Quilting as an Art Form–Pursuit of Excellence

I have been thinking a lot lately, for some inexplicable reason, about some negative comments I have heard or read about art quilts. First off, let me say that MOST quilters of all sorts have a broad acceptance of quilting and quilters of any style and appreciate each others’ works, but there are some who view art quilts with a jaundiced eye, erroneously believing that art quilting is somehow easier and less exacting than traditional quilting. Unfortunately, there are also some “art quilters” who may, in fact, deserve this criticism, or view traditional quilting negatively.  Silly views like these should be thrown completely out of the quilting world, and both should accept the other as fine art and fine craft and include continuous training and healthy pursuit of good techniques into their own particular crafts.

I also note that there is also a decided group of artists and media personnel who regard modern day art quilts as unacceptable for the art world, and it is high time museums,  art collectors, and the media take a good hard unbiased look at what is going on in the quilting world today.  Some of them have begun to accept some traditional historic quilts as worthy. But this is another issue than the one I am thinking about today.

Quilting, in any form, should be fulfilling, happy, fun, and emotionally beneficial.  I also believe that, just as traditional quilters mostly strive for those perfectly crafted points and properly sized seams, that art quilters are called upon to also pursue the truthfully unattainable goal of perfectly designed and exquisitely constructed quilts. I am well aware how difficult this pursuit is, because I always end up with quilts that are less than my original vision–sometimes a lot less–even as I can see great progress in my techniques and designs over the years when I look at some of my original quilts and those I make now.

In truth,  quilting of any style requires an understanding of both good design and good quilting techniques.  They also require making multiple decisions on how to reach the goal of your envisioned quilt and solving problems along the way.

Original designs, especially in pictorial quilts, frequently start off one way and end up with big differences,  This is because of finding another, more exciting technique or another design element change that works better than the original.  Art quilts, in my humble opinion, should be pursued to be the best in the quilting world to hold up in techniques and design to the best in the traditional world.  You can’t just slap some fabric and paint on a background and quilt it down.

That is why, quilting as an art form and art that uses fabrics, threads, paints, and beads in concert as its medium requires learning many different techniques and using them like a carpenter uses a tool belt full of fine tools.  Pursuing the full understanding of those techniques is something I have been doing for some time now, and it is wonderful and fun each time I learn something new, or perfect something I thought I already knew how to do.  I am very thankful for the great new world of online classes, shows, and videos that enable me to learn and learn and have a professional and fun time in my studio.

Sew whether you are a traditional or an art quilter or both, go learn and perfect your skills and find the joy of using these new or perfected tools to reach the visions in your head.  Don’t, however, be too hard on yourself.  Perfection is not a human thing…it is only God that is perfect.  Enjoy those little things you know are not quite right in your quilts as a point that shows it is hand-crafted.

OK, I’ll climb down from my soapbox now and go back to work.  😀 😀  Cheers