Tag Archives: textiles

Vagina Quilts

For the first time to my knowledge, Pacific International Quilt Festival 2004 (San Jose, CA) showed vagina quilts. Even listed them as such in their program. Near the bottom but not last.

If my memory serves me, there were 10-12 quilts in this category, of which a good number did resemble vaginas, well vulvae actually.

My first reaction was to want them to change the name. Then I wanted to see them have a vulva quilt section as well as a penis quilt section next time.

But after more thought, I’d really rather just see that we’ve all moved on to be able to use vagina, vulva, and penis representations in our quilts as we wish — for their beauty, for the message, for reasons we don’t really understand — without having to cordon it off over in this special permission corner of a show.

My hunch is this is done as much if not moreso for the viewers as for the artists. I suspect there is a small minority which would claim offense at turning the corner and being faced with a quilted vulva image, albiet beautiful, and spoil it for the rest of us. Or we could make this work in the other direction by expressing our appreciation to the quilt show organizers for showing these quilts and could they allow them anywhere in the show next year please.

I don’t see vagina quilts or anything of the sort listed this year. I’m looking forward to the next shows.

Silicon Valley

I’ve gone to many events at the Santa Clara Convention Center in San Jose, CA over the last 20 years. Most of them were for hi-tech seminars, symposia, fairs of one sort or another for this new suite of computer languages, that new application launch, some new business line.

I was usually interested in 3% of it and had to wade through crowds of dazed computer junkies or caffeine-blooded maniacs as well as over-the-top booth marketeers to get what I wanted. Ok, I admit, I was pretty well caffeine-blooded myself. As you’d expect, there were loads and loads of nerdy guys. There were women but they(we?) looked like the men(?). And we never had to negotiate long lines at the rest room.

So when I went to this same Center for my first quilting show a few years ago, I had to keep checking my bearings to be sure I really was where I thought I was. This Center had had such a dry feeling and now it was coming alive. There were so many women they turned almost every men’s rest room into a women’s room.

Then I saw a quilt called “Hysterectomy”. Holy quilt block, Batman! This is too much for one body to handle. Tears came to my eyes. Can there really be life in here? This is the land of the chip — the non-emotional, lie there and do stuff without making a sound, faster and faster, no complaining silicon chip. And now we’re going to talk about the body? And not just any body, but rather intimate parts of someone’s female body … that was in trouble?

Well, sure, I’m game but don’t you know, I felt like whispering, it’s not permitted. Big time. People around here just can’t tolerate it. They get very uncomfortable.

Slowly over the years I’d learned to tone it down too, to cover it up, to just Be Quiet about this stuff.

But at some point, something gave. That was just not going to work. Continuing along those lines kinda felt like death to me. And I started coming back to life. I think this show and this quilt in particular were a part of the turning point for me.

Of course, coming back had its embarrassing moments, like the time I told two coworkers at work I’d taken a shower on a recent trip and hadn’t closed the bathroom door and the heat alarm went off and I jumped out of the tub, soaking wet, running around the place to find a chair to hop up and take the battery out of the blasted thing. I thought this was hilarious. They looked at me as if I’d just grown antennae with eyes on the end of them.

I wanted to say, “and you’re naked under your clothes,” but thought better of it. Poor people to be locked up like that.

I can still remember that Batman moment. Thank you to whoever expressed herself through that quilt and entered it into that show. We don’t always know how we affect each other.