,

Luke Haynes, Quilter: that gender question

Patchwork reverse applique motif 'FE" inside symbol for male with arrow. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

The quilter Luke Haynes, has awakened a bee in my bonnet. I can hear the darn thing buzzing and it won’t go away until I’ve had a bit of a rant, but sometimes these bees are better out than in!  What am I in such a lather about? This:

While She Naps Podcast – Abby Glassenberg speaks to Luke Haynes (quilter)

It’s not Abby’s podcast that got me yelling at my laptop, it was a good listen, but Luke Haynes certainly did. I listened to it as I was making dinner and it made some interesting lighthearted talk. Until Abby got to asking him some more in depth questions about his practice. And then the gender question, amongst other things, got me really bloody irritated. Dinner was going to be a moody affair.

I wonder if the ‘gender issue’ matters to you?

It certainly matters to me, but if you’re not particularly interested you might prefer to read another article: this one might be more like an essay (and without many pictures). I hope you’ll stick with me though and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Why it Matters to Me

To me quilting is wrapped up in gender (excuse the pun!). We live in a patriarchal society and one of the things I love about quilting and stitch is that it’s not been dominated by men. As such this leaves us free to express ourselves as women, to express what it means to be female without feeling the need to conform to a male ideal of what that should be. It’s one of the very few areas in life where this is the case (that I’m aware of). I appreciate that men are and have been part of this tradition too, but they’re in a minority. Of course I welcome diversity, but what I don’t like is when a man comes into this tradition, uses his gender to his advantage to make a name for himself, because he can, and at the same time plays down this advantage and doesn’t want to be judged on it (more on that later).

Well, Luke Haynes, it’s time to face facts: you get the press you do because you’re male. The odds are already considerably stacked in your favour simply by dint of the fact that you were born with a penis. There are many women equally if not more talented that struggle to get any recognition at all.

My suspicion is that because this community likes to be seen as ‘nice’ no one has really challenged Luke Haynes’ views and the contradictions he makes. Well, let me begin…

Luke Haynes Answers the Gender Question

Inevitably Abby raised the question of gender in her podcast, of being a man in a woman’s world.  After the podcast Luke Haynes published a post on his blog “That Gender Question” or “The Elephant in the Room” where he explained his frustration with frequently being asked about it:

“I most often-if I can-use the question to wedge in some historical trivia about female empowerment that is implicit in the rise of the quilt in American history and how I am honored to learn from those masters who came before me, who just happened to be women.

Trivia? A poor choice of word. The definition of trivia reads: ‘details or ​information that are not ​important’ Cambridge Dictionary. I beg to differ that “female empowerment” is trivial, historical or not.

And, “Those masters who came before me, who just happened to be women.”  Excuse me? “just happened” to be women?  No Luke Haynes, we just happen to be half the population that was and still is oppressed by the other half of the population, which just happens to be male. We had no choice in the matter.

He goes on:

“Quilting was an ok pastime for women when their private times were governed.  Quilts were a commerce that was acceptable for women to create before they were legally allowed to hold jobs or property. These household objects amounted to a tangible expression of community and self-control that was devoid in some houses and in the lives of some humans.”

Really? An “ok pastime”, for who; the wives of wealthy men? These were women (as he acknowledges) with no financial independence, no property rights and (as he doesn’t acknowledge) no autonomy over their own bodies. Lest we forget there were thousands of women making quilts out of absolute necessity, otherwise they froze to death. I doubt they would have called it a pastime. Frankly, this statement trivialises the lives and struggles of those women. To brush this aside as something that doesn’t matter, that has no relevance for today is insulting.  There are women across the world that are still denied these rights, even in the west. (Forced marriages, no right to pregnancy terminations (even after rape)…)

He asks:

…let me not be defined by my gender! let me not have to create works that are a reflection of the single most obvious difference between me and the standard!!

Let me not be defined by my “otherness” but rather my “sameness”!!!” 

There is no “sameness” to be considered. “Let me not be defined by my gender” he says. Well, until he wants to use it to his advantage of course. In the podcast he says that

“because of it [being male] I really am able to really sit on some good marketing. Honestly, you know, you get a lot of shows out of it, you get a lot of press out of it.”

You don’t bloody say!!!! Nobody is saying that the work he creates has to be a reflection of the difference in our genders, but what I am saying is that he wants his cake AND he wants to eat it. He cannot on the one hand infer that his gender doesn’t matter, that he doesn’t want to be defined by it, and then on the other fully acknowledge that his gender has given him advantages the rest of us don’t have (because our gender is different). In my opinion:

He should stop bloody whinging.

His ‘poor little me’ post is irritating (to put it mildly) and insulting.

On the subject of Quilts as Fine Art

During the podcast Abby asked some interesting questions about defining quilts as fine art, what the difference is between fine art and a craft object.  I thought some of Luke Haynes answers were thoughtful and some rather flippant, like this one:

“If you want to make an art object you just made an art object, if you want to make a functional object you just made a craft object”

Thankfully, he did acknowledge that “there’s definitely big grey areas where you can craft an art object, but…” and then he went on to ruin it!

“the simple difference is intention, so I say if you want to say “I’m making an art object”, sign it on the front”

Really, that’s the only thing that makes something art? A signature on the front? I think the art world may beg to differ. It’s not just intent: it’s context. And I believe that good art is made in the context of understanding what came before and what else is going on around you. Luke Haynes knows this. You don’t remake an iconic American painting like Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World using an archetypal American craft unless you’re aware of the juxtaposition of the two and what it might say.  So why make such a glib statement?  Perhaps it’s meant to be encouraging?  The trouble is it isn’t, it’s just demeaning.

If you simply reduce the difference between art and craft to ‘intent’, doesn’t it follow that we shouldn’t consider the Gee’s Bend quilts as art because the quilter’s intention was simply to keep warm:

“I never dreamed that people would pay attention to her and Arcola’s quilts.
They were just making them to keep warm.”

Lola Saulsberry talking about her mother Deborah Pettway Young and sister Arcola Pettway, The Quilts of Gee’s Bend

These quilts were unique in the field of the craft of quilt making, but someone decided to hang them in fine art institutions, which makes a very different statement. They’re no longer ‘just’ functional objects. We’ve removed the original intent (to keep warm), taken them out of one context and put them into another to be appraised on different merits. When they’re hanging in an art museum we’re probably not concerned whether they would keep us warm or not. In this environment they’re not venerated for the social stories they embody, but for a striking aesthetic not seen before in this medium.

Another point that irks me is that he didn’t once mention a female fine artist that has used quilt making as a medium. Is this because there are none, or because he just doesn’t want to acknowledge them – for fear that it might make him seem less unique?  If he’s a fine artist (which he claims) he most certainly would know about Tracey Emin and Louise Bourgeois, even if he didn’t know other artists that used quilt making to a lesser extent, like Kiki Smith or Sonia Delaunay for example. Unsurprisingly he did mention two male artists:

“Who do we hear about all day: Jeff Koons and Damian Hirst. They’re the biggest egos and personas in the art world” [referring to branding].

