If you are wondering, "What is an art quilt?" listen up, and then look at the photos below. In the 1970s, quilting underwent a resurgence that coincided with the nation's Bicentennial, the women's movement, and a wider revival of studio craft. In 1971 the Whitney Museum in New York City mounted a hugely influential show called Abstract Design in American Quilts. The quilts were hung on the wall and their vivid geometric patterns could be seen afresh, in the context of other recent art movements such as abstraction and color field work. Since then, art quilt makers have explored the medium as a fine art, using dyes, paints, stitch, collage, digital printing, and mixed media to make work designed for the wall, not the bed. They have altered traditional block patterns significantly, or stopped using them altogether in order to design their own compositions. Quilt guilds encourage artists to learn together, often bringing in teachers and assigning "challenge" projects to develop members' skills. There are prestigious juried shows of art quilts, and gallery and museum shows of quilts regularly break attendance records. Today quilting is estimated to be a $3.58 billion business in the United States, and it is huge in Europe, Japan, and Australia.
|Virginia Greaves, Worn Photo Molly Elkind|
To return to the Canton show, if I had to sum up the show with one word, it would be Joy. These artists are having a ball exploring new techniques in their work. I especially enjoyed the work of Ann Quandee. She has an appealing loose approach, unafraid to let lines of stitch meander like drawn lines, revelling in free organic shapes, lush color, and contrasts of texture. The quilt "Daylily" began as a doodle, we are told.
|Ann Quandee, Daylily Photo Molly Elkind|
The work of mother and daughter Joyce Klein and Katie Klein also stood out for its playful exploration of color, texture, and composition.
|Katie Klein, Flowers and Vines Photo Molly Elkind|
|Joyce Klein, Seeing Red 1 & 2 Photo Molly Elkind|
|Patsy Eckman Crazy Patch Vessels Photo Molly Elkind|
P.S. If you are interested in learning more about the process of designing your own original fiber work, check out this post about the workshop I'm offering at Southeast Fiber Forum, at Arrowmont craft school, in April.