The F*ck Quilt Lady Is W&L’s New College Dean

Chawne Kimber

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia had its “F*ck UVa” sign controversy. Brace yourself for Washington & Lee University’s “F*ck quilt” brouhaha.

About ten days ago, W&L announced a new dean of the college, Chawne Kimber, head of the math department and co-director of the STEM education at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. She will oversee 21 departments and 13 interdisciplinary programs.

“We are fortunate that Chawne will be joining the W&L community to lead the College,” said Lena Hill, the current dean and soon-to-be provost, in a press release. In addition to her academic accomplishments in mathematics, STEM pedagogy, and promoting diversity, Kimber is an “accomplished visual artist.” Her work, presented in galleries and museums across the country and lauded in publications ranging from The Washington Post to Quilting Arts Magazine, uses quilting to explore social justice themes.

Yes, some people call this art.

One of Kimber’s artistic tropes is to “challenge boundaries” by quilting variations on the word f*ck and other profanities. As she says on her quilting blog, “completely cauchy,” “We express our potty-mouths in patchwork using the ultimate in four-letter words.”

It’s not entirely clear from the completely cauchy blog what the philosophical impetus is behind the ornamentation of profanity.

Kimber’s Wikipedia profile says that the Give a F*ck series was inspired by George Carlin’s seven dirty words and by racist and sexist graffiti on her college campus. By way of explanation, Kimber’s blog links to a guest post on “WhipUp,” a craft website, but clicking through triggers alarms for viruses and malware.

“I have big balls. I’m really going to need this this week.”

The General’s Redoubt, an organization of dissident W&L alumni, attributes the following quote to “the blog of the new Dean.” I have not been able to source the quote, perhaps because parts of completely cauchy are restricted. Or perhaps because the quote comes from the WhipUp post I couldn’t access. Whatever the case, here it is.

Every time I sit down to write about this quilt, I am paralyzed with fear, slowed down by obstacles, and overflowing with rage borne from inhabiting this society as a person who is not a white man. The outline turns into a textbook about US history and persistent willful inequities, which is wearying and demoralizing.

It will be tone-policed. It will bring more invalidation. And I will die from containing the rage.

To get more folks to take a moment and exercise their potty-mouths in textiles, I started a communal quilt project that is tentatively entitled The Give a F*ck Quilt. Textile artists around the world have volunteered to design blocks for the quilt and a couple of them have already arrived early. I thought that I’d show them to you to give a sense of the diversity of interpretations of the request.

Where I grew up, it’d be considered truly impolite to talk f*ck on a Sunday. Mind you, it’d probably be “okay” to engage in the act of f*cking, but talking about it would be a problem.

Do not ask me for resources. Don’t be that person. Use your noggin and your fingers to search on google about: lynching, white supremacy, racism, white fragility, intersectionality, capitalism, slavery, poverty, the 13th amendment, prisons, discrimination in education, income inequality,…you know, life.

At RealJob in a meeting of a group purportedly devoted to promoting equity and inclusion I was sternly reminded that ALL LIVES MATTER in an effort to ensure the exclusion of folks of color from all future discussions. Yes, indeed. And no one spoke up to contradict this proclamation. Silence is incredibly loud. That I’ve remained quiet about this despite knowing that it is the clearest cue to extricate myself from this group has been a big mistake on my part. At the same time, it has been a severe injustice on the part of my colleagues who imagine themselves to be allies and take victory laps each time they find themselves to be woke. [Why am I still here? This question paralyzes me every time a student asks.]

Kimber’s #cauchycomplete Twitter account indicates that she joined in January 2011 and has 820 followers. As unlikely as it seems, quilting, needlepoint and other crafts have become as politicized as the rest of society. No corner remains untouched by the Culture Wars.

I find it interesting that the Twitter account lists only 16 tweets going back to February. The announcement of Lena Hill’s promotion from W&L’s dean to provost occurred Nov. 24, 2020. Presumably, a search committee began looking for a new dean shortly thereafter. This is conjecture, but the timing suggests that Kimber engaged in some cleansing of her Twitter account around the time W&L’s recruiters came sniffing around.

In the W&L announcement of her selection as dean, Kimber only hinted at what her priorities will be. “It will be an honor to collaborate with the impressive faculty and staff at Washington and Lee University on recruitment and retention of faculty and students from diverse backgrounds, inclusive practices for teaching and learning, and shaping the liberal arts curriculum for the future.”

For those who have not learned to read the language, Kimber will be implementing a “diversity, equity & inclusion” agenda that encompasses the recruitment and retention of minority faculty, introduction of “culturally relevant” pedagogy, and the design of new courses inspired by Critical Race Theory. I expect that W&L students will be learning a lot more about “lynching, white supremacy, racism, white fragility, intersectionality, capitalism, slavery, poverty, the 13th amendment, prisons, discrimination in education, income inequality” in the years ahead.

