Riding the Fringes

So, I have been thinking very much about this post from Stephanie Forsyth’s fabulous blog, and even Melly Testa’s follow up on her blog.

When I started quilting, and especially when I moved back to Chicago from Baltimore, I found that I wanted to find a group of like minded people to share my work with and learn from.  Instead of feeling included, I feel like an outsider, riding the fringes of their pasttime.

op2And if that’s not enough, though some people would think I’m in some kind of “inner circle” of quilters at shows or meetings, I am not.  Even there I have had instances of rejection, times where people are in on some secret group that I’m not privy to, who look at me and decide to sit somewhere else.  And though some of these are more like minded folks art wise, I end up again feeling like the outsider who’s riding the fringes of acceptance.

Last year at Houston I had a catchphrase that I have since extended to my daily life:

I do not need your acceptance to have a good time.

This mantra helped me in several situations at Houston, and the time I had exceeded the time I had the year before (which had real downer moments, even though my quilt was in the show).  I have since discussed this topic with a few select people, and there are a few things I’ve boiled it down to that could be what set some outsiders apart from general “acceptance”.

  • They just don’t get the concept of our art, and because they don’t get it, they decide they can’t be seen liking it, even though they may think it’s amazing.
  • They are intimidated.  You can take this however which way you want.  Intimidated because I’m at this stage in my art at the age I’m at.  Intimidated by the types of art I create, or the electronic materials I often use.  Intimidated because I wear a skull on 99% of my clothing and therefore I must be “subversive”.  And feel free to replace “intimidated” by “weirded out”.  Don’t hate on me or my art because you personally don’t want to use lights in your quilts.
  • Their own need for acceptance by their perceived group of peers creates a “high school” effect, where they exclude others for the air of exclusivity.
  • That because I work a full time job, I must not be a “real” artist, and therefore not part of the club.  (um, Lisa Call, Lynn Krawczyk, and many many others… and I fucking dare you to say they are not artists)

I could spend my whole life psychoanalyzing others to figure out why I always feel like I’m riding the fringes of accepted quilt society.  I spent my whole school career being a “nerd” girl who liked boy things and never wore makeup… who joined the “strange” groups like Drama and Chess Club…who read comic books and played Dungeons and Dragons.  I know exactly what it’s like, and why it feels “bad”. But I’m a grown ass woman, and I don’t need people’s acceptance to be happy.  I’m not going to change who I am to try to fit in to these groups anymore.
Open Studios 2012 HoustonThe “nerds” are starting to see our day in the sun in pop culture, and so are we “outsider” quilty people.  We are testing your limits.  We do not look like the average quilter.  We are younger, we are weirder, we are using that materials you would never use in your quilt.  And I’m proud to be part of that group.

Stephanie touched on something that I have felt for a long time.  Her persona in person is different from her blog “voice”.  I have so much admiration for Megan Dougherty and Maddie Kertay who blogged with full on “salt” from day one of their blog.  I self censored because I didn’t want to offend clients or buyers of my work, lectures, and workshops.  Those ladies both have huge followings.  It made me think…the people I’d have to censor for, are they really my audience anyway?
selfnot usedI recently decided to redo my head shot (the one at the top) and I felt so strongly to wear my skull t shirt in it.  It’s more “me” and it’s more how I am everyday versus the trussed up “clean” web version of myself.  I think it’s time to do that for the blog too, and I hope you will stick around and ride the fringes with me.

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I have to get this off my chest – at IQA and side rant

I will post Day 3 of the IQA show in a bit, but this has bothered me all day.

To start this off right, in my class last night on Tyvek, I sat at the back of the class, and next to me sat a latecomer, and we were the last two that got anything handed out. We were handed our Tyvek, and later in the class I heard her tell the teacher that she did not get the Tyvek since she was at the back. At that point, I didn’t think much of it, but I was annoyed- I know full well she got that Tyvek, and just scammed her way into more.

Today’s class is on foiling, and I was the “teacher’s pet”, meaning I volunteered ahead of time to be the helper to take roll call, etc, so the teacher doesn’t have to. We had a great time foiling away. This same woman who sat to my right last night is now sitting in the row in front of me. Several people were in the same class from the night before and we were having a great time. I brought a rubber stamp of a pear, and it was a big hit, since my samples using the pear came out so well. At about an hour left, I packed all of my materials up in a plastic bin I use to tote my things to class, but left the lid off. I traded half a sheet of purple foil I had in my sample pack for a half a sheet of pink with another classmate. Since we had so much time left, I decided to mess around with a glue gun and my sheet of copper colored foil. When I returned to my seat about 10 minutes later, I wanted to accent the copper with gold foil. I looked to the top of my box where I left my samples of foil. It was gone. I tore the box apart, to no avail. I asked if anyone near me picked up any foil that fell on the floor? No, everyone says. Some ask what’s wrong, and I explain my foil is missing. Several start helping me look. We all turn around and survey the stations I had been in in the room, no luck.

At this point, I’m pissed. I say so all close by seatmates can hear, but not casuing a scene, “that if they wanted it that bad, they could have asked and I would have given it to them” and “I hope when they look at those pears in the foil they think of what they have done”. I even say “You know, I paid for this class too. This is wrong on so many levels.” and my coup-de-grace “I believe Karma will get whoever did this ten fold.” Now this woman has the nerve to say “I believe that too”. Everyone is sympathetic. But it was gone, so there was nothing to be done about it now. The class seems somewhat over and my seatmates leave.

As teacher’s pet, I begin cleaning up as people are filing out. I unplug one of the irons in the back of the room, and clear off that table except for the cooling iron. I come back to the ironing table a minute later, and I see the woman leaving the room (huh? again?) and on the table near the iron is a stack of foil. My foil. With the pears visible. It was not there before. And after checking the foil, the half sheet of purple I did not trade away is still not there.

Now I know someone will say that I must not have seen it there, and maybe I misplaced it, but I was not the only one looking. And there was another stack of foil that was there that I returned to someone else on that very table witht he cooling iron, so I am certain it was cleared, and we commiserated that it was my classmates’ foil and not mine. I know it was that woman. In my heart, I know it.

Now, If I see her again it will take ALL of my strength of will not to cuss her out right there. Someone told me to bless her, because nothing is more a kick in the shin than killing them with kindness when they know they were wrong. I’ll tell you my thought in a bit.

But this is the real meat of it. When have you ever heard of a QUILTER who did something like that? I mean, I have met a few curmudgeonly quilters, but NEVER a thief or a liar quilter. How sad must your life be that you steal supplies from other students when taking a QUILTING CLASS?

My husband and many other family members will tell you that I am not as nice as I may seem in person, and no one is more protective of her “things” than me. My stuff is MY STUFF. I am the kind of person who yells at children to get off my lawn, and glares out the window when a car goes by that I don’t like the look of. I am very protective of my stuff! I am the Queen of Mean! I even have a tiara now.

In the end, this really, really hurt me. I felt safe in the quilting class enough to not lock up all of my things like I normally would. I was doing everything I could to help other classmates out as teacher’s pet. And that was my reward? For a good chunk of time, I was heartbroken, thinking I was some sort of target. I was weak, this was my fault, I should have not been so nice to everyone and hoarded my things in the back of the room where my back is to no one.

But now…. I know it was the action of sad person who has nothing better in life than to steal what was someone else’s and lie to good and giving people for more than what everyone else got.

I hope it tortures her everyday to know that I know what she did. And by writing this I am releasing this negative energy out and I am going to move on. Thanks for “listening”.

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