Friday, April 29, 2005

april 29

It is somewhat disconcerting how quickly this month has flown. Between the 10 days away, concerns for family members, and the yearning to be out in the gardens getting my hands dirty, I've felt distracted and somewhat at odds with myself. I have almost finished the nebula piece, it needs an edge of some sort and am working with the mono prints. nothing major but picking away. And every time I start feeling really at odds, I clean something! How's that for a coping device. Honestly, it's about the only time serious housework gets done around here -big grin.

Lately on the big mail list i read daily, there's been yet another discussion of the chasm between so called "art" and so called "traditional" in quilting. Having no background as a traditional quilter, it is not easy for me to understand the issues from that side. Having a long background in the so-called "fine arts" I really do not like the phrase "art quilt". It feels somewhat pretentious and silly to me. I never heard a painter say "oh, I'm not a traditional painter, I am an art painter".

I do remember when clay was in transition from always being considered "craft" (that is, a medium for utilitarian objects). Ceramicists stopped calling themselves "Potters" and began referring to their work as sculptural. These days there is little confusion about clay objects that are "craft" and those that are "art" whether they are functional or not.

When I was in graduate school, in Painting, we had a phrase: "Hardening of the categories causes art dis-ease." I think that all this arguing and posturing can serve as a defense mechanism and as a way to avoid looking deeply at one's work and making the hard assessments that we need to make in order to grow.

Ironically, the panel discussion I have been assigned to at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum Symposium in June is titled "What is the Art Quilt?". There are challenges ahead. more grins here. I'm on record as having said we need to lose the "quilt" word - For many of us, quilting is part of what we do to make our work but the work is not defined as the results of that stitch. I am also on record as a great admirer of the artfulness of many traditional quilts.
I do not think that the use of time honored pattern prevents something from being art. Neither do i think that "originality' equals art. There is a lot of very bad original work out there and i have made quite a bit myself. The fact that it is original doesn't save it or change its quality. Maybe the person who said "I don't know what art is, but i know it when i see it." had it spot on, eh?

ah well, this is what happens when i am avoiding the work wall. back to it.
enjoy the weekend!

5 comments:

lizzieb said...

I can't agree with you more on this!!! Traditional quilts are a craft, not art. Contemporary quilts are based on traditional patterns and ideas but done in a contemporary manner. "Art Quilts" are art...period. Not quilts but ART. Thank you...you have now let me sound off so I didn't do it on QA listing...I could have gone on for hours about how I feel about it. I come from a fine arts background who went into quilting as a craft and have now turned back to art in a quilt format...I call my work fiber art or mixed media if I have included painting, silk screening or other methods...

laura said...

Liz, it's nice to know i'm not alone out here on the fringe . grin. I too come from an art background but completely missed the craft step of quilting. i made a jump to using fiber and stitch to get the textures and "mark of the hand" i want. I't s a struggle, and i am moving more toward direct mark making now, but still on fabric, instead of a more resistant ground.
looking for a way to have it all, in one place.

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