Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I keep hearing people complain that art quilts are not accepted in the “real art world”. Unfortunately in the “real art world” art is a commodity like anything else with the name brand always commanding a higher price than the same thing with a kroger/safeway/tesco/woolworth generic label.    In which case, of course , you actually have to taste it, live with it, imbibe it and be very knowledgeable and experienced to be able to tell if it’s a new, different and amazing baked bean, or just a copy of all the other baked beans out there.

So why are so many art quilts shows being judged by art quilters?  Surely if we want to see how our work holds up against some Platonic ideal of art then we should have jurors who are acknowledged experts within the Art World as a whole.  People who have spent many years looking across and examining all kinds of art, who have a breadth and depth of vision – these people would probably not be practicing artists themselves but critics or teachers or writers or  curators  or art theoreticians.  Most good practicing artists are usually very focused on their own work and very good at assessing work very like their own, but perhaps not so good at looking at the field in general.

I look forward to the day when a major art quilt show has the courage to choose  a panel of jurors who are from outside the art quilt world  - they can certainly have one or two art quilters as consultants people who know who’s teaching what to whom and so on – but let’s have some Fresh Eyes on the scene!

and, if you have been, thanks for reading!! 
and – let me know what you think!    Elizabeth


Jackie said...

I suppose it may be like having high school English teachers or college professors of English evaluate work compared to editors, critics and the public at large. It's a bold step, moving beyond the known, but necessary if the wide world is where one wants to be.

Kay said...

I agree with you. I'd also like to see a regular quilt show ask an artist to judge the quilts as part of a team with an "art score" as well as a "quilt police" score.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes!
I have seen some wonderfully made quilts of all kinds win quilt show ribbons which are mediocre designs and would love to have the art world judging that aspect of traditional as well as art quilts

Terry Jarrard-Dimond said...

It has to happen or we will always be a second class group.

Art by Rhoda Forbes said...

I certainly agree with you post today.Art quilts need to judged for the 'art' not the stitches, perfect points etc.
I think many find it very frustrating.
And yes, they should let the artsy folk judge the traditional quilts on the merit of arts.
Love your post, they are always thought provoking.

FoulkeArt said...

I totally agree with you! Having the art quilts judged by art quilters, seems a little incestuous.

A recent show here was judged by a prominent ceramics artist, and there was something refreshing about his choices for the prize ribbons.

Victoria said...

Just found your wonderful and well written blog, and I am happy that I did. You make an excellent point, and I agree. I wonder what would have happened if one of the Gee's Bend quilts, (before they became known and famous) had been place in a quilt show to be judged by the quilting panel of judges that always preside at such shows. Would it have been seen as a powerful textile abstract and american folk art piece, worthy of high praise, or would it have been dismissed because it didn't lay flat and the stitches were uneven? (Thank goodness the quilts of Gee's Bend were discovered by someone with a discerning eye for art.) Yes, by all means let's bring in some fresh and expanded juror view points that represent more then just a quilters perspective.

Quiltdivajulie said...

My husband is a woodturner. When his group needed to evaluate and choose only a selected few pieces for a permanent exhibit, it was fascinating to stand back and listen as some members stated (loudly) their opposition to having a non-woodturner on the panel of jurists. In the end, a local potter of some reknown was included on the panel (and again, it was MOST interesting to be a fly on the wall and listen to his observations - very astute).

Yes, the quilting world needs to make some changes in how it perceives itself and how it fits into the art world as a whole.