Tag Archives: Cultural misappropriation

Ownership | Cultural Appropriation and Copyright

In my last post, I listed ten things I learned or had reinforced in 2018 about making. One of the items listed was this:
“5. Inspiration comes from all over, if you let it. Okay, really, I knew this already, but it was confirmed time and again. Couldn’t you make an amazing quilt inspired by the mask above?”

This is the mask:

Bat mask from Burkina Faso, on display (and for sale) at Beadology in Iowa City. Maybe about 4′ wide.

This evocative piece is from Burkina Faso, a country with an estimated 70 languages. Even so, with its geometric designs, it speaks the same language as patchwork quilts. It’s easy for me to imagine making a quilt inspired by it. But is it fair for a white woman from midwestern US to mimic symbolism from across the world? I don’t know.

In fact, that’s what this post is about: things I didn’t learn in 2018. Two of the most important things about making that I didn’t learn in 2018 have to do with ownership. Who owns the right to create certain objects, symbols, or designs? Answers to this question have to do with both law and ethics.

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