The Art of Quilting – REVIEW

Being in the dark ages has its drawbacks, especially when quiltmaking shows come along on cable. I am lucky enough to be friends with people who are willing to tape shows and send them to me. That was the case with the Art of Quilting, a special on PBS.

Melody Johnson and Pam RuBert show up right away in the show as does Quilt National. It is a show trying to explain what makes up art quiltmaking and who the players are.

The show starts out being a slideshow of many art quilts with a voiceover by Hilary Fletcher. The introduction is followed by videos of the work of various artists including Jane Burch Cochran, Bob Adams, Pam RuBert, the Chicago School of Fusing, Carol Krueger, Kristin Hoelscher-Schacker, as well as descriptions of their work. The show also watches the artists working and listens as they talk about their work. I was surprised that there weren’t any California art quiltmakers. In between segments the slide shows continue.

I have never seen the detail of Jane Burch Cochran’s quilts and really enjoyed seeing the hidden messages she incorporates into some of her quilts. She said that she is playing with the idea that you are not supposed to touch quilts, but you have to touch her quilts to find the hidden messages. She had one about peace that grabbed my attention. She also gave some hints about being inspired as you work and how to work to facilitate inspiration.

Pam RuBert has a fabulous studio that I covet. I will think of a way to incorporate her lovely large walls in my workroom. Seeing the details of PaMdora’s world is so fantastic. The pieces of PaMdora’s world were on full display during RuBert’s segment, which was fun. I also liked the humble way in which she described her work.

Laura Wasilowski sings along with Frieda Anderson, Melody Johnson and Emily Parson in the segment on the Chicago School of Fusing. The School is fully described and each of the members of the School have a bit. I do like the clear colors that Melody Johnson uses, though she has moved on to more nature colors: fawn, stone, beige, etc. Frieda Anderson gets inspiration from nature. She also said that until recently she carried her Featherweight around in her car. Emily Parson likes the impact of large flowers and their effect on viewers. Some of the designs I liked were their machine quilting designs and the leaves as well as the smaller flowers. I also the simpler designs rather than the really detailed designs. They disparage piecing a bit, but I looked at it as of their progression.

Philadelphia Quilt Art is discussed as the next up and coming venue for art quilts. I want to say that the quilts they discuss are not quilts. I mean paper clips and candy wrappers…really? BUT, I am not going to say that, because the next thing I know, I will be making quilts out of candy wrappers and paper clips. WE must keep an open mind. Still I want quilts to have three layers and be made out of fabric. I can’t have everything. 😉

I like the way the show introduced me to lots of different artists. This is definitely a show that you have running without the sound and just have a great show running. The nice thing, aside from showing lots and lots of fabulous art quilts is that they touch on a lot of different techniques including beading, discharging, machine embroidery, fusing, painting, etc. There is a lot more to quiltmaking than just piecing. But can’t they all coexist without paper clips and candy wrappers?

It is a show worth watching and by which you can be inspired.

P.S. I struggle all the time with the whole art thing. Am I an artist? Am I not an artist? I don’t know and after hearing Wayne Thiebaud, a long time ago, on City Arts and Lectures saying that he is a painter and history can judge wheather he is an artist, I have decided to adopt this as well. I just want to do my work and grow and change my work as I progress.

I think that at heart I am an art quiltmaker, but at the moment I am in an art quilt fallow period where I am sewing with colors and patterns that I enjoy, but that are not necesarily Quilt National quality. What Comes Next and Blood and Oil are both art quilts. They will have companion pieces to follow them at some point. Just not today.

Random Photos and Bits of News

Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors have merged with or been bought by Interweave Press. Apparently, I am the last to know. I read a brief blurb in QNM of all places, then Nina directed me to the blog entry over at the Quilting Arts Blog. I hope Interweave Press doesn’t ruin QA and CPS like they did to Piecework.

In the meantime, Pamelala is busy creating some gorgeous stuff. She posted a ton of pictures of postcards to her website. It is great to see a bunch of her work all together. Then, as an added bonus, she has put together a little online demo showing how her postcards (and, I assume, her quilts) evolve. You can actually see them come to life.