Friday, October 12, 2012

Versitility of our medium?

A poster on the SAQA list,  Janice Dawes, has introduced some new ideas about why she has decided to embrace the description QUILT art . One sentence made me take much so that I decided to blog after ignoring my pathetic page for many months( years?)

The sentence reads

" I don't think a painter has as many options to express themselves in their art" [ as quilt artists]

Coming to fabric art from a long history of painting I couldn't agree more. I think the many more expressive possibilities that fabric offers has kept me interested now for 10+ years and I still haven't discovered all that much.  As a teacher I try to encourage students to see what fabric does that paint can't. You can dye it, print it, stitch it, bend fold and mutilate it pleat, scrunch, stuff and fray it,  You can embellish it with whatever is suitable to your intent.....all for the sake of a unique visual expression.

The only problem with MY argument is that with all this potential, why do we not see more variety in the various pictorial possibilities?  Why does FIGURATIVE OR PICTORIAL OR NON ABSTRACT OR REALISM give us more or less the same image .Generally an image derived from a photo that has been reduced in tonal shapes on the computer then collaged with either realistic palette or not.  And these images ARE amazing in some cases.  But they tell one story IMO and rarely evoke any questions or controversy or dialogue about  the person, or environment, or interior. Surely the WAY we choose to depict something says a lot about that something. And fabric offers so many more ways than painting can. But why do we not see more figures like these?


Why aren't people exploring landscapes like this?

 Or still life like this?

This kind of diversity is what I want to see more of so that our medium can be used to it's full advantage.

Now I know I may have offended some who may see themselves in my descriptions. It is not intended as such. I respect anyone who pursues a creative endeavor of any kind. It gives people pleasure to look at them and gives the artist pleasure to create them. I just want to see our repertoire expand a little more.


Lisa Broberg Quintana said...

Or don't forget in Brooke Atherton's work.

Well said Pamela! Well illustrated as well.

PaMdora said...

Pamela, I was kind of thinking the same sort of thing the other day when I read this blog post about photography:

I really like the painting you picked, esp. the guy with the hat and beer, and the flowers and fish.

Linda Cline said...

I think the more expressive work tends to get lost among the abundance of work that is out in the quilting world. Most of the quilters out there are coming from a quilting and sewing background, and many don't have an art background. Those working with images tend to pick the "safe" route which often appear rather stiff and lifeless.

I saw your Bulb quilt at PIQF today. I recognized your style immediately, and it was great to see another of your quilts up close.

Diana Louie, The Village Fabric Shoppe said...

I agree with you, but many who want to make quilted artworks have very little experience with the Art end of it. The quilt part of the equation has not had much room to let the art in, hence the common complaints about the quilt police missing the point by harping on a perfect binding or other technical consideration, and until very recently most galleries that show art had little room for quilts because they sat in the realm of folk art or craft in the eyes of many. If we are to change this we must persevere in seeking the balance and blend of art and quilt that will transcend those unofficail but strong boundaries.

Kristin L said...

I just want to see things done well. I think we as a niche give far to much credence to just having done *something* than to whether or not we've done it with intention, skill, and meaning.

Sharon Robinson said...

I think this is such a great point, Pamela. I wonder too, about the all the missed potential for three-dimensionality. Thinking of Kathy York's amazing Little Fish Big City for example.

Olga said...

I suspect that art quilt making is still in relative infancy for there yet to be a spread of great work like the painted examples you show which cover several decades. Also, if one takes the painting world as a whole, the wondrous pieces you have chosen are the tip of a really huge iceberg - I would guess that there are not only many more professional painters than quilters, but that this is also true of amateur painters and quiltmakers.
We all need encouragement to express ourselves fully as artists - so thanks for your thought provoking post.

pink daisy said...

Pamela, I wish you would post more. This is great post. I have seen this in medium too. The artist focusing on technique more than expression of art.

Margaret said...

I echo what Linda Cline said. I come to art quilting from a sewing background and careers in nursing, banking and financial planning (plans not investments). I live in an area of rural Alberta that is very traditional and conservative in its art outlook. And after years nursing a sick husband (now deceased), I want to step away from the anger and pain of that time and express myself in pieces that more sophisticated artists would term "merely pretty" but which my local audience can appreciate and understand, and which often touches off a (happy) memory. Currently, I don't want to 'make a statement' and be sucked down into the emotions required to become edgy or political in my work.

All that said, I would like to make 'better' art and to grow in a more artistic way. Sounds like I need some (more) lessons on how to think/see like an artist, and not "just" a stitcher.

lulu moonwood murakami said...

Hear hear, Pamela! Wow, this takes me back to the 80's when I first discovered the world of art quilts and artists like Terrie Hancock Mangat, Wendy Huhn, and Nancy Erickson. Does Fiberarts Magazine still exist and show artists like these? It was the only source back then.

I love it all - the edgier art quilts, the traditional quilts, the folk art quilts, but I would like to see the edgy stuff better represented either in quilt shows or galleries, not to mention the magazines that purport to be about art quilts such as Quilting Arts and Art Quilting Studio.

P.S. We have these same issues in the art doll world...