Happy World Embroidery Day to all! I submitted the piece above to the San Francisco School of Needlework and Design for its World’s Longest Band Sampler project. The saying is a riff on Robin Morgan’s classic work, Sisterhood is Powerful. I posted the message on a few Needlepoint Facebook pages and sent it to those on my message list. You can imagine my shock when one person sent a message that she was blocking me from her account and I should not try to contact her again. This has led my befuddled self to write the following:
I am very concerned about the world of embroidery right now, especially in the U.S. Too many on-line groups, organizations, and publications are censoring works that have so-called political messages. So, for example, one site on Facebook criticized embroiderers who stitched “Black Lives Matter” into their pieces, emphasized concerns about Covid 19, or even one that slightly referred to former President Obama. Yet these same sites publish images of eagles, American flags, presidents, and other patriotic symbols and messages which are very political. A few media outlets have celebrated the anti-bellum South with needlepoint canvases of Confederate towns and romantic plantations. One even incorporated a Confederate flag. However, these same people have censored other artists, claiming their pieces do not reflect the “fun” of embroidery. I feel that if an artist expresses political views that are non-violent, non-hateful, and positive in intent, they should not be deleted or spit upon. One site went so far as to set down rules that no political messages would be accepted. No images were to have political titles or voice opinions. This was followed by a photo of a stitched, aggressive, bald headed eagle. I was offended by the rules and the image.
Several embroidery organizations, publications, podcasts, etc. say that our stitching world has no place for political opinions. Yet, they also lament that membership is declining and younger people are not interested in participating. Of course, if these groups are not open to art that expresses different opinions other than those they hold near and dear, then, yes, the groups may dwindle and eventually cease to exist. But perhaps other venues will develop. I, for one, have been looking for a group of free thinking stitchers since the 1970s. If you know of one, please let me know.