptions about them. Essentially, what is offensive? Its all about their usage. If they’re used in a traditional craft, completely out of their normal context, what do they mean?

31 Ann January 28, 2012 at 11:12 am

Powerful, powerful stuff. I grew up in the south, live there now, and the n word is the most poisonous word I know. It instantly conjures a pure, flat-out racism. Maybe some African-Americans have reclaimed it as a joking nickname. But I’m Caucasian, and I can’t imagine saying that word, ever. Some readers wonder what race Cauchy is. I don’t think it’s relevant here. If she’s white, her n word quilt is challenging. If she’s not, it’s still challenging. This is what art does, and this is why Cauchy’s quilts are not simply craft. She moves beyond the materials and techniques of a gentle craft to take us into a conversation about the power of words. I think her work is strong, and scary. I admire it completely. PS she lays out the most extraordinary quilts, by the way. If you study her blog, you will discover a brilliant technician and a master colorist. And a woman who is thinking more than most of us are.

32 Sarah E January 28, 2012 at 11:25 am

I appreciate who Chawne is and how she uses fiber to express her personal and political outrage. If you are offended by the words, perhaps you understand just a little bit better the hurt that is felt when those words are used as weapons to demean and insult.
Instead of writing her off, maybe we should sit with the words for a while and use this as an excuse to think about something larger than the quilt that lays across the couch.
Maybe, just maybe there is a metaphor in here for how we cover people with hateful words every single day.
And, it’s just my humble opinion, but I think announcing that we are removing ourselves from the conversation b/c we are offended is just one more way of saying, “what a bitch.”

33 Chawne January 28, 2012 at 11:28 am

Thanks to Kathreen for inviting me to write this guest post about this project. I think she is brave to have shared it with you.
I also don’t disagree with all those who have commented negatively—about the art. [For example, disclaimers are comforting to some viewers and I use them regularly on my own blog.] And the point of the project is to test boundaries and to ask how far is too far. Thankfully there is a great and rich diversity of opinions on the topic and I am proud to live in a place where we are allowed to ask such questions and give each other honest and constructive answers. I take the answers to heart on both emotional and intellectual levels; indeed, followers of my work likely have detected the evolution of expressions.

I also agree that the n-word project requires deeper context. The superficial information that could help here is for you to know that I am African-American. To tell you more about that quilt and myself, I posted a follow-up on my blog.

Thanks again for the dialogue.

34 Shirley January 28, 2012 at 11:38 am

This is the most disgusting post I have ever read and very insulting to the quilting craft. Hope she is not looking for recommendations for employment. No one would hire someone with a mouth like this.

35 Kate quilts... January 28, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Shirley, you should read the comments as well, ad Chawne’s follow up post on her own blog. My other suggestion to you is that Chawne would not be looking for employment recommendations from someone with an attitude like yours.

36 Aubrey January 28, 2012 at 9:34 pm

What a completely asinine comment. What job, praytell, do you think she would be applying for by displaying her quilts on an internet site? If there are jobs to be had in this way, please let me know, I would like to apply.

No, no, don’t bother replying to ‘explain’ it to me. I understood your superior and condescending attitude just fine.

37 Colleen January 30, 2012 at 11:39 am

I don’t think that the “quilting craft” can be insulted, Shirley. Obviously, you define the “quilting craft” as an absolute. For me, the quilt has always been the palette for the quilter to use. I remember reading a quote by a fairly well known quilter about how quilts served many dimensions for pioneer women who had to leave many of their most beautiful objects behind. They made quilts to keep their families warm and made them “beautiful so as not to break their hearts.” Who are you to define what heartbreak or feeling a person brings to their quilt? You can’t; only the maker can.

38 Pat L. January 28, 2012 at 11:40 am

As soon as I saw the N word block I knew it had to have been done by someone who was black and it was making a statement about the continued use of the word as a racial slur because from my reading of Whip-Up I was pretty sure it would not have been posted otherwise. The N word is pretty offensive in black and white and cotton. It’s even more offensive when coming out of the mouth of one person to demean another person. It needs to addressed. Good luck with the project. I’ve subscribed to completely cauchy and hope to see the finished project if not in person at least online.

39 sarakenobi January 29, 2012 at 12:40 pm

love this comment

40 Pam P. January 28, 2012 at 11:41 am

Wow! The comments given are far worse than any language written above. While I am not a huge fan of the curse world phenomenon, I understand freedom of expression. It might not be my thing but to be downright hostile and attacking is far more ugly and damaging than anything that can be written on the cotton above. Was I taken back by the “n” word, yes, do I get it? I’m not sure. Am I tolerant and want to find out out more of why this person did this-of course. It makes me sad that people want to delete there feed. I do not know this person, but I am familiar with Craftster and Mr. XStitch. Both sites are incredibly wonderful, insightful and there are things for everyone at both. You might be offended by some of what you see, but you might also find something that interest you. To not like this is your choice, but to demand that it is taken down or else, is censorship.

41 Cheryl January 28, 2012 at 11:46 am

Good for you for profiling something out of the norm, out of our comfort zone as quilters. I’ve always admired Chawne’s work precisely because she pushes boundaries, and yes, our buttons.

We don’t have to agree with everything we see. We can yes, be offended by it. That doesn’t mean it is evil, awful, or worthy of derision. Don’t like what you see? Figure out why then move on.

I actually think it is a good thing that some people are offended. It shows that word in question is offensive and not acceptable. And that’s the way it should be.

42 Jolie February 1, 2012 at 10:29 am

Yes exactly, Cheryl! Well put!

I find some of these comments far more offensive than anything in the post…

43 Kelly January 28, 2012 at 11:48 am

Well done Kathreen – I love that whipup brings to our attention such a wide variety of artists and I really hope you’ll continue to do so despite some of the negative comments above.

44 kath_red January 28, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Hi Kelly, Yes whipup has always shown and will continue to show art and craft in all its configurations – that includes the nice and safe and the raw and real.

45 Marie January 28, 2012 at 11:49 am

Another one here in support of the quilts. Everyone is free to express themselves however they see fit, and crafts in general are not, by any means, limited to those projects that are deemed ‘pretty’ or ‘cute’ or inoffensive. I, as a crafter and artist, should not have to restrict myself to only that which makes people happy or appeases the masses. Those who challenge society’s norm in whatever form and take a stand for something inspire others to do so as well.

