Cultural appropriation

I am getting adept at working with my left hand with assistance from my right hand. I have been a brave soldier and toughed out 6 weeks with no driving and being marooned at my studio. I want to kvetch and complain and bitch about it... but then there is Houston. The unimaginable happens and everything that happens to you seems irrelevant and easy. The complaints dry up. The irritation subsides. And I realize how lucky I am. Really really lucky and fortunate. And when one realizes that the chaos for the victims is just beginning... well it can make a gal weep.

 I have spent the summer, fruitfully but not as planned. I really can not cut much or lift much right now. So I have been composing some, but mostly making parts for my scrap quilt. I have worked with my Japanese fabrics- which it turns out is a lot thicker and tougher than it looks- so hand quilting it takes a strength I do not yet have. But I am getting comfortable with ragged edges, strange textures, and stiff unbendable fabrics. It is a learning experience.

Along the way I have mused about cultural appropriation. I know there have been lots of chatter online regarding artists that may use items or issues from other cultures in their art. And I do not know which side of the fence I stand. But I do know that I have been thinking about it as I work on some of my new pieces.

I am working with lots of Japanese fabrics- mostly dyed with persimmon and some that have been made into sake bags. Studying how these bags are put together reveals a lot about the hand stitching that was used. And I am keeping some of the repaired areas and incorporating them into the work. This is not a fake boro piece- so I do not feel uncomfortable creating a "boro wannabe." But I do wonder if using the fabrics and some of the stitching techniques is really mine to use. Of course I am putting my own spin on this, and other than the fact that the fabric comes from Japan and China I doubt that most people would identify it as culturally Japanese... but still I think about it.

When does "borrowing" become "appropriation"? When does "influence" become "theft"? No answers here... but something that I think about as I sit in my studio and work.

by JudyK