rating: 4 of 5 stars
Towards the end of the Introduction, the author, Martha Sielman writes “The book’s underlying concept of displaying up to a dozen quilts by each of the artists does limit the number of quilters included in the book, but it also allows the artists’ work to be seen in much greater depth.” I hope that this statement, and the resulting format of the book, is the first step in quilts truly being recognized in the art world. The underlying difference in this book and many other quiltmaking books is that there are no patterns. In the art world, there are probably an equal number of art books detailing how to make an oil painting or dissecting the steps to sculpture as there are books simply depicting an artists work. In the quilt world, dedicated publishers lament the lack of interest among quiltmakers for books with only pictures and inspiration. Then they publish another pattern book. The proposed series of Art & Inspirations books, such as Art & Inspirations: Ruth McDowell books is a perfect example. The series went for two books, was deemed a failure and abandoned. If the quilt world can send its artists out into the world in books such as Masters: Art Quilts: Major Works by Leading Artists (The Masters), then quilts will be welcomed in circles where experts previously thought quilts were only made by their grandmothers.
The first artist in the book is Jane Sassaman. Ms. Sassaman displays a wonderful array of quilts, from the gorgeous Willow to the spiky and, slightly scary Trouble in the Garden. Details of the various quilts show the texture created by the quilting and the detail of the line.
I was thrilled to see that the cast was not limited to the United States. Among others, Clare Plug of New Zealand and Elizabeth Brimelow of Britain were included.
Michael James’ pages were interesting. He showed, mostly, his new pieces and only a few of the pieces that made him a quilt household name. The examples show that having a style is a good thing, if you want to be known, because his new work does not immediately tell you who made the quilt.
I was interested to see a number of artists whose work has not been in the quilt news lately.
Wendy Huhn was pictured and I had not seen her work in a show in a long time. I like her black humor and the juxtaposition of the images with the softness of the quilt medium.
I was surprised at some of the quilts which were included. They seemed to be included because they are popular. Several photos show, basically, photographs placed on a piece of fabric, layered and quilted. Granted, they are technically perfect, the colors are gorgeous, and may be following the tradition of whole cloth quilts, but they don’t use the shapes or lines of patchwork to enhance the work at all.
I was pleased to see the work of some favorites such as Caryl Bryer Fallert, Jane Sassaman, Pamela Allen, and Susan Shie. I was also thrilled to see work by artists with whom I was unfamiliar such as Ita Ziv. I love her piece, After the Rain.
My only suggestion would be to include the story of some of the quilts. For example, I think that Sassaman’s quilt, Glorious Greens was in the Women of Taste, but this book didn’t say anything more than the name, size and techniques.
It is really wonderful to go back and forth between various artists to compare their works. I also like the variety of artists who were included. I hope this is volume 1 of long and vibrant series. Go and buy this book to encourage Lark Books to produce more.
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