I applaud anyone who puts their art out there and subjects themselves to such harsh words of criticism because people can’t look past the words to see the artist, the emotions, and the voice behind them.

46 Crystal January 28, 2012 at 11:53 am

I am in complete agreement with Janine’s comment. I have been following the progress of Chawne’s work for a while now and I have always looked at her quilts as art–expressing things that are important to her–personally. This series and inviting others to so the same is a way of letting go of what is considered appropriate. The line between “art” and “craft” is getting blurred which is why we are seeing much diversity in what what usually considered craft. I applaud these works and hope to see much more self-expression in the future!

47 Julie January 28, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Usually I enjoy the posts from Whip Up but this was digusting. Did you do this to gather more attention? And, usually when one gives a warning, it’s before the offensive material is shown, not with it.

48 Denise Felton January 28, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I’m impressed and excited by the dialog this post has created. Craft and particularly art are about interchange, not just decoration or passing the time. Even the hostile posts have value in carrying that conversation forward. Thank you, whip up, for publishing this post.

49 charlotte January 28, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Boring.

50 tracy January 28, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I agree with most of the negative comments on this post – for a family oriented blog site, the decision to post this is totally unacceptable. I don’t know if you have kids are not but is this something you would want them to find on your blog? What about family members, potential employers & so on? The “n” word is a racial slur and most people would agree to that. This is in very poor taste & not worthy of the whipup blog or I least I didn’t think so. I’m sure you will lose followers & I’ll be one of them.

51 Rebecca January 28, 2012 at 12:28 pm

It’s a delight to see that Chawne’s post has stirred up dialogue much like her work. Words are hurtful, crass, beautiful and yes, action-driven. While some of Chawne’s quilt words make me cringe, I love seeing them because her goal is to make you think. And I think when I see words that hold so much weight and power in our community. Cheers Chawne!

52 carolyn January 28, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I don’t have a problem with the quilts at all. And I do think it’s important to keep challenging words and the way we use them.

But I think the problem is that the post did not state Chawne’s race — I understand that strangers who don’t know who she is are reading this and ASSUMING the quilter is white, then the N-word quilt becomes VERY offensive. As I’m sure eveyrone understands that a white person using the N-word is very different than a black person reclaiming a racial slur that’s been thrown at them.

i..e, something like “As an African-American quilter, one of the things I choose to do with my craft is to challenge stereotypes and insults that have been flung at me…”

53 schrodinger January 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I’m very much stuck on this comment. I’m struggling to see the relevance. Maybe reading more about her process and understanding where this is coming from would be relevant? Perhaps a link to the posts she has about this (which is here in the comments)? But the need to know Chawne’s race??! That it is more/less offensive because of the race of the maker? That this is not something that we can all, regardless of our race, confront and discuss? Somehow this makes this particular comment more offense to me than anything else.

Personally, I love how Chawne (through the “n” word quilt) has made me examine my own thoughts and feelings, not just of the word, but how I react to many different things relating to issues of race.

54 Jennifer Can Quilt January 30, 2012 at 7:08 pm

I like this comment. Chawne’s ethnic or racial background has no bearing on her “legitimacy” in creating the N-word quilt. You’re right that understanding her thought-process, personal experience, and connection to the word is absolutely essential in understanding the context and meaning behind this work.

Well said!

55 Jolie February 1, 2012 at 10:32 am

Ditto! Well put Shrodinger – how does race come into Chawne’s authenticity?

56 carolyn February 1, 2012 at 10:53 am

I think her ethnic/racial background IS a HUGE part of her thought process in making this work. That’s why I think it’s relevant. Not as a tossed-off FYI this quilter is African-American, but in the fact that some quilts cannot be truly seen without that information.

I personally don’t need that information – but what I meant in my comment was “hey, I understand where the complaints are coming from.” Even if I am OK with the quilt doesn’t mean I refuse to see the point of people who are upset. It seemed like a lot of the supportive posts were very determined to not acknowledge the racist context in which it might be seen. And that’s just as relevant.

57 ellen January 28, 2012 at 12:58 pm

they are just words people. and it’s art. it’s supposed to make you feel strongly. not every stitched project is puppies and kitties. i for one love this post and the work. rock on chawne!

58 Keri January 28, 2012 at 1:14 pm

I teach….some of the kids I teach are immersed in a world that I strive to rescue them out of. It’s dark, negative, criminal-like, and really hard. Most of the kids who I teach, that live in this world I described, use these words routinely. My emphasis in teaching then is to rise above the world where this language pervades and is common.
So, I introduce them to beautiful poetry written by amazing intellects who had real messages that changed the world….and who have survived the ages because of the beauty in the way they crafted language.
The artist you featured has the vocabulary and imagination of a three year old who lives on the street.
But it is a free country and art is a personal expression…..so, I admit there must be room for the expression of even the most base elements. I regret that in the world of crafting that I routinely visit that this artist is showcased. Most of the crafters I generally encounter in our online craft world create beauty which inspires all of us. I doubt that many of us will feel the desire to follow this line of creating.

59 jafabrit January 28, 2012 at 8:34 pm

I am astonished that you would presume to know the what sort of vocabulary or imagination this artist has or hasn’t based on one blog post, and one aspect of her work???

ps. Avoid Shakespeare, it’s filled with offensive vulgarity ;)

60 nicke January 29, 2012 at 7:43 pm

for a teacher i am saddened by your comment. to make a comment like this and you obviously have no idea who chawne is, how talented she is with yarn or cotton, i think you should have taken a look at her blog before commenting!

61 Jennifer Can Quilt January 30, 2012 at 7:10 pm

I would challenge you to examine your own presumptions and prejudices, especially regarding the world where your students live. Who decided that they needed rescuing– you or them?

62 jg March 25, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Jennifer…well said. So many teachers who may not be part of the community in which they teach make assumptions about their children’s lives. Plenty of affluent, white children use these words with abandon, yet do we rush to rescue them?Though children may live in poor, violence ravaged communities they do not need to be rescued. As all children they need and deserve a quality education so that they can make themselves into what they want to become.

63 tricia warden January 28, 2012 at 1:15 pm

very brave and compelling work!

64 kelly January 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm

y’all. she didn’t flippantly use the N word. she didn’t use it to be edgy. she was making a statement as a black woman. examine the intent.

