There hs been some (not enough,as far as I am concerned) discussion about 'art' quilts and whether they are, in fact, good art.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
but is it art?
This was generated by the exhibit of contemporary quilts at the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach, and one viewer's assessment of the work in the show. This viewer was not alone in his thought-provoking assessment. Art quilts are not necessarily good art any more than a painting is good art just because it is on canvas. The term 'art' quilts came about to distinguish them from quilts made from a traditional pattern -- or, in fact, from somebody else's pattern. In fact, the exhibit of the Shelburne quilts contained several original, delightful, quirky, amusing 'journal' pieces that would certainly fit today's definition of ART quilts. And they were beautifully executed - with workmakship I could not begin to imagine doing. Quite a few of them were two layers - not three; a number were NOT quilted, and at least one had hand AND machine stitching, done sometime in the 19th century. Juxtaposed with the Norton's beautiful collection of 20th century American art, the 'art' quilts, with a couple of exceptions, paled on every level. Part of the problem may have been that there was a theme; pieces made to a theme are a double-edged sword. When was the last time you saw a museum or gallery exhibit of paintings/works on paper/sculpture - etc. where the work was made for a particular theme? I don't mean an exhibit where the curator determines the theme and selects work from a broad range of sources that fits his/her vision of the exhibit's theme: I mean a juried show where the work submitted was specifically aimed at the theme, as so many 'art quilt' shows are. Yes, we are insular. Yes, many of us think that the more embellishment piled on, the better. And yes, too many of us are unaware of what is being done outside our medium. I maintain that the medium is meaningless unless the piece works visually. On the other hand, each medium has its own characteristic which either adds or detracts from the artist's intent. But that is another conversation.
In the meantime, please add your comments about the image below, which is the same as the one at the top of the post. Whether or not you like it, irrespective of whether it is cloth or a serigraph or a painting on canvas, does it work as art? Would stitching or embellishment add anything to improve it or would it only detract?
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