Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Getting up in each other's stories"

"It's in the understanding of each other's stories, the good and the hard to hear, we gain a better understanding of how we can support and connect as humans for the Greater Good." ----Sabrina Zarco

There's been a really interesting thread going on the Quilt Art listserv about whether or not artists should use ethnic themes and fabrics if they are not personally of that group. It began with a rather innocent question from a new art quilter who wanted to know if it was OK to use African fabrics in a quilt she was working on. One of the best things about this discussion is that it's drawn several lurkers into the discussion who really have had some terrific comments especially the one above by Sabrina Zarco over at the Chicana Creating Art through Chaos blog. After her first post in this discussion, I went to her blog and immediately put her on my Google Reader subscription list. In her first post, she said that the important thing was to respectfully use those themes and materials. An African-American quilter on the listserv added her thoughts that she loved Asian fabrics and clothing and incorporated them into her work and personal style. Sabrina's thoughts really expressed what I believe. I love everything about Japanese culture and art work. I taught myself sashiko embroidery after seeing it the first time. I treasure my friendships with my Japanese quilting friends, Toshi and Miyoko from the Sugar Creek Quilters, and always consider how much richer my life and work are because our lives intersected.

If the English as a Second Language class hadn't met in the library media center for several years, I would have missed out on mixing up my life with the wonderful culture of Mexico. My Day of the Dead quilt hangs in my office at school now along with my pictures of those wonderful, hard-working students. After meeting the late Cuesta Benberry at the Quilter's Hall of Fame, I became fascinated with African American quilts and their history. Think how narrow and grey our lives would be if we didn't "get up in each other's stories" as George C. Wolfe said.

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