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33 responses to “The F*ck Quilt Lady Is W&L’s New College Dean”

  1. Baconator with extra cheese Avatar
    Baconator with extra cheese

    If a male colleague reads her quilt out loud in front of any females at W&L they could be instantly fired.
    But her art is celebrated by W&L.
    This is our world now.

    1. Kurt Hodgen Avatar
      Kurt Hodgen

      Increased acceptance of coarseness, vulgarity and dehumanizing language are obviously the pathway to a more just society where everyone treats others with decency and respect.

      1. Anonymous Bosch Avatar
        Anonymous Bosch

        You’re looking at it the wrong way. Coarse, vulgar, dehumanizing speech is really just the diverse screams of the oppressed. You should be ashamed for asking them to abide by the white mans social conventions regarding polite discourse.

        1. Kurt Hodgen Avatar
          Kurt Hodgen

          My bad!🤦🏻

        2. Sejanus Avatar

          that is insane

    2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      It is ironic given its anti-censorship origins….

  2. Anonymous Bosch Avatar
    Anonymous Bosch

    Classy. What next, an elephant dung Jesus? Oh, wait…

  3. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    Look at all the wonderful things you get at Washington and Marse Robert. Tuition, room, board, and host of fees: $80,000.

    In the forest at W and L. The loggers don’t yell timber, they cry out KIMBER.

    1. Wahoo'74 Avatar

      Well played!

  4. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    One hour. I’d like one hour over libations at the White Columns with Jefferson Davis Futch III to hear his take. But he has moved on to whatever room in Valhalla is granted viciously funny right-wing cynics. W&L students of a certain era all remember Professor Futch…

    1. YellowstoneBound1948 Avatar

      I certainly do.

  5. WayneS Avatar

    In all seriousness, I have read her words several times and I still cannot figure out how making a profanity-laced quilt “challenges boundaries”, or contributes to “diversity, equity & inclusion”, or has anything to do with remedying “persistent willful inequities”.

    1. Anonymous Bosch Avatar
      Anonymous Bosch

      You should spend a day pursuing the Hirshhorn. That should give you an idea of how something like this happened. That place is home to some of the most egregious examples of boundary challenging that I’ve ever had the misfortune to be exposed to.

  6. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Not very comforter.

  7. emjak Avatar

    A few years ago I stopped donating to my undergraduate and graduate schools after seeing them drift increasingly into embracing left-wing ideology, reducing educational standards, and coddling snowflakes. The suicidal degradation of American education is appalling. The mystery is why so many people are still willing to pay outrageously high tuition and fees for such a shoddy faux education.

  8. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    Maybe I am just getting old, but I really despair at the coarseness of society when an esteemed university elevates someone who puts forth stuff like this and calls it art.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Well, ya gotta remember that the f-word is the most versatile in the language, useable as every part of speech. That alone makes it at least worthy of note.

      1. Anonymous Bosch Avatar
        Anonymous Bosch

        Yeah ok, worthy of note, not worthy of tenure.

  9. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    A pretty good Carlin bit… doesn’t transfer to quilt art though… alas…

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      “Get OFF my LAWN”

    2. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Yep, them’s the seven words in question.

      1. Anonymous Bosch Avatar
        Anonymous Bosch

        Are we sure that larry has 7 fingers left? Give the old guy a break!

    3. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      I find it comforting.

      1. dick dyas Avatar
        dick dyas

        Not if you bend over.

  10. Rob Austin Avatar
    Rob Austin

    Wow. It looks like W&L is trying to outwoke UVa’s “leadership” crew and one-up UVa’s hell bent and headlong blind rush into educational irrelevance.

  11. Paul Battenfeld Avatar
    Paul Battenfeld

    Those are comedian George Carlin’s “7 words you can’t say on TV”.

  12. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    But seriously, isn’t this exactly what it’s all about? Speech, art, politics, thought — freedom of expression and competing ideas in the marketplace.

    1. Freedom of expression fine for a professor. Less fine for a dean, which is a senior administrative position. It remains to be seen how much Kimber encourages ideas that compete against hers.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Really? Well, based on that premise, surely the Presidents of the United States should have had their lips sewn shut. Actually…

  13. Richard Smith Avatar
    Richard Smith

    Are these the same people that complain about how coarse Trump is???

  14. Wahoo'74 Avatar

    I would like to say I’m shocked, but I’m not. Even if Dean Kimber’s core academic philosophical premises were correct, which they decidedly are not, it should be unthinkable that a Dean of Students at any respectable college would post sentiments using such vile language.

    W&L has hit a new low. The alumni/ae must demand that the Board step in and fire Dean Kimber immediately.

  15. She does not make “art” is any way, shape or form. She’s a narcissistic fraud.

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