Monday, December 20, 2010

Feeling and structure

I was reading the other day that there are two important things for an art work to be “‘successful”-   however you define success…  and I know we all have different definitions.  Talking of definitions of success, I always have to laugh at those people who consider a successful piece is one that knocks your socks off!! Why losing your hose equates to a wonderful piece I’m not sure.  D’you think it would work backwards?  Maybe if I wave said garments at a piece – or even incorporate them?  I know people have stitched gloves onto quilts…..would it help?
Eniow, to digress back to the main topic…I read that the two important things are
a) that the work    evoke a feeling in you and
b) that the work has a good structural basis to its design. 
Now I’ve written quite a bit about a good structure being important but not so much about the first requirement, so I thought I’d cogitate upon it a   little. I started looking at lots of images of quilts out there in print and pixels and, maybe I’m jaded and cynical,but I’m not seeing much  that does actually trigger  much of an emotional response for me.    Maybe the odd frisson, but hardly ever a gobsmacker!
Please go and look, and see what you find.  I’d love to know what work has really mesmerized and enthralled, blasted off more than a pair of measly socks!! Please comment and tell us!  Which pieces  have touched you? What have you seen in, say, the last five years, that you keep mentally returning to with great pleasure  and feeling?     In the same way that you might listen to a wonderful piece of music with joy in your heart or tears in your eyes, or even a sinking feeling in your guts, or sparks in your biceps!!  Or that triggers this sensation described by Alan Bennett in his fabulous play History Boys:
“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you.  Now here it is , set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead.  and it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”
I think we already have enough of a history in the art quilt/studio quilt/fiber collage (whatever you like to call it) world for us to see that some of the early work definitely did create a reaction whether it was an oh yes! or an oh no!!  I remember being mesmerized by Nancy crow’s Bittersweet series, having the sensation that Alan Bennet described with  Terry Hancock Mangat’s work and Nancy Halpern’s evocations of New England landscapes.   And I see that the Lincoln, NB quilt museum is holding a retrospective of some of those amazing iconic works; I do hope they put more of them up online.
and now, back to the drawing board…..let’s loosen the socks a little, just in case…
If you have been, thanks for reading!   Elizabeth
PS. I’ve put tabs at the top of the blog so that it’s easier to find the pieces I have for sale, or just read a little about them (medium and larger quilts).  Thanks for looking!


the Quilted Librarian said...

As always, a very thought-provoking post, Elizabeth. I had a painting professor (whose work I found passionless) who used to tell us, "I don't want to know what you're thinking or feeling when I look at your work." I was thinking to myself, thank God you weren't there when Picasso produced "Guernica."

As far as art quilts are concerned, I would echo your admiration of Nancy Crow's work and add Susie Shie whose work is always highly evocative for me.

All the best,
Dana Fisher

Kristin L said...

I too can get lost Susan Shie's work. I also smack my forehead whenever I see something from Joe Cunningham -- he's unabashedly making quilts yet they are quirky and bold and I always wonder "why didn't I think of that?" My current crush is Annie Hendricks-Louder for her organic use of printed fabric. She works in several media and I think it's this "cross training" that elevates her work. Too many of us, I think, are stuck in how clever we think we are with fabric and stitch and forget about all the other aspects of good design.

Elizabeth Barton said...

Thank both Dana and Kristin for your comments - fascinating what these idiot professors will say. and thanks for bringing
Annie Helmericks-Louder to my attention, I love her work. Very dense and rich and as you say it's the cross training that really helps. I'm working on getting some myself!!

Margaret Ball said...

Recently, I've been watching Laura Cater-Woods' "Little Houses" series as she keeps adding new pieces. I like the subtly implied structure and the ambiguity (I feel as if each piece shows several different planes at once, overlapping and intersecting.)

cyn said...

when i think of work that inspires me to think differently, I think of Nancy Erickson. I haven't seen any recent work from her, but I still find myself going and thinking about her work from 2006... also documented in "Masters Art Quilts," from Lark Books.

Ellen Lindner said...

I am really touched by some of the portraits Hollis Chatelain created about 10 years ago. They often tell stories about the relationships between people. My favorite is a young child who's sitting on his mother's lap: