I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about Rossie's post. I really don't like putting labels on things but there is a debate that I mentally have with myself a lot which is what defines fine art from craft. One college I went to felt that this discussion was still important and worth having, one college I went to felt it was out dated and cliche. Since I've spent some time doing both fine art & craft, I do think it's a current and valid discussion; especially as more and more people pick up quilting and mixed media arts.
And even more so when I see quilts that rise above my preconceived notions of what makes a modern quilt "modern" and what makes them "fine art".
These two quilts to me, are fine art. These are modern quilts who go above and beyond, borrowing old and new ideas and pulling them into a whole new level of vocabulary and thought process. Neither are utiliarian. When applying the term modern fine art; I'm thinking of the time period from approximately 1870 til mid-late 1970s. I am not well versed in contemporary & present art and won't pretend to be.
When I first saw these, I fell in love. The grouping is phenom but really each piece can stand alone and read as a finished composition. Her artist statement really puts it more eloquently than I ever could.
"I am not a poet or someone who draws, but I feel that my use of vintage textiles as a medium brings a history, a weight, a poetry to the work before I even begin to cut, sew, and piece the work back together. Allowing the work to intuitively flow thru me I do feel the end result is similar to a drawing or poetry. "
These mini quilts for the book: Whip Up Mini Quilts by Elsie Marley floored me. I should note that one of my favorite of all time painters is Richard Diebenkorn; that quilt on the right? His palette. The positioning of the power lines and the line quality? Very much Ed Ruscha.
It's very interesting to look at quilts and see what you respond to in it. It opens up a whole plethora of leading questions, why quilt, what makes a quilt modern, what makes a modern quilt no longer a quilt but a piece of modern art? Can a modern quilt be both craft AND fine art? It can just blossom into a giant conversation that is full of realizations and contradictions.
It opens up a giant can of worms with me, my feelings on what makes a modern quilt, who the modern quilter is, etc. I find myself going around in circles, the exact same way I do about art.
That said I *do not* consider myself a modern quilter. I consider myself a quilter who sews with modern fabrics and freshens up older ideas with a new perspective. But I am not reinventing the wheel. I sew 100% for myself; I don't do it to impress others or follow trends, I do it because at the end of the day I like holding a tangible finished project in my hands and being able to say I MADE THIS. I believe in the principles of good design, color theory and a basic sewing skill set. I like challenging myself. There are reasons why people in 2010 still quilt when the options for mass produced goods are out there.
Do I think a lot of people are modern quilters? Yes & No.
- Yes!!!! because I'm not the quilt police or a judgmental person. You can call your quilt modern if you want! You can call your quilt whatever the heck you want! Does it make you happy? To me, thats all that matters and never in a million years would I steal someone elses thunder. It's not my nature or my personality.
- I do think there are a few quilters out there who stretch the bar and really *are* reinventing the wheel.
- Spend a few hours looking here. Then look at your favorite modern quilters. You'll see a lot of similarities & it might surprise you!
- Does that make them any less modern? That's all depending on what your definition of what modern quilting is!
- That said, it bothers me more than seeing the term "modern" applied to a quilt in which the person has made a mess of things with no sewing skills and instead of owning their actions, they simply apply the term "modern". By that I mean, they had no intent and knowledge behind their actions and are hiding behind a label. I'm not talking about a beginner quilt or anything like that. AT ALL. I'm talking about people being "gimmicky".
At this point in time I can't answer a bunch of these questions but I love the dialog and the thought process behind them all.
What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy seeing quilts that raise the bar? Do you consider yourself a modern quilter?