65 Julie January 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Well, speaking as an Aussie, who currently live in the USA, i can tell you we have no shortage of racial issues in the land Down Under.
I however am aware of Chawnes work. She is a great artist. And that’s what she is. don’t get your knickers in a twist people. At least until you know what someone is really all about. You certainly won’t understand enough from this short post.
Then again, the people [read closed minded] ones i am talking to. probably don’t want to know.

66 amy January 28, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I’m sure you do have racial issues in Australia–but I’m not familiar with them and I wouldn’t want to presume to be. I assume any country that was colonized by another has racial issues. It was absolutely shocking, yes, to see this post with that word and no context. I’m not one who feels art should be pretty and comfortable, but I did want to know more.

You’re right, this short post *isn’t* enough, but for a while this morning it was all that was available. I’m really glad Chawne was open to telling us a bit more, because I honestly wanted to know, not because I felt justification is required, but because this image on its own is not nearly as powerful as that image coupled with her words and the one of her cloaked in the quilt.

67 Lisa January 28, 2012 at 1:43 pm

The one concern I have with pushing the boundaries of profanity is wondering where will it stop. I understand that there are some words that are profane, naughty, dirty, etc. which can bring about visceral reactions, but by bringing these words into more everyday use (hello F word, I’m talking about you… although the hard c word is on it’s way) does that mean that new taboo words will be created? Or will these words start to be used flippantly or casually by young children? I rarely use the F word (and never the hard c or the other c word), but the odd occasion that I do it’s an extreme word for an extreme occasion, and as such it actually offers some emotional release. It’s casual use would diminish it’s power, but then what would I use in it’s place?

I think if these quilts are to be displayed, it should be under circumstances befitting it’s use: in a back room, under poor lighting, vandalized with spray paint – I think that would make more of an artistic statement then under bright white lighting in a museum, or on a bright and fresh website often associated with children’s crafts. But I guess it did prompt discussion!

68 Barbara January 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I am loving this post and still amused! I am a 65 year old grandmother who worked in public schools for 18 years and believe me these words are common everyday language for our youth – public and parochial. They think nothing of using these freely. I read Chawne’s blog (I am putting her in my bloglines today!) – can feel her pain and think she expressed her creative side beautifully. Quilting is personal!!

Can’t wait to see the finish quilt! For sure there has been dialogue here today!

69 Kelly K January 28, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I think some people here assume all quilters are white. That is offensive by itself. Then determining the worth of a quilt by the color of the skin of the quilter is again offensive. This post however, I don’t find offensive at all.

70 Jennifer Can Quilt January 30, 2012 at 7:14 pm

I’m wondering the number of white folks vs people of color in these comments. I’d hazard a guess that almost all of the commenters expressing disgust over the n-word are white. That right there speaks volumes about race and guilt.

71 Bethany January 28, 2012 at 2:59 pm

This post is way too short. I would love to see a more in depth look at crafting that pushes the boundaries of this cute, safe, clean little box we’ve been put into. Women (mostly women, as traditionally the ones who made quilts, sewed etc. as part of their daily work) have always used their work as expression, often just of themselves, but also of causes they support (war, peace), grief, love, political parties. Somehow it seems that we have cleaned all that out and any time anyone creates art that challenges us, and makes it out of cloth or yarn or stitches, it is subversive, distasteful. Which I suppose, in some cases, is really the point. How disturbing it has been for everyone to see these words on the quilts. It is unexpected and powerful. Why? I think we need to get past the shock. Don’t turn away and dismiss.

I hope this creates discussion, rather than division.

72 Melissa January 28, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Sorry, the post was also too offensive for me. I had to unsubscribe you from my google reader.

73 Ruby42 January 28, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Art has a long standing history of provoking emotions and thoughts. No one piece of art is going to please or be understood by everyone.

I applaud the idea and the beautiful way in which each of these pieces were made. The craftsmanship is superb. I am a self taught beginning quilter and an established cross stitch “artist” that has been known to push the boundaries of what some would call good taste.

The “Nigger” quilt is indeed provocative in the very simplest definition of the word. I don’t believe modern American society has a more inflammatory word in its language or history, especially not one with so many stereotypes, so much hate, regret, shame, bigotry, hypocrisy, and even forgiveness associated with it.

Some forms of art are not appealing to everyone, but the point of art is freedom. Freedom to express not only ideas and emotions, but freedom to challenge the world to see things from different perspectives. To learn, to think, to grow. That is one of the most important facets to art.

I applaud the bravery of anyone willing to challenge others to think as I applaud anyone who spends time and money working hard to design and create a tangible work that may be shared with their world, no matter how large or small, close to home or as a global idea.

I will refrain from referring to anyone as closed minded that does not understand or appreciate the sentiment or idea behind this project. To name call is simply uncouth and counterproductive to the concept of educating the world to see and learn and accept others regardless of whether things fall within their comfort zone. Likewise, wouldn’t it be wonderful to adopt an idea of “to each his own” and “live and let live” on issues such as these? Unless the poster specifically asks “Are you offended by this and why” what is the point of name calling and such hatred and harsh judgement of others?

To state you will delete your account due to one post by someone that you don’t like or find offensive is ridiculous to me. Are we ostriches? Do we hide from everything that we dislike and fear? What a frightening state of affairs if we are.

The internet: Where people who would never have the gall to state their name and speak their mind in person go to spew hate incognito.

You can teach your child the importance of self expression without tainting their ignorance. If you’re intelligent enough to know how to explain the situation without bigotry and ignorance.

74 roccagal January 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm

I think that all the naysayers should face reality! This is a HUGE problem in our society today and we should be shouting it from the rooftops in order to make everyone aware of it! Racism is a crime against humanity! Even a 6 year old should be made aware of
the issue and learn the power of words and how they should and should not be used! I applaud Chawne and whipup!!
I wonder if those who are opposed have ever been on the receiving end of racial slur?
Also have you all heard about freedom of speech!!!

75 harper January 28, 2012 at 5:45 pm

I suppose in the future we can expect a handy ‘how to’ on how to make a centerpiece filled with feces and urine in a mason jar and call it ‘art’ because doing so would be ‘thought provoking’ and ‘emotional.’

This is nothing more than an attempt by a narcissistic person in order to gain attention for their ‘art’ because they are severely lacking in any talent, vision or integrity.

To each his own freedom, but to highlight such work here is risky indeed.

76 Heidi January 30, 2012 at 3:02 am

Do tell… was the poo in the mason jar comment a display of your talent, vision, integrity, or an attempt to gain attention?

