Sunday, August 7, 2011

Are You Someone Who? Queer East Van Bingo Quilt

the flowers from opening night are pretty much dead, so i should probably get around to blogging about my bingo quilt. i posted last week about folks helping me finish it and stuff, and i had intended to blog about the quilt really soon after that, but every time i sit down at the computer i get sucked into reading more and more previous posts of (i'm at page 105 now and i can't stop! the way she writes is exactly how my head works, it's like she's in my brain!)

i explained in the previous post that this quilt was a piece for the Queer Arts Festival Curated Visual Arts Exhibition. this year's theme was Games People Play, which was an awesome theme, and some really amazing pieces were created based on it.

i'm going to copy and paste my artist's statement here, which is a lot longer than i thought it was, so feel free to skim it if you'd like.

or, if you're one of the people who vehemently hate my lack of capitalization on this blog, you might want to read it over and over again, cause in a rare fit of appropriateness, i actually capitalized letters in it.

artist bio
Amy Dame combines art and craft to create pieces that illustrate their experiences as a queer and genderqueer person with disabilities, the beliefs and political views that guide their life, and the experiences of people around them. Primarily fibre based, Amy’s work regularly incorporates hand and machine embroidery, machine piecing, quilting and appliqué. Amy is inspired by words and imagery not generally expressed in traditional fibre work, and believes that the act of illustrating our stories in time consuming mediums such as embroidery or quilting reflects and respects the true value of the experiences of our community.

artist's statement
Are You Someone Who? East Van Bingo combines the time honoured tradition of signature quilts with the ubiquitous Bingo icebreaker to create a modern form of an art quilt.

Signature or album quilts were historically made as gifts when respected leaders, such as teachers or ministers, moved on to a new posting. Blocks of the quilt were signed by church or community members, and reflected the time the recipient spent in their community. This quilt illustrates a specific time period of East Van community, with an emphasis on the experiences of the artist’s generation.

The other aspect of the piece is a variation of the Bingo game that we have all played at meeting after meeting. Usually tailored towards the theme of the gathering, statements printed in the squares reflect experiences of the participants, and attendees are asked to find people who fit each statement and then have them sign their name on the block as a way to break the ice and encourage familiarity.

In this case, audience members are invited to sign their name to any and all squares that they identify with. They are free to sign as many or as few blocks as they wish, and to use whichever names they are most comfortable signing with.

It will be interesting to see which blocks attract the most signatures, and which blocks the audience members are most comfortable identifying with. Though the majority of the blocks invoke familiarity, nostalgia and laughter, some of them may be viewed as embarrassing or shameful. It is important to include these aspects of our community, even some that may be considered negative, to ensure that our history is portrayed honestly and respectfully.


the specifics - all the fabric on the front is Kona cotton in white and black. the bingo letters are reverse appliqued using wonderunder, and all of the writing on the blocks was digitized and then machine embroidered. the embroidery was done with standard sewing polyester thread, because i didn't want the sheen of embroidery thread. the centre square, which took me forever to design and digitize, is based on this vancouver public art piece, which is actually based on an old gang symbol that has been in use in east van dating back to the 1940s/50s. the quilt is backed in black and white polka dot cotton voile, with a bit of black and white striped voile along one side. it currently isn't quilted - after the show is over, i'm going to undo the basting stitches and sandwich it properly so that it can be quilted. i was originally going to quilt it before the show, but i needed it to be a flat, smooth surface for people to write on, so i changed my mind.

are you

the quilt has 24 blocks with statements written on them, and a smaller companion piece that reads
"Are You Someone Who..."
"grab a pen and . sign as many
or as few of the squares that
describe you. use your real
name, a fake name, your
drag name or your alter ego’s
name, just sign."
the companion piece doesn't hang the way i wanted it to.. which is irritating. but i'll fix it later.

bingo and me

the 24 blocks are:
- went to rock for choice at the cultch
- remembers when Tegan and Sara were Sara and Tegan, cute little baby dykes with acoustic guitars (it still trips me out when non-vancouverites/non-albertans know who tegan and sara are. weird!)
- has been part of a collective or consensus based group
- is poly or is consciously monogamous
- owns a pair of skinny jeans

- voted for Libby Davies
- moved to Montreal or Toronto for a “change of pace”
- has hosted a potluck
- has thought seriously about your gender identity
- owns a full set of leathers

- is vegan or vegetarian
- has an account on superdyke, plentyoffish or okcupid
- east van cross!
- has filled a stamp card at womyns’ ware (local sex store - link NSFW!)
- knows the best friend of the ex girlfriend of the casual partner of the last person you slept with

- knows how to repair your own bicycle
- has met a lover, one night stand, john, friend with benefits or future partner via craigslist
- has lived in a communal house with its own name
- has made their own sex toys
- wears a hanky and actually knows what you’re flagging (basic hanky code, an updated version than i love)

- has lived in more than 5 apartments or houses in east van
- protested during the Olympics
- has gone weeks without leaving East Van
- has been to a dance party in a completely inaccessible space like the Anza, the Legion or the Secret Location and thought nothing of it
- has been to Michfest or Camp Trans (michfest is an annual event called michigan womyn's music festival that only allows cisgendered women to attend, and camp trans is an annual event that protests MWMF's transphobia and creates a welcoming community near the MWMF site)

it was really really hard to narrow down to 24! a few of my others were: feels as comfy at the Wise Hall as you do in your own home, has dated/slept with/played with/etc a librarian, has performed drag, and has marched in the dyke march, but honestly, i could've made 3 quilts and still have more statements to use.

bingo label

the quilt was a big hit on opening night, and the opening night Art Party was a big hit on it's own. this year Pride in Art organized two art shows for the Queer Art Show, the curated show that I was in, and the non-themed community art show, so the Art Party was HUGE! i've been going on opening night for many years now, and there's never been that many people. someone said something about 300 people, and i'd totally believe it. it was really overwhelming! i went back on a later night to actually check out the other pieces, because there was no way that i could actually concentrate with that many people around me. my family came, including my totally sleep deprived dad who'd just arrived home that morning, my mom and her best friend, my sister, and my also sleep deprived little brother, who'd also arrived home that morning, his girlfriend, and some of my dearest chosen family members, including my friend J, who i've posted about before, and my best friend K and his partner. both my parents and my little sister got me flowers, and my mom wrote me a super sweet note from her and my dad, and i was so so happy that i was finally able to introduce J to my family. it was a really good night.


Cynthia F said...

Woot! Congrats on such a fab piece- so genius! I love it and it was great to see you with it in person at the guild meeting too!

Pussy Liquor said...

I think it was WAY more than 300 people - past years have seen upwards of 400 and this was more packed than that. If I had to estimate, I'd say mabye 600'ish? Over the course of the entire opening...?

Amazing project, definitely a favourite for this year! :D

Poppyprint said...

Way to go Amy!!! I loved your excitement in this post and the obvious pride you have in having created this totally cool, original, fun, welcoming, communal piece of art. I can't wait to see it all signed up!

Digital Misfit said...

That is such a wicked awesome piece! Very original and wonderfully interactive.

Tricia McDonald Ward said...

Amazing work -- you are so talented! Very sorry I could not get to the show to see it displayed, but I hope I'll have a chance to see it otherwise.

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