After reading three of the opinion pieces - this one, the one about quilts, and the one about NASCAR - my opinion about the opinion writer for the Chattanooga Times Free Press is not good.
Do people in Tennessee really care about the poorly informed opinions of exceedingly arrogant good ol' boys?
God help us all if we don't have NASCAR anymore! What a brilliant idea it is to burn thousands of gallons of fossil fuel to entertain people who are probably just as happy watching Dukes of Hazzard reruns. If I hadn't read the Times Free Press, I never would've realized how important NASCAR is, and how unimportant American history is. :P
A question for the author: Is Civil War History important?
If the answer is yes, you might want to consider reading an article in the September issue of American Quilter Magazine. The article is by Suzanne Swenson, who suggests that the control over the cotton trade was a major reason, if not THE reason, for the North's victory in the Civil War.
This is how the history of quilts and textiles meshes with American history, and the people who are involved with research in this field are doing such extraordinary work. You really don't want to get into a debate with any of these folks about the relevance of quilts.
If anything is sickening, it's the Chattanooga Times Free Press, and its backwoods, backward-thinking opinion writers.
Is your newspaper really going to continue commenting on museum funding after you got thoroughly and embarrassingly schooled by all the quilt people? Really??
Sisters, Oregon is another example of a community that experiences a flood of tourism and money from a big quilting event. The town of Sisters is rurally located in central Oregon, and the town's population is a little over 2000 people. Each year the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show (now approaching its 38th year!!) attracts over 10,000 tourists who drop well over $2.5M. Just like Paducah, I'm sure all that tourism and money are such a drag for the poor folks in Sisters! If you went there and told people quilting was irrelevant, they'd surely (but politely) laugh in your face.
Karen (thank you!)- I believe it represents the opinion of one irrational, uneducated individual, and I feel the Times Free Press should have done a much better job filtering its content. When something that inflammatory is said about such an extraordinarily good-hearted group of people, it's just plain wrong.
Re: Bets Ramsey and Merikay Waldvogel, these Tennessee women are iconic figures in the world of quilt study. I had the tremendous good fortune of meeting both of them in Lincoln at the American Quilt Study Group Seminar. Merikay took time out of her schedule to view a treasure I'd recently found, and I sat with Bets at dinner and at the lunch roundtable. She has a lovely way about her, a soft-spoken, humble Southern lady. When she speaks, you listen. Both women have been so prolific, it's still hard to imagine that anyone in Tennessee could not know about quilts.
The museum is truly extraordinary, and its staff is top-notch. I visited recently when the American Quilt Study Group Seminar was held in Lincoln, and I was so impressed, I became a member of the museum. Ordinarily, I wouldn't consider being a member of a museum that's halfway across the country from my home, but what they do at IQSC is unique and important. I hope to return there often. I never would've traveled to that part of the country if IQSC hadn't been there, but now I'm so glad I did.
Any serious student of American history needs to study quilts and textiles. Remember the Revolutionary war? "Taxation Without Representation" ring a bell? Well, do you think they were just fighting over tea? Textiles were among the most precious imported goods during America's colonial period. The industrialization of America also revolved around the textile industry. Quilts have served in many roles during the last 250+ years, from bed coverings to fundraisers to commemorative and family history objects, as part of disaster relief efforts, and as works of art. Quilts are wedding gifts, baby gifts, memorials for families of fallen soldiers. Quilts are certainly among the most important women's history objects in America, but it's not just women's history we're talking about- it's art history, the history of industrialization, the history of mass media - it's American history!
So, anonymous opinion writer and staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, I hope you all learned something here. There are at least 20 million quiltmakers and even more quilt lovers, who would heartily disagree with your opinion, for a variety of reasons. The opinion you have published is not just extremely un-American, it is not at all representative of how people from Tennessee really feel about quilts. A retraction, apology, or opportunity for rebuttal would be appropriate, but if that's not something you'll do, I hope you'll never again make such an egregious error. When you speak of quilts and quiltmakers in America, take heed, and show a lot more respect!
I am absolutely flabbergasted. Shame on the Times Free Press for publishing such an outrageous, irresponsible, uninformed, and anonymous opinion. As many others have already said, quiltmaking is a multi-billion dollar industry in America. It couldn't be more relevant today, when thousands of women (and men) across the U.S. are mobilizing to make and send quilts to victims of Hurricane Sandy. It is extremely insulting to compare a handmade work of art and family heirloom to bedding that's mass-produced overseas. Quilts represent one of the longest unbroken traditions of women's artistic expression in America. That’s hardly irrelevant!