Craft vs. Art, one more time – Angela Moll

Yes, I know that this debate is supposed to be over, that this issue is so yesterday… Except it is not over. Many of my fellow quilt artists, as an example, are running away from the word “quilt” like the plague, and for good reason. A couple of recent articles have inspired me to bring this issue up with you, Ragged Cloth Cafe regulars. Here we are: sitting at our tables, a cup of coffee and our laptops on the table. It is just the place to engage in eternal debates, like the artists of the Parisian avant-garde whiling away their afternoons endlessly discussing those issues that refuse to go away.

The tension between modern craft and fine art had been stirring in the back of my mind for a while, when I chanced upon Paul Greenhalgh’s piece in American Craft (vol 67, n. 5, p. 121). Greenhalgh describes how the treatment that modern art historians granted the different visual arts have determined their economic and social fate in the 20th century. “Painting existed and thrived in the 20th century as part of the discourse of modernity”. However, “the concept of craft (…) is something the modern leaves behind (…). To be ignored in the project of modernity is to be denied space within the cultural hierarchy, and it largely explains the philosophical, cultural, and, alas, economic, state of things.”

Anna von Mertens, MATRIX 207/Suggested North Points

Anna von Mertens, “MATRIX 207/Suggested North Points”, Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, California, 2003. Photo courtesy of Jean-Michel Addor.

Basically, Craft has been left out of the story, the one where Art plays a leading role. The story that galleries, dealers, museums use to determine value, to sell and buy, to preserve for posterity. The story that allows the work of some artists to be taken seriously. This story known as the art world. If this picture is true for Craft in general, it is even more true for Craft of domestic origin: textiles such as quilts or knitting.

Once inferiority with respect to Art becomes a defining characteristic of Craft in the art historical discourse, the need to get away from Craft is born: the former Museum of American Craft changes its name, and what used to be called art quilts adopts the less loaded term of mixed media. Those are symbolic gestures, but indicative of an effort to get included in the right cultural story line.

Well, I am getting frustrated with those legitimizing efforts. I cannot help but seeing them as a missed opportunity. To my delight, then, I read a couple months later, also in American Craft (vol 67, n. 6, p. 90), Glenn Adamson’s write-up on his recent book “Thinking Through Craft” (2007): “I have tried to make the case that craft’s inferiority to fine art is its defining theoretical and social property. This means that rather than attempting to legitimize craft as art (…), I wanted to do the opposite. I tried to write about craft as an antithesis, or foil, to the ideals of modern art. Moreover, I wanted to understand how artists who have responded to modernism–some of who are potters and weavers, but many who are painters, sculptors or conceptual artists–have used craft’s apparent disempowerment as a tool of analysis and critiques”.

Right on! I couldn’t agree more. As an artist working in a craft medium I am increasingly skeptical of the value of appropriating modern art properties (such as moving the quilt off the bed and on to the wall) in an attempt to cloak our work with fine art’s legitimacy. To the contrary, I’d like to focus on this theoretical inferiority as a source of strength and vitality. I’d like to view it as a means for Craft to engage with modern art in a way that can bring inclusion in the critical discourse and establish a parity of sorts within the cultural hierarchy. I do not want to be part of Art’s story. I want to be part of Craft’s challenge to Art’s story. I’d like to harness the subversive potential implicit in those neglected practices and create multiple stories, all equally valid and legitimate.

Lisa Solomon, “Over the river and through the woods”, 2007

Lisa Solomon, “Over the river and through the woods”, 2007. (installation shot by the artist)

The story of Craft as a challenge is also developing in other cultural domains. Think about the critique of current economics encapsulated in the DIY movement where textile techniques (home made clothes, anyone?) play a leading role. Think about the local food movement, which has at its core the “hand made” family meal, and offers an alternative to industrial agriculture. Movements which address the breaking points of established cultural hierarchies from different angles, creating an environment where crochet and painting can share the same legitimizing history.

Because talking about art is a poor substitute for looking at art, let me leave you with a few links to some artists that have gotten me to rethink the relationship between craft and art.