He didn’t mention Robert Rauschenberg who actually used quilts in his art, but hey ho.

Branding

In fact it’s this idea of branding and signing his work that seems rather egotistical to me:

“I’m a big proponent of standing by your work so I try to put my signature on the front, visible in some way to say “hey I’ve made this actively and I’ve made it for you to look at”…If you start to hide your signature and put it on the back you’re saying that what’s important is the work and less so the maker and I think it’s important to honour the maker.”

I would argue that it is the work that’s important. We “honour the maker” by regarding an artists’ entire body of work as her signature.  The intrinsic value of Tracey Emin or Damian Hirst’s work isn’t embodied in how large they write their name on the front of it. The only reason to do that is because you want it to be valued financially.

Abby asked “I wonder if you use your name sort of like a brand in that way?” [ie visibly on the front, all in capital letters: LUKE]. Luke replied:

“100%. It is branding. In the world of fine art it’s about narrative, you create a narrative, narrative sells objects…[and next, referring to Renaissance artists]: it’s about branding who is the best painter. [My signature is] …my artist’s persona.”

The Signature Question

Luke needs to read some more art history: Leonardo never signed a work; Michelangelo signed only one piece… Signatures began to emerge in the Renaissance often as simple monograms or were camouflaged in the image itself. The ‘rise of the signature’ was encouraged by and for commerce, not to ‘honour the maker’.  This short article on the Courtauld Institute’s blog has some fun and interesting insights into the subject.

Putting your name in big capital letters on the front of your quilt is about asserting your ego: it’s about differentiation. Which brings us back to gender: this assertion of the self feels particularly masculine to me. It seems to me that what he’s saying by doing this is: ‘ok, I’m a male making quilts and I’m going to leave you in no doubt that I’m male’. Why would you do that? Because you know that society doesn’t value (or at least undervalues) women. And in a paternalistic society it sure as hell doesn’t value you if you work within a field perceived as female and trivial.  (The assumption that you must be gay to do so speaks volumes.)

I also ask myself whether this apparently strong desire to be acknowledged as an artist (and I’m not saying he isn’t one) is to differentiate himself further in order to give more credence to what he does. There’s absolutely no doubt that the art world is structured by men, and to be accepted there (rather than in the world of quilt making) will not only give you more status and power, but more money to boot.

******

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Addendum

Since I published this post there’s been a lot of discussion around the subject of gender and quilting here and on other blogs. I’m proud to have kicked off the debate. There’ve been some thoughtful and enlightening comments on both sides of the discussion – although none that have persuaded me gender doesn’t matter. It takes someone to stick their head above the parapet and call out hypocrisy where she sees it, and for that I’ve been vilified – even as far as suggesting I kill myself. I’ve been overwhelmed with the response and find I just can’t keep up with it and continue to do the other things that matter to me. I’m keen that the debate should continue here, as long as it’s not personal and no-one suggests they kill themselves or anyone else!, so I’m happy to leave the comments open, but sadly won’t be able to reply to them personally any more.

I’ve added links below to the other bloggers that have contributed to the debate, Stephanie Forsyth, Mollie Sparkles and Sam Hunter, along with all their commenters – they’re the first 3 in the list highlighted in bold. I hope you’ll give them a read and get a fair and rounded sense of the arguments, for and against.

Rest assured I’ll post more ‘opinion pieces’ in future – no amount of harassment will shut me up when I think there’s something valid to be aired!  I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s always room for debate and that you’ll welcome the opportunity to join in – thank you to everyone that’s taken part so far!

Further Reading

Final Thoughts

Patchwork reverse applique motif made after listening to a While She Naps podcast with Luke Haynes. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

A small applique block that I made in response to issues the podcast raised for me.

I’ve debated (with myself!) whether I should post this article for a while now. I’ve wondered whether you’d be interested or even feel that this is the place for it. In the end I decided to stick my head above the parapet. No one seems to be addressing the issue of gender (note the lack of comments on both Abby’s podcast and Luke’s blog) and I feel strongly that it does matter. Perhaps the expression of my thoughts and opinions seem a little polemical because of that.

I hope that if anything I’ve at least persuaded you to have a listen to Abby’s While She Naps podcasts. She speaks with some great people who run creative businesses, both men and women, that I’m sure you’ll enjoy – and maybe they’ll even get your hackles up too!

 

Thanks for reading.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

Linking up with Lorna for Let’s Bee Social

 

 

91 replies
  1. Karen Goad
    Karen Goad says:

    Stephie I do not have the capability of writing like you do – you are obviously a writer as well as a quilter/artist! I do so agree with what you are saying. I have found here in the states that the few men that are “known” quilters seem to get a lot of name recognition because they are men in a women’s world. I really do not think their quilts are anything that stand out but they are known because they are male quilters. What really irks me about it is how some women quilters just really seem to be in awe of them and pander to their male egos. Well written!!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thanks Karen. I wonder if the apparent fawning is actually the expression of what’s expected of women in a patriarchal society – pandering men’s egos in the hope of some acknowledgement? I don’t know (I’m just thinking aloud), but it makes my skin crawl. The fawning doesn’t appear to be about any critical appreciation of the work, just some sort of bizarre unwarranted sycophancy.

      Reply
      • Lauren
        Lauren says:

        ” I wonder if the apparent fawning is actually the expression of what’s expected of women in a patriarchal society” — NAIL ON HEAD, Stephie! Fabulous post.

        SIGH. Luke is a very talented quilter, but his choices have put off a lot of people in the industry. He is privileged by working in a predominantly female craft, and I agree that a lot of his comments came across as tone-deaf (because they were). [That said, I will say that “ok pastime” did not strike me as flippant as it was interpreted here. I think he meant something like “socially acceptable enterprise.” He did go on in the next sentence to say it was “commerce.”]

        It’s not enough to just pay lip service to women in quilting; as you said, you have to truly understand and invoke the history and the contributions of women to quilting-as-art. Same with the signature question. It all came across as “women quilt for craft, but I’m an ARTIST.”

        Reply
        • Stephie
          Stephie says:

          Hi Lauren, thank you so much for coming by and leaving a really great comment. Your thoughts on his ‘pastime’ comment were especially interesting and I understand what you’re saying, the written word can be interpreted in so many different ways. Sometimes I think it’s down to cultural differences in the way we speak, and I forget that (especially when I’m already irritated, haha!!!). Your last sentence rings very true for me, that’s exactly what I thought. Once again, thank you for joining in the discussion, I hope you’ll come back soon 🙂

          Reply
  2. Megan
    Megan says:

    I agree with Karen’s comment: well written indeed. A very impressive discussion piece. Thank you for taking the risk of posting it.

    I, too, find it difficult at times to watch how effectively some male quilters leverage their scarcity in the quiltmaking world to garner recognition that their work doesn’t really warrant. I also find it a little odd that such men feel that they need to explain to women how it feels to be ‘different’. Just ask any woman who works in a job/profession/trade that has historically been dominated by men – eg. engineers, plumbers, car mechanics.