77 kath_red January 28, 2012 at 6:21 pm

There were several comments here that I found to be more unpleasant than anything in this post and artists work could possibly be. I considered deleting these comments as they are on the borderline of what should be a discussion about an artists work.

Yes the work is confronting and raw and personal as art often is, but please remember when commenting to remain respectful.

78 erin m. January 28, 2012 at 6:22 pm

My nearly 6 year old happened to look over my shoulder as I read this, and the follow up on her own blog, and of course asked me what the quilts said. It lead to a really good conversation about the way some words are used to hurt. Thanks for the catalyst for an important conversation!

79 Jules January 31, 2012 at 8:54 am

@erin m. I’m so glad to hear a parent being brave enough to talk to their child about hurtful words. Thank you for sharing such a positive comment – some of the comments on here have shocked and appalled me but this was refreshing. These conversations are so important and children have such an amazing capacity for understanding – far more than others here give them credit for. I have a 3 children (5yo, 3yo and 4 months) and the two bigger ones challenge language constantly. We can’t walk through a shopping centre or catch a bus without them hearing bad language. An open and honest dialogue with our children is vital as far as I am concerned – it is up to parents to frame it in an age appropriate way while still being frank and honest.

I like this post. Yes, it shocked me. Why? Because I am so used to reading saccharine blogs that project perfection. Life is not perpetually perfect. It is raw and emotional and real. It is exciting to see whipup challenge the accepted norm of quilting and craft being all roses.

I also applaud the artist for having the intestinal fortitude to confront accepted norms in this craft. For publicly exploring and challenging and questioning and mostly for provoking thought. Thank you Chawne. And thank you Kathreen – I know how much time and effort goes into this site with little to no reward. I appreciate all that you provide here – the sweet, the sentimental and the serious!

80 mimi January 28, 2012 at 6:58 pm

I find this post offensive. Generally the crafts/projects/ideas/etc that are presented are suitable for all. I can accept diverse, but not this post. I also have deleted whip up from my bookmarked sites. No longer interested.

81 sarakenobi January 28, 2012 at 7:07 pm

wow if you see this as a completely offensive NEED TO DELETE post, you need to GROW UP. things happen that you don’t agree with. People say things that you don’t make you happy. I would not let my six year old child read a blog post without my approval. This wasn’t just a random quilt design by the KKK, this was an artist expressing themselves with strong words. There are far more important things to whine about.

82 Jacqui January 28, 2012 at 7:24 pm

It’s a bit sad that so many people’s reaction to something challenging is to withdraw, delete, not engage. And over one post in what is obviously a favourite blog? Perhaps they should take a second and ask why it was posted.

Having said that, when I read the post and got to the controversial quilt I was a more than a little taken-aback – what a confronting word with absolutely no context to place it in! No context = no deeper meaning – just the purely offensive one that so many people are upset by. Yes the context is provided in the comments if you care to read them – clearly many have not! Perhaps the disclaimer at the top should be a bit more explicit (racist words are not actually the same as garden-variety swear words) and explain where people can go for clarification before they have a chance to close their minds? Editorial issues aside, it’s a very interesting topic and also a challenging one! The idea that such words should have such time and care lavished on them is one that I particularly find challenging – they are quick and hasty and expressive in a moment in time, not usually to be preserved and often regretted (particularly when my 6 year old parrots them back!).

83 mimi January 28, 2012 at 7:59 pm

I don’t really care why it was posted- just not what i’ve come to expect from the site. It’s a free country, we enjoy free speech and for that I’m grateful. But, on the other hand- I am free to NOT participate and also free to voice this choice.

84 sandy January 28, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Where’s the picture of the rainbow wedding ring quilt with ‘FAG’ spelled out on it? She and you claim her ‘art’ is personal, yet you chose to display it here on your ‘public forum.’

There is a line that has been well fought over for decades, and calling it ‘art’ doesn’t make it okay or acceptable for that matter.

85 Sheila January 30, 2012 at 8:35 pm

The word Fag is actually used in the gay community much the same way the n-word is in the black community, so were the artist gay, that would be a perfectly acceptable and comparable form of expression.
What’s more, I don’t understand your issue with something personal being on display. All art is personal that doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t be shared. If there isn’t an emotional tie between the art and the artist then it’s not art, it’s just something pretty to look at.

It seems like all the naysayers are upset because this quilt makes them uncomfortable. It should make you uncomfortable. It’s a racial slur. However, sweeping these words under the rug and pretending that they don’t exist doesn’t make them go away. As a black woman I hear it all the time. ALL THE TIME. I always thought “how nice it must be for civilized white people to pretend like this doesn’t happen just because they don’t have to see it.” (seriously, rose colored glasses) I applaud the artist for making people look at something they don’t want to see, and asking them to confront the feelings that arise. Those who are simply deleting this site are part of the problem, not the solution. Closing your eyes and plugging your ears won’t make this word go away. Awareness is everything, and this quilt as well as the story behind it definitely opened up some eyes.

86 Edie January 28, 2012 at 10:07 pm

I am with Nedra. This is offensive. I am deleting your website from my RSS.

87 Helen January 28, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Art in any form is meant to produce a reaction, good or bad, just as this post has done. I found it an interesting concept but I have to say I was shocked to see the photographic content of the post especially on WhipUp.
A much better warning needed to be written at the top of the post, partly to warn those who have children regularly looking at the site with them, so that they could prepare for the content of the post, or to allow those people who do not want to participate in this type of quilt work the choice to not have to read it. By posting the article as you did people’s choice as to whether they read it or not was removed from them.The article would have been just as controversial with only the discussion part and those who were really interested would have followed the feed to Chawne’s blog anyway.

88 kath_red January 29, 2012 at 3:48 am

Next time that a controversial guest post appears on whipup (and there will be a next time) I will make sure to have a more obvious disclaimer and language warning. Thank you for the thoughtful comments.

89 M February 7, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Wow. How many people who are called the N-word, are given a disclaimer before hand? Do they have a choice whether or not someone else uses it in their presence, none-the-less to their face? Why do you believe you deserve this special privilege?

It’s not the responsibility of the rest of the world to wander around trying to figure out what you find comfortable or not, and then place “warnings” so you can chose what to encounter and what not to.

I. Mean. Really.

90 SarahIvy January 28, 2012 at 11:57 pm

I’ve always found it interesting how threatened so many people are by things that provoke them to actually think and feel. What Chawne does through her work is challenge expectations and make people think. This is nothing but a good and inspiring thing!

