Let me put this bluntly…

After a few of the comments on my post about certain responses to the Give a Fuck quilt out here in the Interwebs I think that perhaps I need to be a bit more direct, that my analytical approach left too much room for the misinterpretation of my words. So let me be as direct as I humanly can:

I do not care if you like this quilt or any other quilt.

I do not care if you want to tell the entire world that you dislike this quilt, or any other quilt. That is your right.

Seriously, your taste and opinion are yours. You have an absolute right to them and though I may not share your taste I really don’t care about taste at all, whether you share my taste or not. It is pretty much irrelevant to me in terms of genuine critical dialogue, which is what matters to me.

If you feel compelled to go a step further and question the validity of the maker as a human being, to question their value as a person of faith (or not), to question whether someone who would make such a quilt is fit to be a parent, or declare that such a quilt should never be made because you cannot see the possible reasons, then I have a problem.

Nobody is required to like anything, but how we express our opinions matters. There is a huge difference between saying, “I cannot stand that quilt; it is an affront to my sense of decency,” and stating that someone who would make this quilt, “shouldn’t be allowed to be a mother.” If we as a community cannot understand that difference I fear that we are a community in name only.

I hope we can indeed be a community, or at least reasonably decent human beings.


For those of you who have yet to see the quilt in question, here it is:

(photo via happenings on chaos ranch)

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20 Responses to Let me put this bluntly…

  1. 1
    JenniferB says:

    And this, right here is why I keep coming back to your blog, even though I am not a quilter.

    Well said, and true for life, not just for quilts!

  2. 2
    jodi says:

    Here! Here! Very well put. I agree wholeheartedly, even if you don’t care where I do or not! 🙂 Ha!

  3. 3

    I don’t know what the fuss is all about I like it. Four little letters…

  4. 4
    LoriM says:

    Agree completely!

  5. 5
    sherry reynolds says:

    Mr. Knauer,
    I don’t personally care for the quilt, and hold nothing against those involved. Undeniably, morals, values and standards have changed, and may very well be hard to understand ON BOTH SIDES. With all change, comes conflict. I don’t believe it is about who is right or wrong, but i do believe it is about taking responsibilty to the choices we have made. That being said, i do have a problem with the “aftermath”. It seems to me, that you are now crying “foul” because you perceive some of the opinions as “fundamentally dismissive to the thoughts of others”. Mr. Knauer, has it occured to you, that the quilt was just as “fundamentally dismissive to the thoughts of others” as their opinions were to you?

    It was a choice to be involved with the quilt, knowing very well it would not sit well with some. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. I understand what you are saying about “genuine critical dialogue”, but also understand, that crying “foul” because people don’t use it, in my opinion, is innapropriate at this stage. With all due respect, just as you continue to fight for “genuine critical dialogue” there are those who will continue to fight for morals, values and standards they believe in. Sincerely, Sherry Reynolds

    • 5.1
      thomas says:

      I find it hard to believe that I have to say this again:

      There is a huge difference between saying, “I cannot stand that quilt; it is an affront to my sense of decency,” and stating that someone who would make this quilt, “shouldn’t be allowed to be a mother.”

      This is not about anyone’s right to “fight for morals, values and standards they believe in.” You are free to do so, but the moment it crosses over from being a discussion of the object to that of the worth of the maker we have a problem.

      I am sorry, but questioning a person’s fitness as a person of faith or as a parent simply are not equal reactions to potentially exposing someone to a word they find objectionable.

      • sherry reynolds says:

        I DO understand what you are saying, but obviously you have missed what i was saying. you are asking people to show respect when obviously they feel no respect was shown to them. its a 2 way street.

        • thomas says:

          Right. So, what you are saying is that the use of the word fuck is an affront to your and other people’s morals, and that when I or other makers do not censor ourselves to conform to that moral standard we are inviting personal attacks and disrespectful behavior, because by making things that might offend someone somewhere we are bringing questions about our value as human beings or our fitness as parents upon ourselves?

          • sherry reynolds says:

            What i’m saying is this. The makers of the quilt were as equally offensive and “fundamentally dismissive to the thoughts of others” as the derogatory comments shown in return. Why? because morals, values and standards have changed and there is a tremendous lack of understanding and respect being shown by both sides. Bottom line, it was, in my opinion, a bad choice all around. You, however, are allowing one side to step over the line and crying “foul” to the other. Making an issue out of their words at this point, is like watching a 2 yr old throw a temper tantrum.

