Friday, August 22, 2008

Can't we all just get along?

I want to thank everyone who responded to my last posting, publicly and privately. It really did help! Thank you, thank you!

I have to be honest, my little quilt ego took a beating when I didn't not even place again at the state fair quilt competition. Suspicions were pretty much confirmed today, when I saw the quilts at the venue. I was not able to find a single "art" quilt with a ribbon on it. And there were some drop dead art pieces there. Even if my piece didn't deserved a piece of taffeta surely one of the other art pieces should have.

I find it quite sad, that the quilt world is facing such a fissure between two halves. Where I live, there are two quilt guilds. I used to belong to both, but am now solely in the contemporary guild. I tried for two to three years to find my way through the traditional guild, and came out with scars! My pieces were not received well there, nor did I feel welcome in any way. Oohs and ahhs were abundant for traditional quilts there, arts pieces were met with silence and the polite presidential "thank you for sharing" to get you off the floor. Switch to my contemporary guild, and everyone gets oohs, ahhs and cheers. They love any quilt that is brought in. Traditional or art. In fact, sometimes I think they are stunned by the traditional pieces that find their way into show and tell.

Why is there such a discord between the two groups? As far as I recall, every art quilter I have met, views traditional quilts as art in their own right. Then why is it so hard to find a traditional quilter, who will actually call an art quilt a QUILT!

When I go to my local Barnes, there are probably close to twenty different quilt magazines available. Only one of them is focused on art quilts. I find it hard to believe there are so few art quilters out there. I am beginning to suspect there are closet art quilters. Hiding in their studios, art pieces shoved into rarely opened drawers, far from the eyes of their traditional quilter friends.

It's almost as though I am going through a "break up". I've tried for many years to be patient and blur the lines between art quilt and traditional quilt. To wait for the judges to catch up and start appreciating the art quilts as part of the main quilting world. But I'm not sure that I can see that happening any more. There are so many issues to resolve with how to judge art quilts under the same guidelines as traditional pieces. I sense animosity from traditional quilters fairly often, who appear to feel as though art quilts are some how an intrusion into the quilt scene. Perhaps it's merely the fear of change, I'm not sure.

And who knows, maybe this is simply an issue in the region that I live in. Maybe this isn't experience in Paducah, California or Houston. I do admit to being in the North, where the majority of fabric stores around here, are stocked full with moose, trout and deer fabrics!

There are things that give me hope! One of the biggest ones lately, is Alex Anderson. She is, a hard core traditional quilter. But just look at what she has been up to lately! She's becoming more explorative in her medium. She has attributed this to Ricky's influence several times. So maybe that's a key to a solution? Maybe getting the traditional quilters to just accept the art quilters is a futile fight. But maybe, just maybe, it can be achieved through encouraging traditional quilters to embrace their own inner quilt artist.

Anyway, these are just my rambling thoughts as I wind down this evening. Personally, I don't care what kind of quilting someone does, I just want to see it! And, I just want us all to get along!


EileenKNY said...

The way I see it, many,if not most, art quilters started as traditionalists. Their intuitions led them along the art path and they've branched out.
Most traditionalists haven't made that bridge crossing yet and many never will. I know some that churn out the same log cabin in 50 different colors, and that's all they want to do. I see them come across my longarm all the time. I think that quilting other peoples' quilts is what has me exploring the art quilt world. I know there's a lot out there I don't know but I'm looking forward to the experience.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie, if you find an answer to your question "Why is there such a discord between the two groups?", please, let me know, because I have never understood and never will understand that there needs to be a division. I have a foot firmly planted in each of the groups, and very happily go back and forth between tradition and art. Some of the most beautiful quilts that I have seen over the years are actually a mixture of traditional patterns and techniques and artistic execution. It's important that we don't withdraw into our little shells, but stand up and proclaim with our loudest voice that it's ok to enjoy every aspect of working with fabrics. I actually feel sorry for people who are stuck in a rut and don't develop and/or explore.

If your work does not get accepted in certain venues, you should throw the net wider and try other shows.