Friday, February 20, 2009
Dialogue: Quilt Shows, Quilt Sales
I was very intrigued by Marianne’s suggestion yesterday about a quilt show judged twice – once by a panel of quilters and once by a panel of art critics and experts who knew nothing of quiltmaking. what a fascinating idea! the show could be hung in three galleries – one for the pieces chosen only by the quilters, one for those picked by the critics and a third – where both had thought the work was strong. I don’t know why there is so much secrecy about the judging – more secrecy than the Supreme Court! I’ve heard that the 3 judges give “scores” – it would be so interesting to have the scores from each person in the catalogue.
Quilt National ’09 was juried by 2 quiltmakers and one art professor who has worked with quilters for years. Will this, therefore, be a very “quilty” Quilt national? Why do such juried shows play so safe by having mainly quilters on the judging panel? Are they afraid that non-quilters wouldn’t accept anything? Or maybe, there’s some kind of weird prejudice that a non-quilter couldn’t judge a quilt? Which would be fine if the aim was them to be only judged as a craft form. But I think most people who enter QN, AQE, Visions, Q=A=Q are wishing their work to be considered as art and judged in that vein.
I’ve heard it said that one reason is those who don’t know the art quilt world wouldn’t be able to pick out a copy or clone, which has some weight as there is a lot of cloning going on out there! Not that copying is bad or unexpected. It’s a time honoured way of learning a craft, but, of course, should not be entered into shows as original art. This problem could easily be addressed by a quilt expert looking over the choices after the works were chosen.
So – Quilt organizations!! Be Bold! You want quilts accepted into mainstream art? Then, choose more curators and fewer quilters as jurors!
The art quiltmaker, of course, can choose to enter all media art shows rather than quilt shows. The downside is that all media shows tend to be more local and the publicity within the quiltmaking world is pretty much insignificant, so if you’re entering shows to get “known” so that you’ll get lots of teaching engagements then all media shows would not benefit. But if your aim is to present your work as art and have it judged against other art, then those shows might be better. And which shows do I enter? I enter the big art quilts shows (above), though Visions has now got too expensive for me, and I enter wider “craft” based shows like Form not Function, and Craft Forms. I also enter several local all media art shows. Plus I look for opportunities for solo shows and have been lucky enough to have one nearly every year – my next one will be in the Campus Gate Gallery at Young Harris, GA in the Fall. (email me privately if you want to be put on my postcard list).
In her comment, Marianne asked:
"You write that you would love to think of art quilts becoming a luxury must have decorator item"
I wrote that while I would love for art quilts to become an item that everyone should have – like the flat tv that is desired by 50% of my household (!), I didn’t think that would necessarily make art quilts better art. I would love for it to happen because I think that the average person still will only think of a painting when they are looking for something to hang on their walls. Quilts, and all fiber work, have many advantages over paintings – for one thing if they fall down in the night, you don’t hear a crash of breaking glass and imagine burglars! (yes that has happened!). Also I think there is more to look at with the added dimension of texture and detail. Hickey was pointing out that it became fashionable in the 80s and 90s to have the work of an “in” painter on your walls – but that didn’t mean that the strongest work was chosen – by a long way. So it would be good for the quilt medium to have people understand that not only paintings can make a room a visual treat, but to increase demand wouldn’t increase quality. Sadly! Though maybe if art quilts were accepted into the formal art world, and more and more people with some knowledge of formal issues in art began to make quilts, that would lead to an improvement – maybe!! It would be exciting to watch – and I do think it’s beginning to happen.
Marianne also asked:
"as an artist working with textiles would you prefer to sell a piece of work to somebody who wants to buy it because you are a name and in vogue or to somebody who will buy it because the piece of work is something they really, really want and there is something in that piece that hits right home for that person?"
I have enough work for sale that both people could buy!! And I encourage them to do so!
Seriously, I sell some of my work through galleries, and some directly. It is always a bonus to know the person who is buying the piece and to hear from them how much it means to them. It’s lovely!
And, if you have been, thanks for reading...and
Thank you, Marianne, for raising interesting questions…
PS the quilts at the top went to people who loved them for themselves - a good feeling!