If you are not a Quilter, then this post might not mean anything to you…or maybe you’ll find something that you can relate to in whatever profession/hobby/group you participate in.
A Fire Was Lit
A few days ago, The MQG “Mothership” wrote a blog post which honestly slipped under the radar it seems for many people (myself included) until it was mentioned in a few Facebook posts today. I definitely encourage you to read the full posts that they wrote [linkhere]; but here is my summary.
:: It meant to explain what derivative artwork meant, then explained what one must do in order to use and or submit derivative pieces into a Quilt Show. The post is also simultaneously encouraging people to be true to their creative genius and create original work.
Now this is a timely post for the organization since the QuiltCon 2017 juried quilt show entries are open and they are encouraging their members to ask and attribute accordingly. Seems simple enough, right? Hahaha…Wrong.
Not only is derivative artwork crazy subjective, and legally only a court of law can determine the outcome, yet some would argue that the tone in the post is too high-level, too confusing, and what prompted much of the debate is that it sounds too much like a decree from the “Quilt Police”. Which for an organization born out of rebellion for what was a static aesthetic (my words, not theirs)…it does seem strange.
This of course did not sit well with many people and before you knew it membership cards are being burned (not really; but it often feels like it when you are in the heat of the moment).
What do you stand for?
I happily support and am a member of The MQG and while it, like all organizations has issues, at its heart I truly believe it has a desire to bring people together who have a passion for a particular aesthetic of quilting.
Now that aesthetic you see is part of the controversy. People rallied behind it…or what each quilter interpreted it as in the beginning; but soon enough, people started to feel excluded because what they made didn’t marry up to what others were making and cheering about.
Personally, I subscribe to the notion that everyone should create whatever they want, call it whatever they want and OWN IT. Yet, with that freedom comes the understanding that you cannot get upset when someone else does not agree with those same definitions. I make quilts, some of them are modern, some of them are contemporary, and some of them are simply quilts…uncategorized, yet equally as amazing as those that have definitions.
Some might call me biased because I am the Founder/President of a local modern quilt guild; which I started because the other guilds in my area were not making the types of quilts that I wanted to be inspired by, and the people…while lovely and crazy talented, were not my tribe.
I wanted to find my tribe and couldn’t, so I started a guild and they came…see what I did there (build it and they will come…hahaha). Now in full disclosure, I didn’t know what tribe meant until a year or so into the guild when things just clicked, I was inspired by the quilts people were making, and conversations with others flowed easily. We could nerd out over the newest fabrics to be released, or how important it was that we pressed our seams open, or squealing over what we saw on social media, etc.
Modern This & Modern That
People have said (I know this because I hear it within my guild) that when local modern quilt guilds talk too much about modern this and modern that they alienate people; yet I disagree.
Let’s think of it this way, if you are part of a Musical Theater group, one would expect to hear all about Hamilton, Rent, and Annie; not the latest rendition of the play Romeo & Juliet…unless it is set to some sick rhymes by Lin Manuel Miranda; vice versa if you are part of a Dramatic Theater group. Yet, there are groups that welcome Theater Appreciation which includes everything and that’s awesome.
And You Are Telling Me This Because...
So what does all of this have to do with The MQG and their post…well, it seems everything. People want to belong to something larger then themselves; but at the same time people want to be noticed for being an individual. I do this and I guarantee that you do it too.
The last week of university, I was honored when the Dean of my Art School called all of us in the auditorium that day, Artists…it was the highest honor that I could have imagined, since that word (to me) was only handed out to those who rose above and did amazing things. P.S. I’m still not comfortable with saying I’m an Artist, even all these years later.
No different when attending QuiltCon and being in a room when Jacquie Gering called herself a Maker and went on to explain how we are all makers in our own right...tears flowed. Now, I’m not blind to the fact that not all labels are good, and maybe the majority are not; but there are those that can be inspiring and build confidence.
When The MQG wrote their post it seems that many took it to mean that they were being inched out because they felt that their work was not relative, important or worthy to be seen because it was a derivative or inspired by something else that existed. I love the written word; but know first-hand that it is hard to get your point across 100% of the time without making someone upset or angry. We all say dumb things now and again, and I don’t have to answer to thousands of members, look out for lawyers or the Federal Gov’t (since The MQG is a 501c3 organization).
Additionally, people would argue that this was a decision that members should have had a voice in making; but was this post really a decision, an educational lesson, or a request to properly attribute your work when it is shown. The MQG thought one way; but others disagree.
As someone who has volunteered for not only this organization; but other organizations, it is easy to promise one thing; but get caught up in the minutia of delivering on it. Transparency is one thing that is thrown around a lot lately and it is one thing that organizations struggle with at all sizes.
There are so many things that I don’t presume to understand; but I do know that running something of this magnitude is hard work and you will not please everyone. Also, isn’t that why we have leaders/officers in the first place, we have to trust that they know what they are doing and if not, we need to comment in a constructive manner to let our voices be heard, and stand up to volunteer. The same is true of the organizations, they should welcome the constructive stuff and work together to make changes.
This posts might have gotten a little too preachy, so I apologize; but I get uber-passionate about this subject and I like to give people the benefit of a doubt. I do not have the same experiences of those who are upset with The MQG, so I want to hear their side of things because it will help me to become a better guild President, a better MQG member and honestly a better person.
Remember as a member if you have a concern, you have a choice…you can provide constructive criticism/possible solutions (which I know many are doing throughout social media and sending emails accordingly) or you can complain without offering possible solutions or offering to step up yourself to change things for the better. And as an organization you have a responsibility to your members to listen to their concerns and come together to work things out.
Please take the time to hear both sides and remember that The MQG came about because a few people had a vision, let’s not forget that is how we will change things as well.