The vast spectrum of comments on this post are a perfect illustration of the importance of her work. That this level of offense, discomfort. and negativity exists over the use of these words lays it bare.

I love that Chawne’s work makes me think, sometimes makes me cringe, and makes me examine how I react to and choose to use language. Language is such a powerful tool, it can be inflammatory, painful, and thought-provoking…and that’s why work like this is so important.

91 jjjjjoni January 29, 2012 at 12:41 am

It always makes me pause when the “open-minded” people judge the “judgemental” people for having an opposing opinion.

The purpose of being a “modern thinker” and doing away with racism, prejudices and hypocritical thinking is not to do them oneself!

If a reader is offended by these quilts, if she/he unsubscribes from the site, if he/she expresses her/himself…then the really with-it, open-minded people will understand their right to do so.

Free speech is the most important cornerstone of our democracy, and I see it coming under attack more and more every day, from many quarters. Political correctness is a dangerous thing when it muzzles people. Perhaps Chawne was even making a statement on that. What we need is a search for truth, respect for ALL opinions, even those dissenting from our own, and a desire to deal with things truthfully, and not mask them with double-speak.

Hitler himself began his compaign with creating an atmosphere in which people gradually became afraid to speak out and express their own opinions. We must never be the cause to make anyone feel afraid to disagree.

If you have already decided which side of this quilt-argument I’m on, you have already pre-judged in your mind.

92 Catherine January 30, 2012 at 3:28 am

Well said, I was starting to feel very uncomfortable for all the judgement being directed at those with a differing opinion. Are we to assume that the artworks are allowed to be confronting but everyone’s comments should only be glowing and supportive?? Maybe all of the so called open minded people should be asking themselves why they are so upset about people being offended and honest about it?

93 Lori January 30, 2012 at 10:17 am

My personal concern about the comments wasn’t that they were of a differing opinion about the work show but that they wanted to censor the work shown by removing it altogether. Hate the work all you want but I don’t know that anyone who doesnt own this website has the right to demand their removal.

94 Fashionable Fabrics January 29, 2012 at 1:58 am

I apologize to my loyal customers. We DO NOT approve of this post and we will not continue to sponsor a blog that would post such offensive material! We are asking Wipup to pull our add.

95 Meela January 29, 2012 at 3:34 am

How ridiculous to pull your ad just when you are probably getting more traffic to your site than ever. Have you read this post properly or is this just a knee jerk reaction to the negative comments? What about all the positive comments – there are a lot of quilters and crafters out there who appreciate something that is thought provoking — not all quilters just make cat quilts.

96 Fashionable Fabrics January 29, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Thank you for your comments. You have your opinion and we respect that but I would like to explain our decision. Dropping our advertisement is not out of intolerance.
The decision was based on our own personal morals and values. We feel that this type of subject matter is not appropriate nor does it fit with our business. The blog can choose to write about anything they like but I do not have to sponsor or condone what others do. I can only do what I feel is right.
The blog did not inform us that this subject matter would be posted. If they would have respectfully notified us before hand we would have respectfully declined. I had to post a comment because they did not give us a choice to agree or disagree before it went public. I would not have posted a comment if I did not have my business associated with this blog. Please, respect our choice not to condone the words or images on that post. Everyone has a personal choice to agree or disagree. If only we can all do it with respect.
It saddens me that you would not shop with us because we are standing up for what we think is right for us, wither you agree with it or not. That shows the same judgment you placed on us. I understand I may lose customers over this but standing up for ones values and morals are more important than money.
Kind Regards,
Tonia

97 strikkelise January 30, 2012 at 5:09 am

A blogger having to ask a sponsor whether it is ok to post a specific topic is against all principles of censorship. You have not bettered the situation by your explanation.

98 Susan January 31, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Perhaps, you should read it again. It says, “the blog can choose to write about whatever they like” a sponsor has a right to pull their ad if they don’t agree. That is the sponsors right. I’m sure the sponsor would have liked prewarning to advoid being involved in this controversy. There is nothing in their explanation that suggests censorship.

99 strikkelise January 29, 2012 at 8:30 am

I am not one of your “loyal customers”, nor will I ever be after reading this comment. Sad, since your shop looked kinda interesting.

100 Liz L January 31, 2012 at 5:26 am

That’s a shame. It’s a terrific website. I wish everyone would take a cold shower.

101 marissa January 29, 2012 at 2:49 am

great post! i enjoyed reading the reactions and chawne’s follow up.

make sure to post photos the “give a f*ck” quilt when it’s done!

102 Lorraine January 29, 2012 at 7:38 am

I have a kid and even I was getting sick to death of all the “crafting with kids” stuff that was shown. Seriously? I love crafting with my kid but sometimes I like creating something for ME.

In an attempt to not be overly wordy, I just want to say thank you for this post. I was really close to deleting my feed, but not because of this post. But because I felt uninspired when coming here and just felt like everything was the same old shit I see everywhere else.

I’m following Chawne’s blog now. I’m definitely interested in this project.

103 Sarah January 30, 2012 at 10:12 pm

I completely agree. I seem to recall whipup having a bit more edge when I first started reading it years ago. Now the emphasis has been much more kid-centric and since I don’t have any it didn’t apply to me.
This post captured my attention and made me think. Both good things in my book. Thanks whipup for spotlighting something that gets people talking.

104 strikkelise January 29, 2012 at 8:04 am

Wow, Chawne. Your courage. Thank you for, among other things, showing people that crafts can be about more than “pretty”.
Wow, Kathreen, thank you for having this on Whipup.
And wow, some of the comments. I feel a bit on the outside of this, living very far from many of you and not being a native speaker of English. But my eyes are sore with reading some of the bigotry.

105 jjjjjoni January 31, 2012 at 12:55 am

Calling someone a “bigot” because they do not agree with your opinion, or with this blog post is really reducing the argument to elementary name-calling and is an attempt to polarize the argument.

There is, there MUST BE room for all shades of grey, for all kinds of dissenting opinions in democracy. Otherwise, we reach a state of autocracy, where all must agree, or face peril. Let’s choose not to go there.

The statement above where the sponsor pulled her ad was a respectful post, asking us to understand that she is not willing to advertise her business in a venue which conflicts with the policies of her company. Surely, that makes sense….business-wise? She was not saying that she had to approve, only that she would have liked to be notified, so that she could choose not to place her ad. That is not censorship at all.