  • Anna von Mertens keeps the quilt on the bed, and brings the bed into the art gallery: brilliant!
  • Lisa Solomon‘s multi layered and loving tribute to the doily revels in a play of opposites that transport the viewer into a place of integration
  • Lisa Anne Auerbach: political garments, richly intellectual, wearable and comfortable.
  • Joana Vasconcelos takes lace’s benign use use as cover and decoration beyond its traditional context and scale, forcing the viewer to pay attention and take a second look at the familiar.

I am inspired to look anew at my own quilts. I wonder if I am not looking too hard in Art’s direction oblivious to the power inherent in Craft’s perceived inferiority. What do you think? Should we take the quilt off the wall and put it back on the bed?

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27 Responses to “Craft vs. Art, one more time – Angela Moll”


  1. 1 June March 18, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Angela,

    You asked “June, why do you only use “quilting artist” for your self and not for the outside world? Just curious…”

    “Artist” is the noun, and so the important “naming” part; “quilting” is the adjective that describes the technique I use. For me, and _only for me_, I’m not doing “quilt art” so much as I am using quilting techniques to make fine art. The terms are awkward, of course, but for my personal use, they clarify my intentions in my own mind. The terms would differ depending on what the artist intends, so in this case I specify myself as audience as well as artist.

    For the outside world, I’m totally pragmatic — I use whatever terms I think people will respond to — and if I’m applying to a quilt show, I even have been known to call myself a “Quilter.” But only if I can’t find a work-around.

    I specified myself as a “quilting artist” in my comment because I think clarifying for oneself what one is intending might be most important. Clarifying for the outside world is important only if it furthers the cause, whatever that may be.

  2. 2 Angela Moll March 18, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Sheila: what a fascinating quote! I wonder what other riches can be found by researching metaphorical uses of the world quilt in English.

    What I make of it is that in your reading you have stumbled upon a concept that can be turned into the premise of a body of work involving quilts!

  3. 3 Angela Moll March 18, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    June, why do you only use “quilting artist” for your self and not for the outside world? Just curious…

    Good point about the use of self-applied labels at different stages of development in our work.

  4. 4 June March 14, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Sheila,

    Thanks for linking to Lisa Sanditz’s work. It’s terrific! Really wonderful stuff.

    I would say that the curator’s use of “quilt” in the Smithsonian article is definitely metaphorical/ figurative — even further from the real thing than the usual usages like “quilted fields of wheat” or “stitched-together foreign policy.” In the Smithsonian case it seems to mean only that the images are collaged in a serial (rather than layered) manner. Sanditz has no quilterly references, at least in the images I looked at, in the sense of pattern, stitching, blocks, repeats, etc etc.

    I think that that sometimes we forget that if we think of ourselves as quilters or quilt artists, we are working from very specific traditions: these include the stitch as a prominent element in design, the use of repeats and blocks, the use of other techniques such as applique and layering, and so forth. Some of us begin with pre-patterned (commercial) fabric, which makes our images unique and which causes painters like Matisse to imitate that which comes naturally to our own medium.

    I like to break down the categories a bit further — I call myself (to myself, not to the outside world) a “quilting artist,” since I don’t, except for the stitched line, align myself with quilting traditions and don’t (any longer) feel the affinities or rebellions that some quilt artists feel about those traditions.

    Someone asked why the labels are important, and I think they are in a personal sense in that they allow us to see clearly what we are doing and not doing. If in our work we want to make quilt references predominate and speak to the traditions out of which we work, then we need to articulate those traditions. Otherwise, there’s a kind of flailing around — do I do my work in fabric but make it look like painting (ah, but what kind of painting?) or do I speak in rebellion against women’s work (as Wendy Huhn does)? Or do I use commercial fabrics in my work in such extensive amounts that it becomes a personal style (Ruth McDowell? Terry Grant?)

    And to be fair, I think in the early stages of exploration of art, whether quilting or otherwise, the labels are unimportant. Development and discarding of craft techniques, playing with ideas and making studies, generally fooling around until we get a clear sense of what we are intending is extremely useful. That’s when the labels might not make sense, since to label is to cut down potential.

    But once we are well into our artistic endeavors, naming and labeling and thinking through the implications can prevent us from making soups of ingredients that are unpalatable.

    So I don’t think the term “quilt” in the Smithsonian article has any significance at all; but I do think that figuring out that I think of myself not as a quilter (unless I”m doing bed coverings), and less as a quilt artist, but more factually a “quilting” artist works to clarify, for myself, what I do when I stitch my images.

