Thursday, December 01, 2005

QUILTMAKER vs ARTIST

Gabrielle's blog peaked my interest today. It usually does, but more so because of the subject matter and what it means to me. http://gabrielleswain.blogspot.com/2005/11/working-through-new-gabrielle.html

This is the quote that made me think. "We are not working in the accepted fields of the art world... Painting, sculpture... we are working in what has been traditionally considered women's domestic work. We have moved outside of the "dead white men" construct to create in a medium that speaks to us for a variety of reasons. "

I struggle with all of this artist vs quiltmaker labeling. I have long felt that if you have a way with words, you can make some people believe that anything is art. Some people are in such need to feel cultured and sophisticated, that they believe what they are told concerning an 'art' piece. Like the story The Emperor's New Clothes ( http://deoxy.org/emperors.htm ) which reminds me how gullible some people are concerning some art. Or, as an 'untrained artist' I don't understand what it is I should be seeing.

I recently saw, in the "I Remember Mama" book, a picture of a quilt by a well known quilter. To me, it looked like many of her other quilts. But she had a way with words in her description, that almost made me see what she was trying to portray in her quilt. Almost. She could put any kind of description on the quilt and get a different response to it.

One time my husband and I went to the Cleveland Museum of Art. We started in the sections with old art. Sculptures, paintings, early American artists. They had textiles and furniture, so many beautiful,beautiful pieces. Then, the last section we went through was the modern 'art' museum. I guess I am too logical to ever get some of that crap. Boards painted black and nailed to the wall. A light fixture with color florescent bulbs. I was having such fits of laughter at some of these museum pieces, that I noticed security following me. At one point it all came together when I got to an 8X6 foot piece of canvas painted solid purple (one shade) at the bottom left was a circle painted red. It was titled "Baldheaded Woman". I read the description and realized that the art of this piece was the description. I went back to the pieces that tickled me the most, and read the most beautiful descriptions. If I didn't have any common sense, I might actually believe what they said that I should be seeing.

The museum had an exhibit of quilts. The Quilts of Gee's Bend. The designs and colors of these quilts showed great artistic insight, considering when they were made, and the materials that were available at the time. But with that being said, if anyone of us made a quilt that was constructed that bad.. the quilters/artists/ whatever in our circles would drum us out. If I made a quilt exactly like any of those, it certainly wouldn't be hanging in a museum.

I understand that people outside of the quilting world, don't understand what we are doing, any more than I understand painting a board black and nailing it to a wall. But do I care? No. I make quilts because I love to do it. I NEED to do it. Because it makes me happy, and sometimes, I make a quilt that will make someone happy, usually someone that does "get it". Try making a miniature quilt and having people ask if that is the first block of a quilt for your bed... I have nightmares that my decendants will take my pineapple quilt and say.. "Look at this cute little potholder granny made.. wonder why she put so much work into it?"

We are the artists with a dual purpose art. In a pinch, you can yank our art off of the wall and cover up on a cold night without the fear of putting your eye out! Well... that might not be true with ALL quilt art!

Forget the labels, Artist, Quilt Artist, Quiltmaker, Quilter... It doesn't matter what others think of what you do.
I am a quiltmaker from a long line of quiltmakers, all artists in their own right. "Traditionally considered women's domestic work".. Hmmm.. maybe that is why I don't like seeing men get into quilting. It is a 'woman's art. Men pretty much run the world. When they get into quilting, they are really good at it, and I resent it. Of course, they are outnumbered by us Domestic Artists.. hey! a new label. I will admit, I think Ricky Timms is grand. I have always enjoyed the classes I have taken with him. But another famous male quilter turns me off with his "I was an engineer" ... Okay, so what? I guess everyone has to express themselves but geeze. And why is it when a man shows up to a guild meeting, the women fawn all over him? Oh well.. that's another rant.

4 comments:

Scrapmaker said...

You know, I feel a little posessive about quilting as a "woman's art" too, although it really isn't fair minded. I get annoyed when women fawn all over male teachers. Jen

Debra Spincic said...

There is a lot to digest in your post today. I am tired of the labels. Who gives a rat's ass really? Some of these blogs/blogrings are becoming exclusive and that is a shame. I plan to do something about that in Jan.

And, I am also ticked off when men come to quilting and all of a sudden they know it all & win the prizes & sell the DVDs & books & I frankly, don't buy their books, take their classes or support them in any way.

I was thrilled in the 1970s when men were not allowed to be home ec teachers. good--go be engineers.

I have been called a snob before too.

Do I give a rat's ass? nah.

Deborah said...

Teri, Great thoughts here. I think I need to meditate on this a bit more to come up with a thoughtful response. But, I wanted you to know that I read it and I'm very inspired.

gabrielle said...

Great post , Teri. Reminded me o of the time a good friend and I saw the Andy Warhol Brillo boxes. She was practically on the floor in hysterical laughter....and the guard was not pleased with us. All I could think of was how much they paid for that piece and how none of us could ever get away with doing it. Your fellow quiltmaker, gabrielle.