Trying to confuse the issue and to throw words like “bigotry” and “censorship” into the discussion is a subtle but sure form of bullying. It’s really beneath us all.

106 Dani January 29, 2012 at 10:11 am

Beautiful post. Art has always had a solid foot in political and societal commentary. It’s supposed to make you think, feel, and consider. Did I wince a bit? Sure? Did I cringe at the N word? Sure did. And I am a black woman. But I love that Chawne has pushed the envelope and decided to put it into her quilt. And I’m glad that a site like WhipUp does not back away from promoting this type of creativity.

107 jafabrit January 29, 2012 at 10:31 am

I am one of the artists whose work is shown here ( the hand embroidery) and is participating in the quilt project. I will admit I am not a big fan of the eff word, not in daily usage or within artwork, BUT after looking at Chawne’s blog and work I decided to participate. I thought it would be an interesting juxtaposition and challenge technically and conceptually to take such a word and use what some consider a traditionally feminine craft to express it. That this project and some of Chawne’s work has elicited such bigotry, stereotyping and anger is very telling on so many levels. I thank goodness that I do not allow others to crush my voice as a woman and as a artist. It takes courage to put one’s work out there . The n word makes me cringe, so how someone has to live with being called one I can’t even begin to imagine. I don’t like the quilt with this word, however that is beside the point. This is Chawne’s experience she is confronting through her chosen medium, and several here have supported the very point she has made about being a woman, and an african american woman, with their bigotry, stereotyping and petulant umbrage. Ah, the power of words indeed!
Thankyou Whipup for having the courage to share Chawne’s work and voice.

108 Suann January 29, 2012 at 11:06 am

I look to your website as a one that contains family friendly material. I am saddened and offended that you chose to allow this post to be published on your blog. I understand that their should be a forum for artists like Chawne to present their material. More appropriate would have been a link and a warning for those who would choose to view this material.

109 Angela January 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Some of the above comments are applauding the artistic challenge being presented here by “having the courage to share Chawne’s work”. It’s amazing what passes for being enlightened.

I am an African American artist and when I saw the “quilt” (and I use the term loosely), that boldly proclaimed the n-word, I was stung nearly to the point of tears. I do not see what is bold or artistic or for that matter, mind-opening about being able to use foul language on fabric. It’s a shame that people like Davinci, Monet and Rembrandt wasted so much of their lives trying to hone their skills and present to the world their art. They should have just written the f-word on a canvas and been done with it!

I will unsubscribe from your blog. I found this post very offensive.

110 jafabrit January 29, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Some of our greatest artists, master painters faced censure and condemnation for the content and style of work. Goya’s darker works were severely criticized, yet now are seen as essential to understanding the human condition. You bring up Monet, and yet he and impressionism were harshly critisized and condemned, and let us not forget the fauvists whose work was spat on. Not liking a work isn’t a criteria for dismissing it’s credibility as artistic expression, if that were the case no art would be accepted as art, since our tastes are subjective. Anybody could write the f word, but not everybody canembroidery or quilt within a skill set that comes from years of experience. Well, now I am off to paint the f-word, just because I can ;)

111 Angela January 29, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Wow…you are really pushing it, comparing her ability to spell and sew to the likes of Goya. I don’t see what she has done as art. It shows no thought, other than the ability to shock.

I also have the right to be offended by it, just as you have the right to enjoy and esteem it. Good luck with your spelling.

112 jafabrit January 30, 2012 at 9:22 am

Angela, I never said you didn’t have a right to be offended, I merely mentioned that many artists, and much esteemed master artists have shocked with their work at one time or another. Thankfully they did not give up due to that.

113 Aubrey January 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Whether or not you think Chawne’s quilt is art on a level with the great masters, or even ‘art’ at all, is beside the point. You say you were hurt by her use of the word. Her whole point in creating the quilt is that SHE ALSO is hurt by the word, has been hurt in the past by others using that offensive word to label her, and she is trying to somehow ease that sting in some small way by confronting it. By sharing it with the world, she is trying to raise awareness in others that using words like these can be very powerful and hurtful.

I am truly sorry that you were hurt by it, but the sad fact is that the word has not gone away in the hundreds of years that it has been around, and pretending it doesn’t exist will certainly not help. I don’t think Chawne’s use of the word was in any way intended to condone it as acceptable.

114 Lori January 29, 2012 at 8:15 pm

I validate those who are arguing the juxtaposition of the craft- this is not the forum for that. Isn’t this where I get a lot of ideas for kids’ activities? This is like a beer pong tournament at my local McDonald’s.

Unsubscribing.

115 M February 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm

This is funny to me because I only ever go to McDonald’s when I’m drunk, I can’t imagine eating their food sober, and I can’t imagine feeding McDonald’s to my children… I think a beer pong tournament at McDonald’s would be awesome!

Also, I think relating the empowering and artistic use of a deeply hurtful, culturally complex, and historically significant word to beer pong is thoughtful, and cogent.

116 Olisa January 29, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Chawne’s work is breathtaking. I’m grateful there are artists like her in the world. Props to whipup for this post. ‘Nuff said.

117 Jewel January 29, 2012 at 10:52 pm

A previous commenter said: “wow if you see this as a completely offensive NEED TO DELETE post, you need to GROW UP.”

No, I am grown up. I subscribe to blogs that reflect the crafts/projects/lifestyle that I would like to associate with or learn about. If I want to learn about or peruse other forms of expressive art, I would have subscribed to them. I have been a subscriber to WhipUp for years and think that surely there could have been a better disclaimer with much more header space at the top – without the disguised F word title.

Before deciding if I will keep my subscription or not, I would like to know if there will be more articles like this. As far as I am concerned, this was a G-rated blog and in this one post, it went to R rated. Think about it – so many of us are moms with little children around (four children were behind me when I was reading it). There are enough incidences in our children’s lives where we as mamas have to intervene and explain difficult topics. I would rather do that outside of my pleasurable blog reading.

118 Marie January 30, 2012 at 12:02 am

My praise goes to Chawne’s quilt. Let’s choose to “wrap” ourselves in racism and hatred of all kinds. How powerful it would be if we all made a quilt thet said the word that was most hurtful to us? Or … We could just unsubscribe to this blog and continue to pretend that the world is all unicorns and lollipops.

