Saturday, January 3, 2009
Art Quilts are Easy, Arn't they?
"Looks like a 5 year old did it!"
"Don't think much of that!"
"She didn't get her lines straight or her points meeting!"
"What a load of old rubbish!"
Have you ever made the mistake of entering a piece into the local traditional quilt guild and had this reaction? Some traditional quilt makers (and not only in fiber, but also in paint and other media) think that it's easy to become an "art quilter" - all you need to do is forget the rules and say the words: "I am now an art quilter!"
Okay!! Let's try it!!
"I am now a great singer!
I now have the energy of a 20 year old!
I now have the linguistic abilities of somebody brought up in a bilingual family!
I now have the answers to everything!"
(now you know my secret desires!)
............ Hmmmm, doesn’t seem to be working…
But why shouldn’t it work just to announce that Now I am an Artist who Makes Quilts! After all – art quilts are so much easier!!! You can make them so much faster! You don’t have to worry about templates and specific measurements….you don’t have to even follow a pattern! And moreover you can now call yourself an "artist" instead of a quilter!! Like the word “studio” replacing “sewing room” – it all sounds so much better and is so beguiling. What grinch would come along and point out that the Emperor’s new clothes are completely without substance? Where would advertising be without promising you a better life?!!
The truth hits (if you let it, and there are many who don't!) when you realize there are no magic words to open the box of creativity and good design. There's no"fast and easy!" way to make better work, or to learn to evaluate other’s work and to appreciate the good and be able to see the flaws in the weak.
We know it is going to take a lot of work to raise the level of art quilting so that we can see many more wonderful and inspiring pieces.
But, to be phlegmatic, every medium has much more mediocrity than excellence. And, sadly the mediocre work is often much more popular. Just look at music!! Look at books, look at television, look at films – the dilution and simplification is occurring in every medium. Anti-intellectualism has been ruling for at least 8 years! Probably ever since speaking in complete sentences became unpatriotic! (oops! that wasn't a complete sentence!! whack! whack!!)
And we must also remember that things that are easy to like and require little effort on our part soon pall if you have any sensibility at all..
So, no! if you’re thinking of leaving the traditional world to enter the “easy” world of art quilts..it ain’t so easy if you want to make something that will last…Art Quilts are every bit as challenging to make as traditional quilts plus you have the added difficulty of having to come up with your own design!! But oh, how freeing it is to be able to do just that!
And now, to the sketch book, the design wall and the sewing machine!!
And, if you have been, thanks for reading!!
PS. the quilt at the top is one of the first "art quilts" I made, more current work can be seen on my website.