I recently attended a guild meeting, where the speaker began her talk by making a statement along the lines of “those ugly charity quilts some people make are not art.”
Yeesh. Talk about divide the room.
I’ve been quilting since the late 1980′s, and back then the argument was that if it wasn’t hand pieced, or at least hand-quilted, it wasn’t a quilt, because our grandmothers made them all by hand.
Then in the 1990′s it was art quilting vs. traditional quilting. And now, it seems, the rivalry is modern vs. everything else.
What’s with the US vs. THEM thing? As a Facebook friend remarked last week, she’s so OVER the conversation of whether or not a quilt can be called “modern.”
I can’t help but think that, in this mostly female endeavor, any such divisiveness is just corrosive. Our grandmothers laid the foundation of feminism (in the true sense of the word, as in the respect of women as equal members of society), and I can’t help but think they’d be ready to swat our hands with a wooden spoon for not cheering on our sisters, regardless of how different from us they may be. Incidentally, I think they would also be howling with mirth at the idea we should turn our backs on sewing machine technology out of some Luddite-driven sense of reverence for the good ol’ days.
It doesn’t matter how you make quilts, or even why. Yes, I know that there are people who imbue every thread of their composition with deep meaning, and trust me, with an MFA in Fiber under my belt, I would enjoy the intellectual wrangle of a good chew on the “making meaning” conversation with you. But I’m also equally happy to cheer you on when you decide to make a quilt with pink frog fabric for no reason other than pink frogs make your heart soar.
You get to make the thing that turns you on. You get to spend your free time making charity quilts. You get to spend ten years piecing hexies for an insanely large bed quilt. You get to make everything in purple because it’s your favorite color. You get to try new things. You get to do the same things you’ve always done and be damned with the new-fangled stuff. You get to use nothing but batiks. You get to use Kona Ash in everything. You get to sweat the details on a competition-level quilt. You get to chop your points off because accuracy isn’t all that important to you. You get to quilt it on a home machine. You get to quilt it by check. You get to make your version of beauty. You get to abandon things that are not your cup of tea.
The point is YOU GET TO DO IT YOUR WAY. And the meaning it makes is the meaning you give it. This isn’t brain surgery, although I would argue that the pursuit of it is just as important . . . a surgeon can heal the body, but a quilt can heal the soul. But enough of debating all this. No more making other people’s art “wrong” – okay?
Just go make something you think is lovely. We’ll all be better off for it!
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