Monday, November 2, 2015

Serious issue in Houston

The last two days, the artquilt email group has been abuzz with a discussion which (alas) took place last year for the same reason. Certain art entries who ended in the winners circle, have been proven to be almost direct copies of another's work. The PORTRAIT category has a direct copy of a Vermeer painting done with Kaffe Fasset fabric!!!!   Worse is the multiple prizewinner in another category PAINTED ART QUILT both of which appear to be copies of photos in the public domain.

The first prize winner in the painted category appears to be a cropped exact copy of a photo from a website



Many people have made comments about this. Most are discouraged and questioning why a category that is supposed to be ART, has resulted in entries that been rewarded for appropriation of others' work!

" I realize Houston show officials can't be all knowing about photos and art quilts that copy them, but surely there is something that can be done to correct this, at least in the future, or is there? Again, the Master's piece with girl in earrings should be recognizable by anyone associated with art. "

The issue is using another artist's work as the basis of your own art quilt and no matter how dazzling [the ] work is technically, if she copied some existing work even if it is out of copyright, it is not an art quilt in the eyes of the serious art quilt world."

I was always under the understanding that to do work on a national level especially at the amazing Visions, your work needed to be truly original."
"   I complain because I once was VERY excited to show my work there and I feel that, with so many copying other forms of art, I'm not competing with other quilters but with Vermeer or  photographers or famous Art Nouveau ads, or what have you in a category that is specifically about 
personal creativity. "

The same issue arose last year when a major prizewinner was a stroke for stroke copy of a modern painting....same colors, same composition different colored background. ( Admittedly the artist gave credit to the original artist....but what were the JUDGES thinking?)
There are those also who complain bitterly that we are somehow spoilers for stating that the emperor has no clothes! And some are tired of the repeated cry for ART in ART quilts.
" Please do not get into YET another beating a dead horse series of messages. Quilt exhibited, got award, move on, move on!! (and next year, everyone can copy an Old Master painting :)" 
" Until I can create work that outshines that of another artist do I have a right to criticize how they work and consider them not worthy of the prizes and awards they win?"

We are PROFESSIONAL ARTISTS who are trying to maintain some credibility in the art community.

I am particularly outspoken about this issue....I agree. Maybe I am a bit of a brat. But I have also become so disheartened that I have not entered Houston for several years now because the criteria is so NOT professional. This is my livelihood as well as my passion. Others share my opinion.  So if IQA has dropped the ball, we have to keep nudging them to pick it up yes?


Kathleen Loomis said...

Couldn't agree with you more. But fortunately for those of us who want to establish credibility in the art community, nobody in the art community pays any attention to the Houston quilt show.

Jane Stevens said...

Pamela, thank you, thank you, thank you, You've clearly highlighted all the reasons I no longer make art quilts. It's not considered art and so I declined to participate.

Paula Kovarik said...

Art quilts get a bad rap for many reasons, most of which are valid. It always makes me sad when I go to quilt shows and someone points out yet another landscape or portrait quilt saying "that's amazing! It looks just like a photograph!" I always wonder why the artist didn't think to add more? OR interpret their subject with a deeper understanding? Why was threadpainting and landscape piecing enough? What's the point? I call those quilts piece-by-number or stitch-by-number quilts. They remind me of those paint-by-number kits from the past (You too can be an artist!).

Lynda Thompson said...

I totally agree with you. Houston, we have a problem!! The requirements and expectations have been slipping.

Integrity and originality are two important factors. It seems anything goes now, not even attributing photographer source etc - is that no longer required when used? Even when someone allows me to use a photograph, I don't -- I use my own or none.

I have comments about the pieces you pictured, but people who cheer on constructive criticism etc seem to think we're picking on artists because there are issues. Someone suggested responding to only art quilt shows, but from what was said today, one of these pieces still made it through to one of those shows.

Not being open to discuss much about art quilts on an art quilt group is absurd. How are people supposed to learn, to grow, to know what art quilts are about? Discussions piece information together, that in total is helpful to having the entire picture. I'm concerned new art quilters think anything goes. For those of us who take the art seriously, all of this matters as having our heads in the sand lowers the standards.

Comments thrown in to stop the discussion are harmful to the process of growth. I have artist friends who have a difficult enough time trying to understand why anything with quilt" in it is art.

I want to re-enter exhibiting again, but wow!! I did a lot of exhibiting including Houston, traveling shows and a museum. I have to really think about this.


Kathie Briggs said...

Of course I agree with you 100%. Unfortunately the show is produced by a quilt organization that apparently judges solely on fine craftsmanship and puts little or no emphasis on originality or artistic integrity. Rather year after year they encourage copying another artist's work by awarding prize money to people who do precisely that. Fiber artists are a very small part of the quilt world and as artists I believe we need to separate from quilt organizations like IQA or try to take them over. Wouldn't it be fun to stage a coup d'etat ?

LA Paylor said...

you know I agree with you. Copying is different from interpreting or inspired by.

This is an important dialogue to have. We should not stop discussing it because it makes someone uncomfortable.


Lynda Thompson said...

Looking at the Categories and Definitions, most of the categories have this sentence at the beginning of the definition: "Quilts must be of original forms and compositions, interpretations of existing artwork in the public domain, or interpretations created with the original artist or photographer’s permission."

I don't know how you have "of original forms and compositions," with "interpretations of existing artwork in the public domain, or interpretations created with the original artist or photographer’s permission."

Oh well...

Jeannie Sredl said...

Pamela as one who has always worked with images from my mind, and not photographs or printing on fabric; I wholeheartedly agree with you. Not only do I create my own images and scenes but I also create my own materials as well. I really don't care who calls it what or if they like it or not. My work keeps getting accepted. It is a need to create and I am pleased with my works. Thank you for being a brat! It takes one to know one!
Jeannie Sredl

Susan Lenz said...

Thanks so much for posting. I am in total agreement with Kathleen Loomis' comment above.

Rayna said...

Not worth the effort to complain to them. Obviously, they have no clue and are only interested in giving awards to people who have copied photographs. Photo-realism wins the day in Houston. Frankly, I have never entered that show because, yes, I am a snob who considers it the same as a pipe and drape show, only larger. Art? Uh - no. Unoriginal work - yep. That eliminates all the artists I know.

Suzanne Thompson said...

I am accepted into Art Shows, and not accepted into most Quilt Shows (excepting Sacred Threads, THANK YOU Lisa Ellis et al). Oh, and I describe my work as fiber, not as an Art Quilt. While I mostly agree with this thoughtful discussion, I also acknowledge that, if the organization sponsoring an exhibition has the Q-word in its name, I expect technique to be more important than design.

janice pd said...

Kathy Loomis is correct, as are you Pamela. But at some point those who have moved beyond what have been called cattle call shows designed for Vendors to make a lot of cash need to stop engaging in them. Call me jaded, but its known as FOMO syndrome that many of us suffer from. There isnt anything new or exciting even looking at photos. Where are the knock your socks off pieces we used to see?

Jeannie Sredl said...

What is FOMO?