  6. 6
    Rashida says:

    Thank you!! Totally agree! I love you.

  7. 7
    Carol says:

    “Cluster fuck” … 🙂

  8. 8
    sheri says:

    Well said. Aren’t we all supposed to be individuals each one unique in our own way? Quilting is creative expression just like any other art form. I may not fall madly in love with every quilt or picture I see. I do however admire the talent in the stitch or brush stroke. I take classes to learn the process not to carbon copy the sample. If I didn’t care for the word in the quilt I wouldn’t make one. Would the offended feel better if it said intercourse? As grandma used to say “Small minds Small thinking” If that is all they see when looking at this Quilt then they have no concept or vision.

  9. 9
    suzanne says:

    The only thing I regret is I did not get to make a square. I have two F*ck phrases that would have been grand in this quilt. I so wish I could have participated or known about it. I might have sent several friends running, but so be it!

  10. 10
    Andee in AZ says:

    It is a quilt that won’t easily be forgotten! It isn’t something I would want on the back of my couch, but I wouldn’t have a problem if it was on the back of someone else’s. This is after all America where last time I checked we still had freedom of expression!

  11. 11
    Linda Seward says:

    I only found out about this quilt today and am really enjoying the controversy. I absolutely agree with your comments and with the maker’s right to create this work. Over the years there have been (and continue to be) many artists doing work that offend certain people – look at the pieces featured by the Young British Artists in the Saatchi Gallery in London in the 90’s, with sharks cut in half, flies being electrocuted and lying dead on the floor(both by Damien Hirst), many of the war pieces by Jake and Dinos Chapman such as Great Deeds Against the Dead (featuring maimed and decapitated toy soldiers), a head made of blood by Marc Quinn (unfortunately no longer in existence because the cleaner unplugged the fridge that was keeping it cool!) – and so on. While many of these pieces were probably intentionally offensive so as to attract attention, no one was complaining that the makers of these shouldn’t be parents! Why do people feel that quilt artists are different and that they can be criticized in this way?

  12. 12
    isabel says:

    Thomas, I attended your lecture at Quiltcon in Austin. It was so refreshing to actually hear from a textile artist who understands and appreciates the post-modern world. I left a medieval convent school and entered into the light of the modern world in 1968. Still, it was a few years before I ever heard the f-word. Now I use it a lot. Much to the chagrin of my even-tempered sweetie! Take care and keep up the good work.

  13. 13
    Candy says:

    I get it Thomas.
    Some people will never get it. You cant know how long to try to emphasise your point before the exercise becomes futile. Thats a hard thing to come to terms with because it is in your nature to desire clear understanding. Not unlike many others! Well done for trying.

  14. 14
    April says:

    I just have to step up and say – I’m not a fan of the F word, but I am a fan of your work, your fabric and your style. I love your sense of humor! Keep doing what you love and if others don’t get it – don’t give a ….

  15. 15
    JulieL says:

    I looked at this quilt and thought, “Why would anyone spend so much time featuring such an ugly word? The colors are beautiful, there are many, many hours invested…whatever could have possessed this person to make this?” And that is why I appreciate it, I have to think. Things that make us think are good.

  16. 16
    Ana says:

    What is the problem? It is just one silly 4-letter word. We are talking about art and artistic expression, which sometimes does want to shock on purpose. I cannot understand how such a little thing can shock and offend so deeply. I think a bit of detachment would serve everybody well. If this is to much for you to handle, what then about all the classical nude statues? What then about the wonderful church paintings depicting the madonna (often painted to the likeness of the noble benefactor’s mistress)breastfeeding Jesus? What about the presentation of war, pain and mutilation in contemporary art? Should we now start to censor artistic expression and walk through the world wearing blinders? All this is totally separate from the question wether you personally like a piece, think it is technically well made, pleasingly composed and so on. I can, for instance, judge a piece as technically perfect and balanced in composition, find it clear in it’s statement and still personally dislike it because it is not to my taste.
    Questions of subject or means of expression should be adressed accordingly.
    I apologize in advance for any spelling mistakes I may have made – english is not my first language.

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