    This begs all the cultural and general questions, of course, for which I’m sure Angela will smite me mightily — snort —

    But Catherine’s research on pattern is of a piece with seeing what attachments we actually have to our mode of expression and where we have deviated, either strongly or weakly from it. And allow us then to heighten and enhance what we come to know we want to embrace.

  5. 5 Sheila March 13, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    I just ran across this in Smithsonian Magazine’s special issue on America’s Young Innovators in the arts & sciences. Arthur Lubow’s piece on landscape painter Lisa Sanditz includes this quotation by curator Elizabeth Dunbar: “She has taken the example of a quilt as a model and is stitching together all of these pieces of information.”

    I find this a slightly different take on using the familiar image of a quilt to describe some other form of expression. It’s not a connection I would have made in looking at Lisa’s paintings. It is in no way derrogatory. I guess it struck me because of the way many (including me) are running from the term “quilt” to describe our work. Is this the meaning we should be embracing?

    Read the article in its entirety here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/specialsections/innovators/sanditz.html

    You can view some of Lisa’s work here: http://www.acmelosangeles.com/artists/lisa-sanditz/

    What do you think/make of this?

  6. 6 Angela Moll March 13, 2008 at 7:24 am

    Yes, definitely, gender adds an additional layer to this issue. As guess I am assuming as a departure point that the original artist highly values her/his own contribution and wondering if some ways of engaging with the wider art world may not be more effective at communicating this value than others. All assuming that achieving parity in the cultural hierarchy is desirable, as I assume, but which is also questionable. Food for thought indeed.

  7. 7 sewsousme March 13, 2008 at 6:04 am

    refreshing! A thought that has circled in my mind is this issue in not just historical context, but historically women-made art, craft, folk art, and our many forms of expression typically having less value then that of men. Have we indeed ” come a long way baby”? yes and no. It, I believe, starts with the original artists and the value that woman places on her contribution, and as a larger society of women on the value we place on eachothers works. Just food for thought.

  8. 8 Angela Moll March 9, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Pam, good that you bring up the idea of the interactive nature of traditional quilts. Another dimension where we can see the dichotomy between craft and art. Craft tends to relate to the body, such as Pam’s traditional quilt, to activities, such as a ceramic tea bowl. Art tends to demand consideration in its own terms, it claims an inherent aesthetic value, it is autonomous. Think of a Pollock painting, for instance, it is a world on its own. Now, a way to create a work of art from a craft tradition is to appropriate this autonomy and for instance, remove the quilt from the bed and hang it on the wall, next to the Pollock painting.

    Melanie, excellent point! So far as the “grandma” comment challenges the claim to art status that the quilt makes, it can be frustrating, though.

    June, I am very glad that you’ll let me whack away at art and craft whether you back me up much or little or non :-) and I am certainly grateful that you’ve joined the discussion as well as all of you: Melanie, Pam, Olga, Lisa, Kay, Kristin, and all other readers who are quietly keeping us company.

  9. 9 June March 8, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Angela, Pam,and all,

    Pam, I wasn’t implicating Angela in the sentimental view of making quilted art (if anything, i think she’s advocating the opposite), and I love your pressing the idea of sculpture. In fact, one of the famous pieces of art quilting from the 70’s has a body in a bed which becomes a quilt. I’m not at home so I can’t find it by thumbing through books — maybe someone else can dredge it out of their memory. Angela’s take on quilts/craft/art was one that our art making foremothers worked on very hard in the early days of making intentionally quilted art.

    So I agree with Angela that one possible use of quilting in one’s art is to give the art a referential context, one that will point up and bring out the craft and cultural connotations of quilt making and perhaps subvert them.

    But that’s what she would like to do.