    I’ve been over to Luke’s blog and read the ‘gender question’ post. I’ve decided not to post a comment there as I think it would come across as bitter and possibly even scathing!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Yes, isn’t it interesting how we’re the ones who’re worried about being seen as bitter or scathing? Why should we feel like that? Speaking out is about debate, a conversation and I genuinely feel this is something that should be aired. Thanks for your contribution!

      Reply
  3. Bossymamma
    Bossymamma says:

    Excellent piece, Stephie. Unlike Megan, I have written a comment on his blog post. It remains to be seen whether he will publish it.

    Reply
  4. Lorna McMahon
    Lorna McMahon says:

    Well said. Well written. As a woman who lived the first 30 years of her life, from tom boy to motorcycle enthusiast to Millwright, looking to be accepted as just “one of the guys”, then accepting that it will never happen, I know what it’s like to be on the other side of the gender question. And no one marveled at my work because I was a woman in a man’s world. The one thing that I can say…. Quilting has given me the first opportunity to become self employed, even if that means I am at the same time, a starving artist. I don’t blame you for ranting, but hope you can turn that around and put your energy to creating, as evidenced by your brilliant new circle for the day! And what does the FE stand for? Female Equality? F_ _ _ Everybody?! Future Employment?

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      It’s exactly your point that I think people are overlooking: women deal with this kind of thing every day. In the general workplace women are not equal. So how does it feel to be in a community that’s mostly women? For me it feels more equal, where things can be discussed on our own terms. To then have a man come into this environment, use the community to his apparent advantage and then publicly whine about being asked about it is something I think he should be called to account on.

      The circle – now that’s something I’d like to explore and make on a much larger scale (if only I could afford the materials). Lot’s of thoughts were running around my head when I made it: ‘FE’ inside the symbol for male could be read as ‘fe-male’; the ‘fe’ is surrounded by the male circle (read into that what you will); FE is the symbol for iron in the periodic table and it’s in strong, black capital letters (like LH’s signature), perhaps making it more male and then the circle itself, the symbol for male and Mars, is in a floral fabric… you get the idea!!! I’d love to see it on a scale as big as LH quilts – I wonder how it would feel on that scale?

      Reply
  5. Susan
    Susan says:

    A wonderful rant — well written and non-hateful.
    That aside, I admit that I really do appreciate the inspiration I’ve received from some male quilters I’ve found in the net. Tim Latimer is the one I appreciate most — even though I don’t really like all his quilts that much. He just has a different angle at things that I think might have something to do with gender, and that I often find very helpful. I also like the work of David (http://davidscottagedownthehill) and some others as well.
    I think it’s the strong ego-oriented marketing hype that offends in this case. I have no idea how successful Luke is as an artist or designer — to me the surface of his website seems a little like trying too hard. But his work is just not my cup of tea, and I don’t really think it’s of a magnitude for any of us “girls” to feel threatened.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      I agree Susan, there are some wonderful quilters out there, both women and men. Something else Luke said in Abby’s podcast was that (as a man) “you have to come out guns blazing”, that you can’t just try quilting and say ‘let’s see what this is like’. Well if you’re coming out “guns blazing” you’re coming out looking for a fight – and why can’t you come out saying ‘let’s see what this is like’? (too feminine an approach??). The way he describes his practice feels more like he’s saying “what can this do for me?” or even “how can I use this particular medium to my advantage?”. Thanks for joining the conversation Susan and providing more food for thought!

      Reply
  6. libs
    libs says:

    Good for you for posting your thoughts on the gender thing. It’s given me a lot to chew on today, not just on gender but why I quilt. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thinking about why you quilt is great! I realised I love to be part of the lineage of women who stitched for all sorts of reasons, leaving behind something tangible of their often anonymous lives. It just feels like having a connection, having roots. 🙂

      Reply
      • Kitty Pearl
        Kitty Pearl says:

        I remember when quilters first began advocating for labels on the back: to celebrate the artist, occasion and recipient. In this way we are still “part of the lineage of women who stitched for all sorts of reasons, leaving behind something tangible of their often anonymous lives.” Thus we honor Anon.
        Although I do like when the Modern girls (excuse me: girls/guys;) stitch their name in quilting. That’s innovative adaptation of our new stitching technology. Plus it makes the quilter part if the art. Anon would like that. But a label on the front….hmmm….no.
        Paintings have to be signed on the front. Sculpture, of course. Because you can’t be picking them up and turning them over all the time. But quilters’ art is tactile. It should always be okay to touch, again to honor Anon who’s art had to be above all functional.

        Reply
        • Stephie
          Stephie says:

          Hi Kitty, I really like your point that quilts are tactile and it “should always be okay to touch” – and that with other forms of art we don’t always have that opportunity (because they’re stuck on a wall or whatever). I do like the way some people stitch their name into their quilts, but I often think it’s for a completely different purpose – it certainly doesn’t seem to be about ‘branding’. ‘Honouring Anon’ is a wonderful way to put it. Thank you for coming by and leaving your thoughtful comment, it’s wonderful that you and so many others are joining in the debate. Hope you’ll come by again soon 🙂

          Reply
  7. Lynne
    Lynne says:

    Oh dear I have never heard of this man. But I am just beginning to hear about other quilters. Men always seem to have a higher need to be important in my opinion and art critics seem to overthink things. I watched a few programs recently and maybe I’m a bit simplistic when it comes to arts and craft as I’m all about how it makes me feel. I’m not impressed by Damian Hirst or Tracey Emin and personally wouldn’t call them artists and have cleaned teenage bedrooms and been in biology labs that looked like their artwork. I do like Picasso but I glaze over when I hear art critics analysis as for me it is more visceral totally emotional. For me seeing his range from “classical” to “modern” (girl with a dove to guernica (sp?)) hits me emotionally. Hirst and Emin just make me remember my biology A level class again or remember cleaning my son’s disgusting room.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Ah but Lynne, you’re having a visceral/emotional reaction to Hirst and Emin – they bring up emotions of disgust (so it’s no wonder you don’t want to look at it)! No-one ever said art should be made to only make us feel good, and no-one ever said we have to like or appreciate everything that’s called art (I know I don’t!). I love your appreciation of Picasso from ‘classical’ to ‘modern’ – as with lots of aspects of life, it’s not just about the individual components: it’s about the journey 🙂

      Reply
  8. Cheryl
    Cheryl says:

    I think you’ve voiced what a lot of women/people in the industry feel. And frankly, were afraid to say.

    Not to knock the work of the men in the industry, because there are definitely some talents here, but the novelty of being a man garners far more play than it should. I’m also not going to knock someone who knows how to market themselves well, but it is the basis for that marketing scheme that matters. And penis in hand is no basis for a marketing scheme.

    One thing that barely got touched on in the podcast and is never mentioned anywhere else, is also Luke getting other people to sew for him. Sure, there is a model for this and it is his choice to work this way. But where is the acknowledgement, appreciation, and pay for this work? I know people directly who #sewforluke and it isn’t a joke. Not to mention that it is women doing it. How about that for adding fuel to this gender discussion?

