Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sensation and Sensibility

I keep thinking about something the curator from the Museum of Art and Design said when he was jurying the last Art Quilt Elements show.  He was disappointed that there weren't any quilts using contemporary art ideas: video, electronics, synthesizers, installation devices, things that look like quilts but arn't made from cloth and vice versa!
Jeff Koons




Dogs made from balloons recreated in metal and blown up to giant size, strange materials like elephant dung.

  I mean have you ever tried to sew elephant dung to cloth?
though it looks like somebody has managed to make shoes from it!!




  Looking at the most recent Art in America magazines I can see where these ideas are coming from; there's hardly any straightforward painting represented in the articles - though plenty in the adverts!  It's a bit like the fashion magazines that you buy to look at the advertized clothes rather than the peculiar arrangements of cloth on immensely tall, anorexic, terminally depressive models in postures designed to dislocate half the joints in your body.

  Articles in art magazines and jurors from the art world are avant avant garde - they want to see something new, however awkward and unsustainable.  But most art is there to add beauty and meaning to our lives and I'm sad that many contemporary artists seem to have forgotten that.  There seems to be a real dichotomy between the two kinds of work.  With a few exceptions, though, I really think that work that shows Truth and Beauty (yes, those currently unfashionable qualities!) will be that which will stand the test of time.

Where Bong Trees Grow
 Meanwhile we have a choice!  If you want to be provocative and catch the juror's eye, then start attaching the wires right now!  If you want to show the world the beauty of the stitch, the cloth and the marks made by the maker's hand on the cloth then you might not get into some shows, but in the long run I think you'll be more satisfied by what you've made.

I'd love to hear from you if you disagree with me!! It's also very good if you don't!  Opinions please!

Meanwhile I'm gearing up for a new Inspired to Design course which starts with Quilt University this Friday;  there's time to sign up until Friday or even Saturday if you've thought about doing it.  This is the workshop that goes with my new book also called Inspired to Design and available from me (signed, dedicated) or from Amazon or your local quilt store.  Taking the workshop would support you working through the processes and I would give you as much feedback as you wanted on both your designs and your quilts.  Might even figure out what to do with that elephant dung!

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!   Elizabeth


13 comments:

Hilary said...

Sorry but I find the *art* that is seeking to catch your attention by being outlandish, provocative or controversial without having a strong message or is uber avant garde for the sake of doing something no-one has done or tried before is generally without substance.

Using modern tools like LEDs, etc in pieces where these things add meaning to the piece sounds like a reasonable idea. But using them to prove you are the first or can doesn't move me.

I did however have a thought that including a device that would be triggered by someone coming too close to a quilt which said "Don't Touch!" would be wickedly mischievous. Or a piece of some building site workers that whistled when a visitor walked passed...

OK, I'm not being serious!

Hilary

Elizabeth Barton said...

Oh but what a brilliant idea, Hilary!! You must do it!! So much fun.....

Marianne said...

It is true that I agree with you but a work of Dutch artist Mirjam Pets Jacobs, she spoke to me and when I saw his installation Birmigham, I liked. I put the link to the video and website. I'll contante to know what you think because there textile wedding multi media looks good to me
http://www.mirjampetjacobs.nl/index.htm
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xb05y9_mirjam-pet-jacobs-timeless-in-time_creation#.UYk0k8pd2CQ

Elizabeth Barton said...

I like the fact that it celebrates the hand work - whether involving machine or hand held needle...does putting it on 3 scrims add to it though? I don't see how that relates..and of course it is very difficult to assess the impact from a short amateur video. I'm glad to see it's being done though!

Marianne said...

The video was part of the exhibition as the quilt. The installation was special and showed off both. The interreacting produced a beautiful set

Byrd said...

If there is one sculpture that stands out in my mind as one of the most garish, pretentious and ridiculous art works, it's Jeff Koons' Blue Balloon Dog. I feel like I'm being taken. Maybe that's the reaction Koons is looking for. But who needs to feel that? And why?

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty" - that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." I think about those lines just about every day, and have been doing so since my first day of film school, 34 years ago. I think it's a bad idea to fool your audience. Honesty comes through, no matter what the medium, so don't forget the viewer. Quilting is so versatile and there's very little that I think cannot, or should not, be expressed with fiber. I didn't always think that way. But the more quilt history I read and the more I work with fiber, the more I realize what an incredibly powerful medium it is. Quiet, but powerful.

Take care,
Byrd

Deb said...

I'm so glad you used an image of “Where the Bong Trees Grow” because, for me, it perfectly illustrates the point you are making in this post. The first time I saw this piece was the first time I saw art quilts in a gallery setting and I was astonished by their evocative beauty and elegant complexity.

In the next room at the same gallery, there were two or three paintings - contemporary and abstract in their odd way. The paintings had a gimmick..they were enormous, maybe 10 by 20 feet and there the trick ended. I don't recall the artist's name; the paintings might have been blue or black. Your work drew me in and caused me to marvel and wonder. No gimmicks necessary to stand the test of time.

Elizabeth Barton said...

Thank you Deb!
Byrd: I do appreciate your comments which fit mine entirely; community leaders(and many others) have, I suspect, been mislead into believing that art should be immediately obvious, slick, shallow and trendy. It's not just paintings and sculpture, it's books, magazines, video - all media.

Jean S said...

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. There is enough ugliness in the world without my adding to it. I choose to attempt the beauty of what the human mind and hand can create.

Nysha said...

I could not agree more! Too much shlock for it's own sake and no other. I had a similar reaction to the MFA Annual edition of New American Paintings.
Thanks for sharing your opinion -- glad to know mine is shared...

Mary Keasler said...

Have Mercy! Call me old fashioned. Call me an old lady. Call me out of touch. Just don't call me to put blinking lights, barbed wire, or any other pretentious garb to garner attention on a piece of art. Let's grow up and get on with it. IMHO

California Fiber artist and composer said...

I think we have to question some of what is called art today. I have seen Jeff Koons' work in person. They put a smile on one's face---but are they art??? What defines art? I still seem some works in all genres of art which talk to me, and others which make me scratch my head. If we look at music there was much written in the late /60's/70's which was highly experimental and cutting edge----but little of it has endured today and many 21st century composers have reverted to a more "approachable" tonal style which still has new touches but encourages revisiting rather than shocking the listener. Maybe the same will happen in the art world in a few years.

Terry Grant said...

I have come to the conclusion that there are different kinds of art for different uses. The gee-whiz, crazy far out stuff is great to see in a museum or gallery or even in public spaces. I saw Nick Cave's work last summer and it was totally entertaining and delightful and a treat for the senses, but mostly because one could see so much of it all together, and it would be entirely impractical in your living room. So I hope there are artists who will keep on making that wild and crazy art, but I would much rather make art that individuals will relate to and want to live with. A whole different purpose to that art.