    I would like to make wall hangings that use quilted soft fabric, as opposed to stretched canvas, to make meaningful statements about other things in the world — the way a mountain looks when it’s imaged with quilting stitches, or what happens to certain kinds of paintings when they are put on silk and stitched. Ultimately I am interested in the interface between my personal understanding of the world, which changes from minute to minute, and the external environment, the “real” world around me (which can also change quickly) — this is the interface which I want to make visual, in order to point up elements which might be unseen otherwise. The medium I choose to do it in depends upon the subject matter and my particular whim of the moment, which of course is part of aforesaid interface:-)

    In other words, I think the you can use your materials, sandwiched soft fabrics stitched together, to speak about their ancestors and the connotations which they take from their labels: it’s been done and I hope will continue to be done. I am delighted that someone wants to make “quilt” (as in “art quilt” or “quilt art”) a word which refers to an art form that has meaning. That happens to be my bag — art as embodying meaning.

    But I read Angela’s post as being a call to all of us to take on the quilt-as-craft/Or Not controversy, and I wanted to mention that some of us who stitch sandwiched materials together don’t think of ourselves as working in a tradition full of weight and meaning. I don’t even think of myself as doing craft work, and goodness knows I’ve been told often enough that I can’t think of myself as a “fine” craft worker. I’m not interested in fine crafting — a nice competency in doing the work is more than adequate for me. I’m interested in visually embodying ideas and visions that seem not to be trafficed fully in the world — almost the antithesis of taking on the old shibboleths of art and craft.

    Yes, there’s social meaning, but it’s rather boring stuff. That my grandmother made (or didn’t make) quilts is just like the weather — good for starting up conversations and for saying hello to artists and indicating something about oneself in the world — I try not to roll my eyes when I’m approached about the sunshine or someone’s grandmother. I often see people roll their eyes when I say I’m an artist — but then, they did so when I said I taught English, also.

    And yes, there are cultural strictures and structures that we struggle with occasionally (although I have to say that I think we now have in actuality overcome more of the strictures than we sometimes allow ourselves to believe). But the same is true of printmakers and oil painters and almost everyone else except the superstars — whatever medium you choose for your art, someone will object to it — as craft (the poor old Chihuly), as dead (oil painting and novels), as so last year (hard-edge abstraction), as wispy and sentimental (impressionistic painters).

    So whack away at art and craft, Angela, and I’ll admire you for it and probably even love your art — but I won’t be backing you up much. Mostly I’ll be off gazing at a traffic island, trying not to see which angle makes the best composition. But that’s a different discussion for the next round of lattes.

  10. 10 Melanie March 8, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    why assume that “my grandma made quilts” is pejorative?

  11. 11 Angela Moll March 8, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    But June, Craft as a category within the cultural hierarchy has to do with meaning. Social meaning, if you will. Craft as an art historical category has to do with meaning. Meaning encoded in a narrative time-line. Cultural status and cultural legitimacy are meaning constructs. And as such can be purposely used by the artist just like any other meaning.

    Now, the degree to which an artist chooses to engage with any of this in the privacy of the studio varies. But once the work is out in the wider world, it will be imbued with social meanings such as status or legitimacy as part of the process of reception of the art by the public.

    I’ll use quilts as an example, because this is what I know best. A common frustration in this medium is the “my grandma made quilts” comment. And a common strategy to deal with this frustration is to educate the public in the differences between grandma quilts and art quilts, as well as the similarities between fine art mediums and art quilts. With mixed results. I am curious about the opposite strategy: to exploit the relationship between art quilts and grandma quilts in order to create work that engages the art historical narrative in such a way that it is unequivocally imbued with the social meanings reserved for art. For example using the “grandmaness” (may I invent a word?) of quilts to offer a critique of the arbitrary boundaries of fine art could.

  12. 12 Angela Moll March 8, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Olga, the “itch we always have to scratch” is compelling, otherwise we wouldn’t be scratching it, would we? I love this saying. I’ll incorporate it in my vocabulary from now on :-). By the way, you bring up two more itches: quality as a basis for worth, and beauty and desire.

    One can decide to take the long term view and figure labels are temporary. Which I think is great, it is what I do. But in doing so, am I forfeiting the opportunity to participate in changing those labels or in creating new ones?

  13. 13 pamdora March 8, 2008 at 11:18 am

    I don’t think that Angela has brought up the idea of moving the quilt back to the bed for sentimental reasons, I think it’s more of a formalist question. Art quilts hung on the wall are more aligning themselves with painting, which is understandable due to their graphic nature.

    But a quilt on a bed, can align itself more with sculpture as far as the volumetric issues and functionality. I have recently been thinking about the third element in the mix that hasn’t been mentioned so far, that a traditional quilt is made to cover the body (in bed of course).

