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Archive for Friday, May 29, 1998

LOCAL QUILTS TOO HOT FOR REAGAN LIBRARY

May 29, 1998

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Officials at the Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California overreacted when they pulled two quilts from a show, Lawrence quilters said.

Two quilts made in Lawrence, including one created as a parody, have been pulled from a national show after being deemed ``offensive.''

The quilts, one made in the 1930s to honor aviator Charles Lindbergh, and the other made last year as a parody of the well-known Sunbonnet Sue pattern, have been taken down from the ``America Remembers: Quilting in the 20th Century'' exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif.

``We think it's so preposterous,'' said Sarah Fayman, owner of Sarah's Fabrics, 925 Mass., where the quilt was made.

``Apparently, it was pulled because it offended some people.''

``Some people were apparently tying it to the (school shooting) in Oregon, but that's just outrageous.''

The quilt was taken down this week after hanging in the exhibit about two months, quilters said.

The Lindbergh quilt was removed after it hung about two weeks because some people found its Nazi-like design offensive, quilters said. A propeller in the quilt is in the shape of a swastika.

The Sunbonnet Sue quilt, made by 20 Lawrence area women, was done as a joke, ``because we disliked the (Sunbonnet Sue) pattern so much,'' Fayman said.

Squares in the quilt depict Sue encountering the Hale-Bopp comet, donning a hood similar to Heaven's Gate cult members, being carjacked, stung by killer bees and even meeting two quilting-related fates: death by rotary cutter and by quilting machine.

Mark Hunt, director of the Reagan library and museum, said the Lindbergh quilt was removed following several complaints.

``For some reason here in California, we received some really negative response to it,'' he said.

The Sunbonnet Sue quilt was removed more reluctantly by museum officials, after people began voicing concerns that it ``glorified'' violence, he said.

``I couldn't imagine that it wasn't understood to be tongue-in-cheek,'' Hunt said, adding that he personally was stunned that people found the quilt offensive.

He said that some people found the quilt was inappropriate, given the recent school shootings around the nation.

``We decided to take it down because we decided the controversy wasn't going to be helpful to either the library or the quilting community in general,'' he said.

Hunt said he would draft a letter to the Lawrence women who made the quilt expressing ``dismay that we've ended up having to do this.''

The Sunbonnet Sue quilt was displayed without incident in the Kaw Valley Quilt Show in October at the Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Mass.

No one complained when it was displayed here, quilters said.

-- Mike Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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