    Reply
    • Abby Glassenberg
      Abby Glassenberg says:

      I did touch on that in this podcast. In fact we explore it quite a bit. I ask Luke about the women so for him and how he acknowledges them. He says that he compensates them but doesn’t acknowledge them in the finished pieces because they’re doing contract work for him and following his designs. Exploring this issue of compensation and acknowledgment of the women so for him was one of the main reasons I chose to have Luke on the podcast.

      Reply
      • Sharon Rexroad
        Sharon Rexroad says:

        His model of payment but non-ackowledgement reminds me of Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party” fiber art from the 1970s. I studied it in women’s history classes but did not realize how the work was really done by others until decades later when I was staying with one of my idols in the quilting world and discovered she had worked on TDP. I was flabbergasted.

        Reply
        • Stephie
          Stephie says:

          I think there were hundreds of volunteers on that piece and it took many years to create. Maybe people wanted to participate because of the nature of the piece and wanting to draw attention to the issues it raised? I know Chicago didn’t hide the fact that she had volunteers working with her. I also think it’s very different in that she wasn’t trying to create a brand with this artwork, she was trying to affect social change.

          Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      I think the issue of acknowledgement of people that sew for him is an interesting one. On the one hand I completely understand what he’s saying: they’re following his direct instructions, they have no creative input, so to all intents and purposes are simply manufacturing his product. Where is the precedent in any other industry that names every single person in the production process of a product? On the other hand he says he pays them, but he doesn’t say how much he pays. He also doesn’t mention terms of employment (it was only an hour’s podcast after all!!). Assuming they’re women (which is likely) and they’re paid in line with other women in this type of industry, we can assume it’s probably not much. They could be paid piece rate. They could be on zero hour contracts. They could be working part-time with fewer rights. We don’t know. BUT, what we do know is that it’s the cultural norm to exploit women’s labour and if your whole business and personal reputation is built on the labour of women from a community that in his own words was/is about female “empowerment”, it kind of sticks in the throat. More than a little bit. And then the whole hashtag thing adds fuel to the fire: using women to increase his power, reputation and influence via social media at their expense? That thing in my throat just got a whole lot bigger.

      Reply
      • Abby Glassenberg
        Abby Glassenberg says:

        I think it’s worth simply asking them. Search on Instagram for #sewingforluke and #sewinglukesprojects and ask the women who are doing this work how they feel about it. From scrolling through their feeds and looking at the captions on their images they appear to be really excited about the work. Of course they aren’t revealing the terms on Instagram, but I’m guessing they would be open to the conversation if asked.

        Reply
      • Kimberly L
        Kimberly L says:

        A good friend of mine sews for Luke on a regular basis. She makes an hourly rate for the “background” pieces she sews. It’s more than minimum wage, if I remember correctly it’s over double that. There is no “contract per se. He contacts her about making a piece, she says yes or no and he sends her the fabric and design. She makes it and sends him an invoice.
        She also sews for another popular quilter who is a woman. They have a very similar agreement.
        I don’t have a lot to say on the whole gender issue. I have met Luke on multiple occasions and he has a huge ego. That can definitely rub people the wrong way in person, just as it can on a blog or podcast. He is all about self promotion, which is necessary in his chosen profession.

        Reply
        • Stephie
          Stephie says:

          Hi Kimberely, thanks so much for the insight! Presumably, your friend, and others that sew for Luke, is self-employed then, or running a small business. It’s a good route to self-empowerment that many of us aspire to: being financially independent and able to say no when you want to, or aren’t being offered what you’re worth, helps to level the playing field I think. I’m really glad you came by and said hello!

          Reply
  9. E
    E says:

    The advantages that Luke has been given (or explicitly demands) are not few and far between. Luke uses gender to his advantage to gain free labor, free products, and free publicity. Thank you for starting the conversation.

    Reply
  10. Kaja
    Kaja says:

    A really interesting post. I was aware of Luke and have a book on male quilt makers that includes him, but I have to say I’ve not paid him that much attention as his stuff isn’t particularly to my taste (and there are male quilters I admire a lot). I have to hope that he is just not a particularly articulate person and is using ‘trivia’ incorrectly. He certainly seems to have a slightly odd view of the historical issues around women and quilting. My strongest reaction though is too the absolute gumph about intention. I have seen some discussion about this recently and it is just simplistic: As you say it has to have, at least, some context, I need to be trying to say something; the intention should be to communicate something beyond ‘look I made some art’.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head Kaja: “absolute gumph”!!! He studied architecture and it would be like me saying I’m an architect because I can make a building in Lego! I might aspire to being an architect in much the same way someone might aspire to being an artist, but that doesn’t mean I am one.

      Reply
  11. Cathy
    Cathy says:

    I’ve never heard of him…but I really am not up on many “famous” women quilters either. I’m not going to go find out about him. I don’t have the time. If you want to stick out in any crowd I guess it’s all about the marketing and what you can use to your advantage no matter what the gender, differences, etc. . But if the product doesn’t work, isn’t quality then no amount of marketing will sell it. I’m shy and don’t like to stick out, not very social, don’t want to be famous and don’t want to make money quilting. I don’t care who quilts, how they do it or why. If there were more quilters in the world there would be more people at peace with themselves and the world around them. My six year old grandson has been begging me to teach him to quilt. I think he will be good at it. He wants to make a quilt with eyeballs…lots and lots of eyeballs.

    Also, lots of people spout untruths, ignorance and intolerance…lots of people…lots and lots of people…quilters and non quilters, men and women, young and old, rich and poor. What negative energy they generate!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Cathy you’re right, it doesn’t matter who quilts, but I think it does matter when someone appears to diminish the work of thousands of women that have come before with thoughtless and contradictory comments – famous or not famous, I’d still have steam coming out of my ears!!!

      Your grandson’s idea for a quilt sounds really inventive and fun – I hope he goes ahead with you to make it and has as much fun and love for it as we do 🙂

      Reply
  12. Ann
    Ann says:

    I don’t know who he is but have noticed that the male quilters are (usually) big(ger) draws at our guild meetings. Sometimes it seems that men expect to make a living at their work – whatever it is. Look how many quilters give their work to family/friends or donate to charities. And I am one. I don’t want to sell my work and fortunately, don’t have to.
    There are strong, confident women quilters. Katie Pasquini-Masoput comes to mind and Ruth McDowell. Both simply unapologetically make/made a living quilting.
    There are women who use unnamed quilters to “finish” their work.
    Then, I am amused by the people who want credit for their fabric on the finished quilt but don’t think the cotton farmer, factory, thread manufacturers, weavers, or dyers deserve the same mention. Reminds me of heirloom seeds vs. hybrids. Or yoga and Hinduism.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Yes, I thought Luke made a good point in the podcast about how far we go to acknowledge everyone in the production process. And he did say that if it was a creative collaboration he does credit them. I think there’s a lot of bad feeling about it because he seems to be using women’s (comparably) cheap labour from the craft world to make a name for himself in the fine art world, where recognition and payment are considerably higher. You do have to work hard for it (although less hard if you happen to of the male persuasion!), but the rewards are so much greater. Isn’t it curious that women want some minor free recognition rather than higher rates of pay? Why do we not value ourselves and how much our labour is worth?