119 Lori January 30, 2012 at 12:29 am

I just wanted to say thank you here for this post. The “F*CK” project is very entertaining to read & view on Chawne’s blog and I love the unexpected juxtaposition of the “feminine” craft with the “rough” language.

As for the controversial quilt, I had an idea where that was coming from, having been a long time lurker on Chawne’s blog. The quilt makes me uncomfortable but I think it should. It should make me think about why it makes me uncomfortable and why the word is used and by whom.

A lot of these comments make me sad because many of them seem very knee jerk. Yes, you have the right to voice disapproval and to unsubscribe, but I think we all need to think about why we have the responses we do to certain words as well as to both projects.

There are many (most) times when crafting for me is mindless and just something to keep my hands busy. I think a take-away for me from this post & the brouhaha it raised is this: should I be more intentional in my crafting? Do I have something I need to say through what I make? What would it mean for me to be this intentional in my own way?

As for what Kathreen chooses to post on this blog, I say have at ‘er. It’s *your* blog, not mine. If I don’t like what you post or that day’s topic doesn’t interest me, I can slack off at work on a different site for that day.

120 elaine January 30, 2012 at 1:04 am

hurrah! for a post on whip-up that is not g-rated and ‘for the kiddies’.

This post has staved off what I thought would be the inevitable removal of whip-up from my rss feed as it transformed from a general craft blog to a kiddie-centric snorefest.

Quillting has traditionally been used to tell stories. Chawne’s quilting continues that tradition and brings quilting into the modern world.

Any old person can recreate a log cabin quilt, it takes someone far more special to confront and provoke and tell a story.

121 jafabrit January 30, 2012 at 9:29 am

One of my most FAVOURITE stories regarding textile art is of a British solider in a Nazi prison camp who created an artwork and wrote in morse code “f*ck hilter”. It was displayed in several camps over the years and the Germans never noticed lol!
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/sep/03/tony-casdagli-father-stitching-nazis

122 Bean January 30, 2012 at 4:21 pm

this story is magnificent, thank you for sharing it! Wow!!

123 Heidi January 30, 2012 at 2:58 am

Love Chawne’s %$#&$ awesome work. Love to the posters who were interested in having a discussion about this topic. Love to Kathreen for not only posting it, but for planning on posting it in the future. I’m in- new subscriber #1…

124 sam January 30, 2012 at 4:16 am

I am in support of reclaiming hurtful words, and I myself do it.

If you are someone who has never been the target of a word meant to demean a particular marginalized group (in other words, the target of a racial slur, a homophobic slur, a transphobic slur, a misogynist slur, etc.), you do not get to judge. Period. And even if you know the sting of a homophobic slur but not racism, for example, you do not get to judge someone who has experienced racism. They own their words, you own your words.

Now, for another example, if two African American women would like to have an intelligent discussion about reclamation of a certain racial slur, that would be a discussion worth having, even if they end up having to agree to disagree. They can each choose to fight racism and its effects in their own ways. It’s not my place as a white woman to tell them what to do. They know best, I don’t.

If you don’t like seeing the n-word on a quilt or anywhere at all, well…you shouldn’t. It’s horrible. But while I and other white people can go days/weeks/months without it in our lives, too many people do not have that luxury. It is thrown in their faces whether they like it or not. Your temporary discomfort for a few seconds is nothing compared to being called such a thing over and over again.

If you are sickened by racism and the ways it is expressed, go do something about it! Don’t get angry at Whip-Up or Chawne for reminding you of the ugly truth about how racism (overt and subtle) still exists and happens everyday. Chawne’s quilt is not perpetuating racism. Turning a blind eye to racism and not speaking up about it when you encounter it does. If you never want to see the n-word again, make sure its usage becomes completely unacceptable in every corner of the world. (That goes for all other hateful words too.)

As for kids getting exposed to these things – trust me, it’s going to happen one way or another. Would you like them to be prepared by explaining to them how hurtful racism (and other -isms) is and what kinds of thing they shouldn’t say? Or do you want to find out that your kid picked up some offensive word from another kid and has been using it freely because they don’t know any better? It sucks for kids to learn how crummy the world is and how hurtful we are to each other, but at least you can prevent them from being part of the crowd that is spreading that hurt.

125 sam January 30, 2012 at 4:34 am

Seriously, everyone, why is it a better option to criticize/shame Chawne for making art about the racism she has encountered (even though you can find plenty of deniers who will claim there is no racism anymore) than to criticize/shame the actual racists who think it’s okay to treat someone like crap just because their skin is a different color?

126 Jennifer Can Quilt January 30, 2012 at 7:24 pm

I love your response to the multiple parents who have expressed concern over having their children accidentally exposed to this post; children learn the power of words from their parents. Were I a parent, I would feel lucky to have the chance to talk about the “bad” words and the issues surrounding them before my kid learned it somewhere else.

127 Hilary January 30, 2012 at 5:50 am

Seeing a site that has traditionally been a craft one take such a deliberate, radical turn by using race baiting, cloaked in the shroud of ‘art’, is the bigger issue here and quite deplorable.

Knowing beforehand the level of controversy the subject would cause and then posting it anyway, exemplifies the definition of race baiting and is quite hurtful for both sides, not to mention an ignorant choice to make.

One must also question the mindset of the person(s) behind the blog who would welcome such controversy and drama into their life and threatening that there is more to come.

128 Ellen January 30, 2012 at 10:47 am

Kathreen, Thanks for being brave enough to tackle such difficult subject matter.

I have to admit that while I am personally not offended by curse words, racial slurs touch a nerve for me since I grew up and still live in the American South. But once I read Chawne’s blog and understood her background and intentions, it made sense to me as a provocative work of art. I agree with another comment above that mentions the powerful image of Chawne wrapped in this quilt. That image gives the quilt context and a meaning beyond the word. Whether I agree with Chawne’s use of the word isn’t important, but it’s the reaction that comes from us as viewers that matters. Art should make you think and question your world. This certainly does that.

And what better way to raise issues that face women than through a medium that has been traditionally relegated to women? I think we’ll be seeing more and more challenging quilts in the coming years. People make things for different reasons, and as makers, we should respect that.

I’d also like to say that leaving impolite comments on blogs is too easy. Discussion should be encouraged, but we should remember that in fact we are speaking to other human beings and not typing anonymously into an abyss. It’s slightly ironic that sensitivity was the subject in question here.

