Book Review: Art Quilt Portfolio: People & Portraits: Profiles of Major Artists, Galleries of Inspiring Works

Art Quilt Portfolio: People & Portraits: Profiles of Major Artists, Galleries of Inspiring WorksArt Quilt Portfolio: People & Portraits: Profiles of Major Artists, Galleries of Inspiring Works by Martha Sielman

I am not a big fan of representational quilts of people. There is something about the quilting on faces that freaks me out. Also, why make a quilt when I can just take a photograph?* As a result, I often skip past these types of quilts at shows. When Art Quilt Portfolio People Profiles by Martha Sielman showed up, my heart sank even while feeling very glad it was a quilt book and not a jewelry book. 😉

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. There is a bit of freaky face quilting in this book, but overall Sielman has done a 100% excellent job choosing the quilts for this book.

As I looked over the table of contents, I found there are a lot of artists in this book with whom I was unfamiliar. I was really only aware of Pam RuBert and may have heard of Jenny Bowker, though I can’t think where. It is nice to be introduced to new quilt artists. As I read through the book, however, I found many artists represented who were not profiled. Susan Shie and my friend, Pamela Allen, both have pieces in this book as well as other quiltmakers whose work I have seen in the past.

The book starts out with a well written, smart introduction discussing faces in our society, pareidolia, the organization of the book and much more. Sielman weaves stories about the artists and their work to whet the appetite for this book. As I re-read the introduction, my fingers itched to move on to the images.

The artists included are international and have different ways of working. Their work has different messages and meanings, which Sielman discusses at the beginning of the book. As I re-read the introduction, my fingers itched to move on to the images. I think this quote describes the artwork in this volume beautifully “…we come in so very many different sizes, colors, and shapes. Our human family is infinitely varied and unendingly interesting, and– as this book demonstrates– it serves as a rich source of inspiration for artists around the world (pg.9).”

The book is organized by artist. I like art quilt books organized this way, because I can see relationships between quilts and the style of the artist. In some of these quilts, I like the colors. In others the imagery, aside from the human form[s], is interesting to me. Also, there is some information about the artist and I can get an idea of what their work is like before I have to go trolling multiple different websites and blogs.

The book is also organized by theme. I am not going to try to explain this. You can buy it (or get it at your local library) and see for yourself. In the first theme, happiness, the reader is introduced to Collette Berends. I can only describe the imagery of her quilts as “nightlife.” I do like the way she has represented the people. They are a bit fuzzy and impressionistic.

Yoshiko Kurihara’s quilts (pg. 66-71) are very angular and the people represented are clearly not meant to convey real people. They have no faces and the angles of their bodies are sharp. In no way are these attributes negative, though, because I was clearly able to tell that the figures in the pieces were people.

Kathy Nida’s (pg.164-169) work stuck with me as well. It is a little bit gross for me, but the quote “…of trying to NOT be pregnant, then trying TO be pregnant, and then NOT again. That little group of organs, the uterus and the ovaries, rules a woman’s life. (pg.164)” really stuck with me as one of life’s truths for women. Much of Ms. Nida’s imagery involves detailed imagery of the inside of the human body: the organs, food and medicines going in, etc. Her work and this imagery, especially in relationship to women fascinates me.

Some of my favorite quilts are:
-Kate at 40 by Kate Themel, pg.55. I like the yellow that she used as well as the blue. Both are on the face, which makes it clear that this is not a representation of how any actual human looks, but an impression or suggestion.
-Motorcyclist Portrait Project: Kari and Jim, 2007 by Cheryl Dineen Ferrin, pg. 61. Mostly I like the lips and the sunglasses on the woman in this piece. The lips are a wonderful shape and I adore the color. There is something about the sunglasses that is very appealing as well.
-Time Traveler, 2011 by Louise Schiele, pg.157. I love the colors in this piece as well as the large clock and the repetition and balance of the figures.
-Pam RuBert’s quilts are punny and fun (pg.170-175). I like it when, though serious about our work, we can also make people laugh. I love her work for the series element of it as well as the laughter.

There is something great in each of these quilts whether it is a color combination or a curved line or some details. Even in quilts where I didn’t like the overall look of the quilt, I saw something that inspired me or gave me an idea.

This book is well worth the cost and I would encourage you to buy a copy for your personal library or donate a copy to your local public library. Enjoy!

Thanks to Lark for the review copy!

GIVEAWAY ALERT!!!! I have two copies of this book to giveaway. I know I announced that I would be doing a giveaway a few weeks ago. There was some family stuff going on and I couldn’t get my act together, but I have now! I have two copies of this book to give away, thanks to Shannon at Lark.

There are special rules for this giveaway:

  • You have to like my page on Facebook: OR
  • Be an email subscriber to my blog. If you were an email subscriber on 4/8/2013, then you get an additional entry. If you unsubscribe before the drawing, you cannot win. Only current email subscribers win.
  • No whining.

I will draw a winner around Sunday May 5, so you have a week to subscribe to the email version of the blog and like

Update 5/5/2013: Giveaway closed. Thanks for playing along!

*I really need to understand this, so please tell me what you think. I just don’t get it.

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