      It’s interesting too that you’ve noticed that “making a living” from quilting seems to be an expectation in male quilters. So far I haven’t made a penny (although I have from selling paintings at different times). I’d love to be able to support myself by it one day – I love it so much and I’m not much good at anything else!!!

      Reply
  13. Rachel L.
    Rachel L. says:

    Thank you for putting down in words the exact issues that rub me raw whenever a man in the craft industry gets publicity just for being a man. This particular case really got me grumbling. Especially his blog post. I wish I could put words together the way you can. Thank you, thank you. I add my voice to yours.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thank you for coming and leaving a comment Rachel, it’s lovely to meet you! I thought his blog post was particularly insensitive and thoughtless, he didn’t seem to appreciate just how lucky he is…grumble grumble! I hope you’ll come back soon 🙂

      Reply
  14. farmquilter
    farmquilter says:

    Oh GREAT article! I went over to have a look at this Luke person’s site, read that article and check out his work because I have never heard of him. Not a fan of the work or the obviously super-inflated ego. I have noticed that many of the male quilter/bloggers I read, their work can be amateurish, simple and ordinary, yet the other readers are gushing like it is a masterpiece. Male quilters are offered a show within a show at quilt shows or VIP/featured artist status when it is not warranted by their work. I think it frequently is the old “it is not amazing that the bear danced well, but that he danced at all”. If Luke was being honest he would admit that he is exploiting the “difference” all the way to the bank!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Your last comment is what it’s all about! He does acknowledge that he gets shows and publicity out of it just because he’s male, then he contradicts himself and says his gender doesn’t matter – but it does when it all seems to be on the back of women, who I’m pretty sure aren’t rushing to their banks!!! Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment, I’m glad you enjoyed the article 🙂

      Reply
  15. JudyCoatesPerez
    JudyCoatesPerez says:

    Something everyone needs to take into account is that Luke is also very young compared to most prominent people in the quilt world and has had a lot of exposure early. He feels more mature to us, due to growing up in boarding schools and moving a lot in his childhood, that must make one feel autonomous very early. He also has grown up in a world where gender has been more equalized. I’m not saying it’s great now or anything, but it is better and I know how my kids experience the world and they’re are almost his age, they haven’t felt the sexual barriers or inequality quite as strongly, so they don’t think about as much.

    Give him a few years and knocks in the head and I think he’ll come around just fine. I can’t imagine having that much public attention when I was his age, I’m sure I would’ve stuck my foot in it a few times too.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      I have no idea how old he is Judy, but if he studied architecture for 7 years and then worked I’d guess he’s in his 30’s, but to be honest I thought he was older. I don’t think youth is any excuse mind. Ask any woman that’s lost her job when she became pregnant. Ask women how they feel when they discover men are earning more for the same work. Ask women how they feel when they can’t get into leaderships positions – the government Cabinet in the UK is less than 1/3 female, and most of the cabinet are from extremely privileged backgrounds to boot. If you’re female and from an ethnic minority the figures are even more depressing. The Independent: just-how-different-the-tory-cabinet-is-to-the-people-it-claims-to-represent. I do agree that we all stick our foot in it sometimes though!! Thanks for leaving your comment Judy, it’s a really interesting addition to the debate, hope you’ll come back again soon!

      Reply
    • W
      W says:

      I’ve met Luke in person. He is older than I am–I’m in my 30s–and I know better than to do and say some of the things he does, so age is not an excuse. He knows very well what his aims are–to sell objects. As an artist myself (one who does not make art for profit), I’ve never heard another artist talk about the point of their work being “to sell objects”

      He is VERY extroverted and seems to strive to be eccentric to garner more attention for himself. When I met him, he was only interested in what I could do for him, and he surmised that it was nothing (he was wrong…I’m a self-taught quilter and can assemble, quilt, and bind much more neatly than he can), and was pretty dismissive to me. It was odd behavior, to say the least.

      He seems OK on social media, but lately, especially with his Log Cabins of Donald Judd, I’ve been very unimpressed by the way he writes and handles himself. He doesn’t acknowledge the historical facts of quilting, and he farms out his “designs” (I don’t believe any of the LCoDJ are unique, but I could be wrong) to women, and doesn’t pay them a living wage, and won’t officially acknowledge them, even on instagram. To me, all of this is very suspect behavior. I am no longer an active part of the quilting community simply because I don’t have time, but his attitude and ego have bothered me for a long time now.

      The artist persona is a put-on, and he also makes up his own uses for art terms, which drives me nuts. It’s like artist lorem ipsum, with the word “quilt” wedged in.

      Reply
    • Sue J
      Sue J says:

      It’s not been my experience that gender has been equalised. I worked as a teacher in Australia for 24 years and dealt with many parents of a wide range of ages. The issues women faced were the same regardless of their ages. I am about to open a store in a male dominated industry (vaping). Patriarchy is alive and well in the under forties!

      Reply
  16. Theresatron
    Theresatron says:

    Ugh! It was as though an angel was serenading me while I was reading this. I didn’t listen to Abbys podcast (accidentally on purpose) but I did read his sad sonnet on the woes of being asked about his gender. I guess you can’t blame the guy for feeling hard done by. If you’ve never had to face systematic stereotyping and pigeon holing based on the shade you turned out to be or the hook-ups you grew, it’s a lot easier to feel entitled.

    One of the most interesting (and encouraging) thing to me was in reading the comments to this post. Particularly where you mentioned how we feel if we speak out against something we’re considered to be bitter or the always complimentary “nagging”. It’s exactly the reason I didn’t comment on his post! And why the hell shouldn’t I say anything? You think he would stop short because people think him mean? A veil lifted.

    It just rubs me RAW that this happens time and time again. I think to myself, not “oh, gee what a talented artist” but “Arg! Can’t we have just one thing where men aren’t the be all and end all and we all aren’t all worshiping at the alter of the almighty penis!”

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Your last comment is EXATLY how I feel, hahaha!!! I did laugh out loud! It’s a very good point that if you’ve never had to face “systematic stereotyping and pigeon holing” you’re likely to feel more entitled to whinge, in which case you really should be pulled up on it. And why, why, oh why do we feel we should keep quiet and pretend these things don’t really matter, especially when we’re burning inside, in fear of being dismissed as nagging or bitter? We should speak out. Thanks so much for your visit and making me laugh! I needed that!

      Reply
  17. patty
    patty says:

    Bravo! There is nothing worse than a man whining that he keeps getting asked about being a man who quilts and then uses it to every advantage that he can. I saw his piece at QuiltCon 2015 and was not impressed by the quality of the workmanship or should I say workwomanship?

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      I can’t comment on the craftsmanship as I haven’t seen his quilts in person, as much as I’d love to. And that’s another thing Patty – even our language defers to the male! Will it ever end?!?! Thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment, I love the discussion that’s going on here and hope we can have more in future 🙂

      Reply
  18. Marianne
    Marianne says:

    I haven’t read any of the comments yet and will go back and do so but I felt the need to comment first, I’ve been making quilts for 25 years now and I remember when I encountered men quilters for the first time, my initial thought was, crap, now they’re going to take over (and act like they invented the craft to boot!).