129 Crystal January 30, 2012 at 10:50 am

Chawne blows me away with her talent, but I do find the words on her quilts offensive. As a quilter/knitter/crafter I enjoy doing these things because I find them relaxing. Sometimes meditative. My finished work makes me feel happy. A wool hat on my sons head to keep him warm. A quilt on our bed to keep away the chill. Placemats to set meals upon. I fill my home with my handmade to create a cozy and warm retreat. I am aware that everyone crafts for different reasons and I support those that may craft to push the bar. Different strokes for different folks. The word nigger makes my skin crawl, but I think she did a great job on those quilts.

130 Suzanne January 30, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Wow. People sure are quick to proclaim their “correctness” these days.
This site may have lost some followers, but it has gained at least one.

131 susan January 30, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Reactions here amaze me! Trot down to the New York City Library and see a Ku Kux Klan ‘costume’ presented in a curated setting alongside other ‘cultural objects of value’. You can debate its inclusion in many ways, but it the most confronting textile piece I think I have seen. So now all the censors on whip-up have another cause – complaining about (really) offensive textiles displayed without warning in a publicly funded library.

132 susan, canberra, australia January 30, 2012 at 7:37 pm

(1) there’s a great documentary in this – where’s the independent producer/director when you need them?
(2) you need a huge JP Getty grant to fund you to ride subways, visit old folks’ homes and sit in the public gallery of Congress to stimulate debate, connection and community relationships – you are a super-highway of opinion exchange and the social value of that is priceless!

133 amollenh January 30, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Well this was entertaining to say the least. I’m a midget with only one leg. I’d give anything to be called a nigger rather than “shrimp with a gimp” anyday. Neither bothers me nor brings on a big shock so I really cannot relate to anyone being offended. Keep up the good work. I make my own clothes and other items because I have to so I really appreciate blogs like yours. Keeps me inspired.

134 Stephinie February 1, 2012 at 10:43 am

Wow! I just read through my whipup newsletter this morning & was amazed at the quilt controversy. {I’ve read all the follow ups too, here & at Chawne’s} I recently wrote a post in my own space about being honest and real here online…. I feel like there is a lot of fluff & sparkly stuff and not enough real life. As an lover of Action Pack and your space here…. I am a totally freaking amazed at your honesty & authenticity. Truly. I am grateful for all the commenters here that were able to look beyond the shock of these words and into the possible meanings behind the art…. especially the hope of healing in any capacity.
xo ~
stephinie

135 nita February 1, 2012 at 10:59 am

By your words you are justified and by your words you are condemned; cancelling my subscription.

136 meela February 1, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Then clearly Kathreen is justified and you are condemned :)

137 Carolyn February 2, 2012 at 7:46 am

I clicked over to read Chawne’s response for making the “nigger” quilt. I don’t understand that, if a label is so offensive (and it certainly is a deplorable word) why use your time and energy to create a piece that denigrates yourself and the racial community you are a part of. I do understand that Chawne has probably achieved her purpose in generating discussion. Nonetheless, these are harsh, horrible, ugly words, with disrespectful meanings. If we are to move past these labels, we should not use them in everyday language.
I don’t think I would want to snuggle in to one of these quilts :)

138 John February 2, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I love this post and I love Chawne’s work. A friend of mine received a quilt from her as a gift and it’s an amazing piece of work.

I think what I love most is how it challenges the norms. Art and language are constantly evolving, but for some reason crafting doesn’t seem to keep up. As a male knitter and spinner, I get many a strange gaze whenever I enter a yarn shop or wear a handknit item. I love that Chawne’s pieces are bold and progressive, in a craft that is typically much the opposite. And I don’t really understand the negative attitude towards swearing for the most part. It expresses and emotion, harmlessly I’d say. So?

139 Megan February 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm

I have seen Chawne’s work through Flickr, and I will say I admire a lot of the things she makes but not these “curse word” crafts. Yes, I find them offensive. Why do we teach our children not to talk like that or say these things about other people? I think because we recognize that these words try to strip away our dignity as people. I do think art is supposed to inspire and stretch our thoughts, but I don’t think we have to do that by taking down people around us, which is what I think this kind of language does. Honestly, I think it is a certain numbness we have reached as a culture regarding the use of these words. That people just need to get over their “stuffiness”. *rolls eyes* Honestly, how are we going to teach our children to have respect for others if the language we use does not reflect that?

140 leanne February 6, 2012 at 8:34 am

Hi Kath – I was over at my google reader and your post about this post came up (I’d obviously missed this one) and of course I had to visit to see what all the fuss was about – WOW – its like walking into a storm in a teacup and I’m sure it will have tongues wagging for a while ! its a bit sad that you’ve lost a sponsor but each to their own I suppose – as they say you can’t please all the people all the time and I’m so glad that you aren’t trying – thanks for bringing some controversy into the otherwise very polite quilting world :)

141 Chase l Oh The Cuteness! February 7, 2012 at 4:21 am

Wow, I can’t believe how offended people are by curse words. Obviously the artist who made these is making us think about these words in a strange context and it’s supposed to be a little disconcerting. Personally I think it’d be fantastic to have a “cracker” quilt in my house, just pain white with the word in red in the bottom corner. It’s on the to-do list.

142 nh February 12, 2012 at 8:27 am

What were YOU thinking?!!! Art – absolutely not! Thought provoking – maybe – that ignorance still lives.

143 Kate March 8, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Someone pushed this post to me on Twitter, and I was intrigued enough to explore the rest of the site. I see several people are unsubscribing; however, I’ll be adding your posts to my reader. Thank you for featuring many aspects of craft, even those that make us uncomfortable.

144 Judy March 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Personally, I can do without it. Examine all you like…but kindly keep it to yourself. I have watched our language degrade abysmally over the years. Being able to say anything does not constitute the right, or the necessity, to do so.

145 jg March 25, 2012 at 3:43 pm

i know i’m late to the party, but i applaud you for sharing this post. intriguing to read the comments, though in some way it saddens me to read how this work is being received by some quilters.

146 erin malloy April 20, 2012 at 1:22 am

AMEN SAM!!!

147 erin malloy April 20, 2012 at 1:25 am

I’m mortified that some of these quilters are acting like puritans. ART and quilting is an ART is often used not just for beauty and comfort, but to bring about awareness and put a light on a “dark corner” of life. If we’d stop repressing everything and start addressing, this world would be a different place. And hearing a swear word won’t kill your 6-year old. Lighten up.

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