Monday, September 13, 2010

What is the Definition of an "Art Quilt?"

I'm always interested in what different people think an "art quilt" is. I was curious about what I would find if I did a little research on the subject. I found this to be fairly interesting and thought you might too. Check out this site-- You will find Wikipedia's definition of "art quilting" along with the following:

  • Early US and British contributors to the field
  • Important early exhibits in the U.S. (This includes a list of museums that now include fiber arts exhibits. Hmmm, the Indianapolis Museum of Art is on this list.)
  • Professional organizations
  • Making quilt art
  • Controversies in quilted art in the U.S.
  • Contemporary quilt artists
  • References
  • Bibliography
  • External links
 What do you think an "art quilt/art quilting" is? Please leave a comment.


Anonymous said...

Courageous you for opening up this can of worms.
My local, extremely well and internationally recognized quilt gallery just dropped the word quilt from it's name.
Traditionally quilts have been both decorative (art) and functional (craft). So the current fashion to label some quilts separately as "art" quilts, doesn't seem necessary to me. Do contemporary quilter now have a much larger range of surface design techniques available to them in the decoration of quilts and are these object created strictly for decorative purposes? Yes.
My preference would be to expand the scope of the term quilt to include contemporary creative processes.
But, I think the basic issue is one of economics and class. In many parts of the world quilting has been an exclusively female endeavor. As women we know that the monetary value of our work in the world is often less than that of men. Using the tag of "art" allows us to enter that world where with a few exceptions, the price of our work is greater than the price of even fine craft.
Yet, I can't think of another craft where the communal values and roots, which I think of as being feminine, are so alive.
The classes, guilds, tutorials, blogs, challenges, expo's, competitions small and large seem to me to be replacements for the historical quilting bee. They offer community and an opportunity to meet with other women to celebrate friendship, network, exchange information, techniques and patterns, a place for us to grow creatively.
Call a quilt a quilt and when your work moves beyond stitched layers of fabric, move into and label your work mixed media textile.

Quilter Beth said...

I don't think I have ever heard the term " mixed media textile," but I think that better describes many of the "art quilts" I've seen as of late. Thanks so much for weighing in on this topic.

Laura said...

I live near Greensboro, NC, an area which had a long history of creating textiles for the world. Most of the factories are gone now, but the university I work at has some great older books about textiles, quilts, and fabric manipulation techniques that we consider new and contemporary now, but have actually been around a long time, and I've been studying these books over the summer. One book has a picture of an Amish quilt made in the 1930s with colors and a pattern that could be on a current day blog post and be considered "art".
Maybe the art quilt is just one where the maker doesn't follow the "rules" of quiltmaking, isn't afraid to take chances with color or pattern, can adapt a traditional pattern to suit their vision, and makes something they love, rather than something the traditional quilters find is appropriate or acceptable.

Quilter Beth said...

Very well said, Laura.