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Ha! Marianne your comment reflects Theresatron’s exactly! It’s a genuine feeling of women being written out of history yet again… it’s up to us to make sure we’re not 🙂 Thank you for reading and leaving a comment, I hope you enjoyed it and that you’ll come back again soon.

      Reply
  19. Allison Dey
    Allison Dey says:

    Women have never needed permission from men to live, birth (or not), and work as they please. Women are 51% of the human population. We are not necessarily smaller or weaker by nature. What we are and have been is simply more busy with the tasks of creation and maintenance.

    What happens when you leave someone alone with nothing to do? He goes and finds some trouble.

    Perhaps the error has been not sitting the boys down at the kitchen table along with the girls and teaching them quilting at the same time, not requiring a hope chest of them, not asking them to put the kettle on for tea for the roomful. Only those with time to oppress, will. And because they will, and we are so busy making their beds and lying in them, it will not stop.

    But maybe the answer is not really in the way we raise our sons but what we give them to do once they are adults. If the world they enter is already a “man’s” world, full of dominance in commerce and production, borders and security, then it’s too late and the cycle continues. It has always been up to the women to turn the whole thing on its ear. We have the opportunity; we just don’t do it.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34602822

    I was raised at the feet of quilters in the deep south and then the midwest in the 1960s. Quilting and cross-stitch were my first lessons in sewing. No matter what a man may do in the quilting world, unless he was raised in those kitchens or by those who were, he will never receive the full lineage of women’s quilting knowledge and mythology which is something specially shared between women.

    Good luck to him. I hope he enjoys what he does. I would never want to take that away. But I would hope it sheds more light on women’s arts and woman’s rich life as the creative foundation of this world.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Hi Allison, my apologies for not replying sooner. You make some great points, and the video was really fascinating. Have you seen the film Made in Dagenham http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1371155/ which was based on a real event in 1968? Women sewing machinists walked out of the Ford car plant in Dagenham because of unequal pay, and the strike led to the Equal Pay Act in 1970 (here in the UK). Apparently the Act still needs some work, but it was a watershed at the time! (It’s actually a really fun film and I recommend it.) I agree that the only way to affect change is to make it happen – but as your video highlights it’s big demonstrations that can make it happen, individuals chipping away don’t have much chance. Going forward we have more means to change things, but I’m not so sure we (women) did in the past. You’re right, it’s not always how we raise our sons, but what happens when they go out into the ‘big wide world’ and follow the societal patterns already set there. And we shouldn’t forget that there are men out there that don’t subscribe to those patterns either and also want change.

      Finally, I completely agree with you: I hope Luke enjoys what he does (and he seems to!) and I’d never want to take that away either – and yes, good luck to him (sincerely). Despite all this discussion about the podcast/blog post I do actually like some of his work! Let’s hope (or make sure!) this kind of discussion does “shed light on women’s arts and woman’s rich life…” 🙂

      Reply
  20. Crystal
    Crystal says:

    Poor Luke. Welcome to the minority mate. The first time you’ve ever been one. With all that white male privilege in ALL OTHER FACETS OF YOUR LIFE, I’m not sure how you cope.

    Reply
  21. Sandra W
    Sandra W says:

    Yes, you make some very good points. It is interesting that so many male quilters are “stars.” Even at the National Quilt Museum, there is a disproportionate number of male quilters.
    But some of the problem belongs to women too. Whenever a male attends a quilt class or workshop, the female instructors spend the whole class deferring constantly to the male! This happens time and time again. So damn annoying.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      We don’t (or I don’t) have any local guilds to attend so I’ve no experience of that – but if I did I know I wouldn’t keep my mouth shut, haha!!! It would just drive me nuts. Thanks for coming by and commenting Sandra, I hope you’ll come back soon 🙂

      Reply
  22. Jodi from Tales of Cloth
    Jodi from Tales of Cloth says:

    I just wanted to thank you for the courage to be so honest and frank! I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the way some people swoon over the men in this industry/community. This year I did a series on the history of quilting because I think it’s so important that we know we didn’t just come up with it ourselves, that it hasn’t always been a possibly extravagant hobby to do in our spare time, but a really valued responsibility with a long, rich history. Women don’t often show up in our history lessons in school. Men go to war, write laws, run countries and explore and colonise, but the history of women is often found quietly in passed down quilts, made for their soldiers, neighbours, daughters, and for the causes they believed in. Let’s not undervalue it by saying that gender doesn’t matter or that it’s only art if you want to put it out for public display.
    When I pass on quilting to my son and daughters, I’ll be making sure they understand the stories that came before us, both the beautiful, creative and honourable, and the tragic and oppressive.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      What a wonderful comment, thanks Jodi. You’re so right that women don’t show up very often in history lessons – we seem to remain anonymous even after all this time and quilting is the perfect way to pass on our history from generation to generation. Quilts are as much about social history as they are about the craft itself. If not more so. I’m so glad you dropped by, it’s lovely to meet someone new, thank you!

      Reply
  23. tricia harvey
    tricia harvey says:

    I’d like to point out that not only does he not sew his quilt tops, he also does not quilt them. So he is basically a quilt designer. Does that mean he is also a quilter? Not in my opinion. I know that designing the quilt can sometimes be the toughest part. I have started designing some of my own quilts and unfortunately, I don’t have EQ7 or anything, I just use graph paper and colored pencils which work well for me.
    However, Mr. Haynes quilts have a lot of repitition – A LOT. He seems to either do pixelated pictures or log cabin quilts with a picture appliqued on top. And then of course, there are his log cabin quilt variations which have been done many times before in history. Mr. Haynes didn’t invent the wheel. He just likes to pretend he did. As someone said, he has led a priviledged life and he is young.
    I have to say though, when I was at Quiltcon last and saw the young women fawning over him, it didn’t make my stomach feel good.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thanks Tricia. I think your comment reflects a lot of what others feel. The fawning is just bizarre, I really don’t understand it at all – perhaps he’s just incredibly charming?!?! Or maybe people are starstruck because he’s been published and exhibited more than he deserves! Thank you for coming by and leaving a comment, lovely to meet you!

      Reply
      • rachel
        rachel says:

        I wish their was a like button! I came over here to read comments because I feel isolated and alone around this whole issue. First I had words with Luke about 4 weeks ago on a friends FB page after she (an artist who doesnt know that much about quilts) started promoting him as super awesome. My “friend” basically told me that calling out sexism was lame.
        and then in Non Luke related news:
        When all these posts started I was asked on FB how I felt about a specific man who was asshating and mansplaining in the comments section. I said “yup, he should know better. yup, he has been told. Yup he is only 50. yup, He needs to take ownership of his asshatery and get some training” and “no, I’m not explaining this gender thing to him again, he doesn’t listen”
        Then I went to Guild Meeting ….
        and Im super sad about this whole thing. so I came over here to feel non gas lighted.
        you gave me sanity and solidarity.