    I think some interesting work could be make to explore the relationship of the quilt to the body, which to me also raises ideas about the interactive nature of traditional quilts.

  14. 14 June March 8, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Two other examples that I remember of quilting artists using “bedding” as the theme for their art are Rachel Bruner and Ann Johnston. Rachel Bruner of Washington State has a piece in the Tacoma Contemporary Art Museum using an actual bed with a quilt. My memory is that the quilt is satiric or caustic, but I could be wrong. Rachel’s work is always intriguing and meaningful.

    Ann Johnston had a bed quilt on a bed at the Coos Bay Art Museum (where Fine Focus and an all-Oregon exhibit were also being held) some years back. Hers was absolutely stunning — a golden bridge, composed as a bed quilt must be, centered, with falls on either side, and hand painted, of course. She had made it for a daughter or son who was getting married.

    Two very different takes on art-as-referential, referring-to-bedding.

    I myself have no inclinations toward taking up the historical and cultural attributes of quilting or bedding. Like Pam, I use the material because it is malleable and can be textured unlike any other artistic medium. I have no sentimental attachment to textiles and my favorite bedding is a down comforter, with some smooth cotton underneath. Nothing pictoral at all involved.

    I don’t think your question has to do with Craft, Angela, I think it has to do with meaning. And I am taken with Olga’s comment, “most art quilts are neither art nor quilt, but we enjoy making and looking at what we hope are objects of beauty and desire.” That’s perhaps more the crux of the matter than the question of “craft and art.”

  15. 15 Olga March 8, 2008 at 6:44 am

    Oh, the itch we always have to scratch, with the inevitable inflamed running sore. I have personally decided to be an interested reader on the subject but that it provokes almost no comment from me. All I believe is that so much has changed and developed since the days of the Bauhaus for instance in the relationship between art and craft, and that we fall into the pit of short-term-ism too readily by fussing over labels as they appear now. What really moves the goalposts of worth is quality.

    Grasp the peanut! After all, most art quilts are neither art nor quilt, but we enjoy making and looking at what we hope are objects of beauty and desire.

  16. 16 Angela Moll March 8, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Those who need to emphasize, undermine or in any way make a strong reference to the origin of the quilt as bed covering (or to the bed itself) in order to articulate the meaning of their work.

    The question for me is: what other ways can be used to perform the intellectual move that Anna von Mertens executes with those bed-like structures under her quilts?

    I don’t have an answer, I have so far related my works to the wall, not to the bed. But I am curious about were this line of thinking can lead…

  17. 17 Lisa Call March 7, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    “I don’t think it makes practical or aesthetic sense for all makers of quilt-like object to do the same”

    Which group of makers of quilt-like objects do you think should do this? What are the practical or aesthetic issues that define its application?

  18. 18 Angela Moll March 7, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Yes, Yes, Lisa. This is exactly why I think that leaving the quilt on the bed and taking the bed to the art gallery is brilliant.

    I mean, it is a brilliant idea, I don’t think it makes practical or aesthetic sense for all makers of quilt-like object to do the same. But there is a provocative concept here that deserve attention. What does this mean, is there something here that might be more widely applicable?

  19. 19 Lisa Call March 7, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Why does choice of methods and materials define the resulting object?

    The word quilt has a very well defined meaning in our culture and it is about the object on the bed. Which is why we invariably get the “oh my grandma made quilts” comment when we say we make quilts. That word is a very well defined and understood word.

    Isn’t trying to redefine the word quilt to also mean a non-functional object of art for the wall just as much of a shell game?

  20. 20 Angela Moll March 7, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Pam, yes, let’s call a peanut a peanut, without apologies. And let’s harness this response we are getting to stretch the critical discourse to include neglected media. I don’t think it is enough with us knowing that we are artists. The dichotomy between art and craft is to a large extend a discussion on relative value, which is a social construct, not just personal. However, I don’t mean to go on the defensive either, I mean to go on the offensive! To undermine cultural hierarchies that don’t serve as well as artists.