        Reply
  24. I'm Feelin' Crafty
    I'm Feelin' Crafty says:

    Not to mention, if you google him, half of the quilts that show up are of him…. I’ve had this deep seated disdain for a certain famous Pacific NW glass artist who takes all the credit for his art, but doesn’t make a thing. He oversees it, yes, but again, like mentioned here, he is a designer, not a maker. Maybe in the glass world it’s different, but for me in the quilting world, it’s about the making. If you can’t make, you shouldn’t be recognized whether you are male of female for that matter. There is a male in our quilt group and he’s FANTASTIC! He gets teased a lot by us women! He is fabulous and doesn’t need to plaster his name on the front of the quilt! I love all your statements about signing on the front versus the back. I like his work, but have never been a big fan. Especially not after this. And it’s a shame that his attitude seems to put him in the gen X category of entitlement issues. Sounds like he needs to spend some more time with the real women of the industry before he talks to us. He has a lot to learn! And I hope his entitlement doesn’t stand in the way of learning more about the history of the craft. Thanks for writing this article!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thank you for coming to visit and leaving a comment! I actually like some of his work too, but if this is his prevalent attitude I don’t think I’ll spend too much time studying them. Like you say, let’s hope he takes time to learn to be a bit more thoughtful and sensitive in his comments! Perhaps time is what he needs.

      Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thank you so much for the link! It’s a very thoughtful article and I really enjoyed it, especially “…quiltmaking is a doorway to a realm where we have the privilege of making anything we can conceive.” I’m not entirely sure about this statement though: “And I do not think any man goes into quilts to have an advantage over anyone else. Making quilts is just something that grabs you, regardless of your gender. No one goes into it hoping to become powerful.” I accept that no-one goes into it hoping to become powerful, but I think that once some men are in it they realise they do have a major advantage that they can exploit. Especially someone like Luke who is using it to his advantage to get a major foot in the art world, rather than the ‘quilt world’. With all this comment about motives though, it’s really refreshing to read an article like this, so thank you for bringing it to our attention. Thank you also for coming by and taking the time to comment, I hope you’ll come back again soon 🙂

      Reply
  25. Jen
    Jen says:

    Wow! What a bunch of complaining women with sexist attitudes, who are continuing this narrative through their own filter! It is embarrassing to think of the smallness of this discussion. Could it be jealousy of another’s success? There are plenty of successful male quilters, Ricky Timms, Kaffe Fassett, Jamie Wallin, just to name a few. (And if I’m not mistaken, Kaffe also hires people to sew; and I’ve never seen anyone question his business practices!) Historically, men have been involved in textiles forever, as tailors, tapestry makers, shoemakers, upolsterers, etc. long before there was a United States. Other places in the world would laugh at this shallowness that has nothing to do with quilting and everything to do with an academic narrative of a women’s study course run ammuck! There are men in Egypt who have been quilting for millennia, and their skill is handed down father to son! Luke’s blog posts are humble and show a lot of gratitude for his experiences. Does someone we don’t know personally really deserve the character assassination? Based on his own words, he wishes the question would go away, but the women won’t let it go. Perhaps it would be worth another look at what he actually says when he is not being interviewed and microscopically dissected by a group of women who have an axe to grind. He wouldn’t be asked to participate if his work didn’t reflect something worthwhile. I read somewhere that there are 27 million people involved in the quilting industry. Every one of them has something unique to offer and learn from. Just a suggestion, maybe the pile on of the women here, who are so ready to ruin him, should take a serious look at their own anger issues. It is a positive attribute to be able to live and let live. Just sayin’……

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      You don’t have to ‘just say’ Jen, I’m really happy there’s another point of view here – that’s what discussion is about! It makes the topic wider and more interesting and I for one really appreciate that you’re here. I don’t think I was assassinating his character in the post, just one particular interview that I felt needed further examination, because it really got my back up – I don’t think I have an “axe to grind” per se. And yes, I am a feminist and I’m proud of that – it has a long and valuable history as does quilting (which I’m also proud to be a part of). We wouldn’t be having such discussions if it wasn’t for the actions of women in the past. I think this post has hit a nerve with some women because we’ve been afraid of airing our views, precisely because we’d get the ‘feminist’ “pile of women” (yes, thanks for that) label/accusation/I’m bored of listening to your view now let’s put you down (or shoot you down) and ignore it. Well, I think we should feel free to have our views heard too. Everyone, of whatever persuasion in the the argument, should be heard. I wrote this post several weeks before I hit publish precisely for fear of being labelled (as you have) and was really surprised by the comments (and no, I’m pretty sure I don’t have the urge, or power, to ruin him if I did!)

      By the way, I’m NOT in the US, I’m based in the UK. I’m sure there are cultural differences and perhaps language differences too. And yes, I have wondered about Kaffe Fasset, but as far as I know he works with collaborations of women and they are credited in his books for sure. I was fortunate enough to be able to go to a lecture he gave a couple of years ago and he acknowledged that he has had a lot of attention because he’s a male in a predominantly female world – but, and this is the big but for me – he didn’t whinge about it, not once. He appreciated the value he has got from it.

      And of course there are other men quilters, no one is disputing that. They all have something valuable to offer to the world (as does Luke). And yes, I do “critique” according to my background, I have an MA if fine art and Luke says he’s an artist so I think it’s fair to critique what he says from that point of view.

      Honestly, I really am pleased you’re here, and I hope you’ll come back again and join in some more. Just sayin’ 🙂

      Reply
  26. Allison Dey
    Allison Dey says:

    I haven’t seen that movie so many thanks for pointing it out. I will look for it. It’s Christmas morning in Australia. (So why am I online? My family is overseas; I’m remarried here. Gotta love skype!) This is a really interesting discussion. There’s a lot here about art, craft, gender, and tradition. But mainly about respect. Thanks for being brave and bringing it up. Merry Christmas!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Merry Christmas Allison – and a very happy new year too! It’s always a bit weird here in the UK to see New Year fireworks from Australia before it’s even midnight here! Not to mention the sunshine 😀 I’ve really enjoyed reading other people’s views and comments on this post, I was totally overwhelmed to be honest. Respect really is at the root of everything isn’t it. x

      Reply
    • W
      W says:

      He’s a quilt designer, and so far none of the quilts he’s designed are especially unique. He is *really* good at self-promotion, though.

      Reply
  27. Bill Volckening
    Bill Volckening says:

    Each of us speaks about quilts and quiltmaking in our own way, so I am not sure how to address someone else’s comments; but I am very grateful to be part of this welcoming community of talented, creative professionals, most of whom are women. Thank you for the blog post, and good luck in your quilt journey.

    Reply
  28. mo bedell
    mo bedell says:

    It always surprises me when I stumble across a blog post where the writer has called out a member of the community by name and then proceeded to wrap that person and their work in negativity. In this particular post your concerns seem to arise from a few limited views into Luke and his work. It appears that he managed to rub you the wrong way and then any other information you have taken in about him has been viewed under a very negative light as you seem to be looking just to confirm your initial feelings. Taking that one step further people come and read this post and then they too have made up their mind about him even in the case of (as some have stated in the comments) not having heard of him before. Not anywhere in your post have I seen any mention of the fact that he has actually worked hard to get where he is. As far as the fawning goes, I’m not sure if you have been to Quilt Market but I have seen more than one or two (or twenty) women just about pass out when they see Tula Pink or Amy Butler in person. The fawning is not exclusive to him and the rest of the “man quilters”, I assure you. Additionally I can assure you that he is not the only person out there employing people to help him bring his vision to life. When you go to Quilt Market and see those booths full of gorgeous quilts, not one company or designer is doing all of that themselves. In fact I know of fabric companies who get people to sew samples for them and don’t pay them a cent, considering the fabric they supply for them to use in the sample with as their “pay”. Truth is to your own admission you don’t know what he pays them. There is so much in your post that I feel you did not consider and you certainly didn’t seem to give Luke a fair shake. There are ways to encourage conversation and exchange between people especially with important topics such a gender disparity. But being angry and calling out a single person to vilify does not get your point across with me. It actually makes me feel like you are missing a huge part of the point and bringing and creating so much negativity negates so much of your message.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Hi Mo, thanks for coming over and leaving your comment. I’m glad you’ve taken time to consider my article, so many people have just ‘let rip’ seemingly without any thought. I feel that I’ve responded to many of your points here and on other blogs, other than to say that I’m sorry my ‘essay’ came over as particularly negative. I found Luke’s comments in both the podcast and his subsequent blog post especially belittling, hypocritical, and negative too. I didn’t claim that I was speaking about anything else he’s said, or indeed his work. Had I realised I’d generate so much discussion, I think I would have made it clearer that it’s this kind ‘generalised white male privileged thinking’ (in all aspects of society) that Luke’s comments highlighted (and I’ve personally been at the end of on so many occasions) that caused me to get irate. I shouldn’t have assumed that people would understand that I didn’t mean Luke is the only ‘perpetrator’ (can’t think of a better word at the moment, sorry – I’m exhausted by it all!). I hope that you and others will see that I’m capable of modifying my thoughts and methods and I’m grateful that I’ve been called out too, it will definitely make me think about how I put my points across in future. Best Wishes Mo, and thank you again 🙂

      Reply
  29. frstborn
    frstborn says:

    Stephie,
    While I think your post is extremely well written, und you are clearly very eloquent, I both agree and disagree with it. I accept your main premise that women have not been treated equally in society(ies) in general. I do disagree that most male quilters are treated better than women just because they are men – strongly so….
    Every one of us, whether more or less famous, whether more or less talented has their own place in the quilting universe. Inclusiveness and an open exchange of ideas has always promoted creativity, imagination and innovation while excluding people and hostility towards others (no matter what the criteria for that exclusiveness has achieved the exact opposite).
    I can agree (or disagree) with any and/or all of Luke Haynes’ statements – but the basis for my agreeing/disagreeing cannot and should not be based on what gender he is, and some of your statements came across that way…

    I do appreciate your thoughtful article. I think your style of writing makes your point much better and would have one take you much more seriously than if the article was laden with profanity and “screaming” as I saw in a similar post recently…

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thank you Irene, that’s a really thoughtful comment. I wouldn’t suggest (I hope I haven’t inferred it) that most male quilters get better treatment just because they’re men, that would be really simplistic and obviously untrue. I’ve been totally overwhelmed by the response to this article, I really wasn’t expecting it. I wrote it (in my head) imagining Luke were sitting in a chair opposite me and we were having a discussion, but I think maybe that’s come across as me having a go at him in particular. It’s not that at all, I think I interpreted a number of his comments as ‘generalised male thinking’ and I’ve often felt at the raw end of that kind of thinking. It amazes me that there seem to be women out there too that think in this particular way without asking why. I’m really not questioning Luke’s creativity or the value of the work he does (culturally), but rather the discrepancies and inconsistencies of what he says on the one hand and does on the other in relation to how it impacts on women. There are many issues brought up in the comments that are of concern to other people that I haven’t raised in my post, but I’m really glad that we all feel we can share our experiences, thoughts and opinions (male or female) in a discussion like this. I would ask one thing though: that we stop calling each other names (not that you have at all Irene!). The name calling doesn’t seem to have much forethought behind it and really doesn’t do any of us any favours. Thanks again Irene, it’s great to meet you and have a calm chat!

      Reply
  30. Melanie Testa
    Melanie Testa says:

    I have been following all the different posts here, at Indiquilter and Molli Sparkles. I have to say, the men seem so fragile and bullying all at once. The Fight is ever present and when conversation actually begins to unfold, hands up, and walk out the the room? Such a privilege to shut down the conversation! Just the fact that Molli Sparkles (a name that implies female gender), starts the post with a meme, “Their dick may have gotten them in the door…” is telling. Women, for the most part, and here I need to get personal, -I- would not feel comfortable starting a conversation on my blog that starts with talk about my genitalia. Because I could be targeted for doing so.
    I do a lot of work with body positivity and breast cancer and I have posed topless for several articles, I would say my ability to put myself ‘out there’ is well above average, but still, I would not start a conversation by directing anyone to think about my vagina. Because I live in a rape culture, plain and simple. And, even though I have posed topless, I still fear that some strange man or group of men, will target me, hack my server, put my photos into a database and then what.

    So please, guys. This may be a difficult conversation, but here it is.

    We all have responsibility to create the best environment possible for one another.

    To call foul when USING the female quilting community to advantage, to say, ‘my gender shouldn’t matter, I am making quality work’, without listing any female (or even male) quilters you admire? Without knowing or communicating the history of your chosen media? To divorce the medium from the history it comes with is a disservice to all. And it is self serving and hollow.
    Yes, I suppose I could pick up a brush, some oil paint, and begin painting, I could call myself a fine artist because that is what I want to be and think I should be called. But it would be unconscionable to do so without acknowledging artists who worked in the same media that inspired me. That is called working in a vacuum.
    And if you are using your gender to get your foot in the door and to market yourself, what I would like to see happen is that you use your power to elevate the medium within the fine art world. That means you need to avail yourself of the history of your chosen media and impart that knowledge when called upon.
    I do not think this is too much to ask, quite the opposite, I think it is the fun part.
    So guys, please. Step up to the plate, put your hackles down. Realize you do have a responsibility, and you have power and use that to push our shared history into the forefront of the fine art worlds mind.

    Reply
  31. H
    H says:

    I guess in the end the most important question for me is whether the involvement of Luke and other male quilters who have found success make me feel empowered or diminished as a woman quilter. No question for me the answer is MORE empowered. The more men in our midst, the more the broader community appreciates the value of our art, the more powerful I feel in moving forward and promoting my art.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] you’re a new reader, you might enjoy the post ‘Luke Haynes, Quilter: That Gender Question‘ – there’s some good discussion in the comments about ‘man sewing’ […]

  2. […] after I published an opinion post on a podcast I’d heard, and a subsequent blog post (you can read the article here), a couple of quilters posted articles on their blogs in response. Engaging in the ensuing […]

  3. […] that cropped up on men in the quilt world, sparked by a podcast with Luke Haynes on While She Naps. Stephanie Boon wrote a blog post at the time, speaking to exactly what I will be touching on today. The […]

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