    An example from a medium other than quilts: Lisa Ann Auerbach. She makes knitted garments in a culture where clothing choices are considered a form of self expression. So she takes this very basic function of clothing and makes it literal: she knits loaded writing all over her garments. Then she wears them and they look good on her, like fashion is supposed to. So she is cranking up to the max the very functionality of the object she makes: self expressive, well fitting garments. And she was represented in Art Basel in Miami. How many art-to-wear was represented there? She unapologetically emphasizes the properties of an “inferior” visual arts medium instead of appropriating art’s characteristics and she achieves inclusion in the fine art world.

  21. 21 Angela Moll March 7, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Lisa, sure, “artist” implies making art, and if you are speaking ontologically the term “craft artist” makes no sense. However, in terms of cultural legitimacy, in terms of social role and status “craft artist” makes sense. It actually describes pretty well a still existing tension in the culture: the personal identity of the creator as an artist vs. the social category of the work as “lowly” craft due to it’s medium. And since I believe that cultural legitimacy is valuable, and that it is to a large degree bestowed by art history, I feel this history needs to change.

    I should add that what I mean by “make it in the art world” is to achieve parity in cultural status, not just to achieve commercial viability or recognition. Sorry for the lack of precision.

  22. 22 PaMdora March 7, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    I agree that others will put labels on us and that we cannot control. But we can control our response to these labels, and typically I don’t like to go on the defensive, and I feel that trying to change the name of the media because of marketing trends is a little like playing a shell game, where you try to hide or move the same object around under different labels. But a peanut is still an peanut, right? or is it a legume with origins from South America?

    Rather than being defensive and apologetic about my choice of materials and methods, my nature is to promote the positive. As several have mentioned here, I too enjoy the hand-made touch, the mark of the maker, and feel that many people respond to this at a time when many are sick of so much glitzy mass-produced crap in our lives and also see it in a huge resurgence of people re-finding the joy of making things for themselves.

    In the fine art world right now, there is also a trend of artists making big bucks for things they don’t even make themselves. If the concept is strong and work good, I can like that too. I think the world is big enough for both. In fact it’s so big, that we each have to focus on what we do best and promote it as such. This is how I feel we each do our small part to change history, and I also think we’re doing this right now by having this discussion on-line.

  23. 23 Lisa Call March 7, 2008 at 11:34 am

    “All craft artists trying to “make it in the art world” are essentially trying to rewrite this history.”

    I’m not buying this.

    Partly because of the term ‘craft artist’ – if it’s either craft or art then the term ‘craft artist’ makes no sense to me.

    To me “artist” implies making art.

    Wouldn’t the correct term be craftsman or craftsperson?

    Then the statement becomes:

    “All craftspersons trying to “make it in the art world” are essentially trying to rewrite this history.”

  24. 24 Kay Susan March 7, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Seems to me, if you call it a ‘quilted textile’ rather than a ‘quilt’, you can put it wherever you want – and the word ‘art’ needn’t even be mentioned!

  25. 25 Angela Moll March 7, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Kristin, there is an energy in turning liabilities into assets that is very compelling, isn’t it? I am also drawn to quilts for their domestic history (and present!)

    Pam, I agree totally on the issue of labels we put ourselves. But there are also the labels others put on us/our work to keep in mind. Greenhalgh’s point that art history’s narrative has shaped, among other things, the market place in which all sorts of artists depend to make their living was an eye opener to me. I may be naive and should have seen the obvious, but anyway, that got me thinking…

    And then I wonder, as an artist, how can I help rewrite this history? All craft artists trying to “make it in the art world” are essentially trying to rewrite this history. Rewriting history is a subversive act, isn’t it? An so is engaging in craft… No wonder you find the term quilt helpful!

    The interactive nature of historical quilts…humm… definitely lots of exploring waiting for you in this idea.

  26. 26 PaMdora March 7, 2008 at 7:38 am

    right on Angela! Thanks for this post, I don’t mind this discussion again, in fact I think it very appropriate. One of the real issues I think it the intent and concept behind the work — if it truly engaging, it doesn’t matter what you call it. And if it’s not, the label you put on it isn’t going to make it any better.

    I personally find the term quilt is very helpful, maybe because I know so many artists doing so much mixed media these days, I feel it actually gives me a little edge because I feel it’s a good focus that makes me stand out and gives me opening for lots of interesting discussions with people who are in the field of art. However I never call myself a quilt artist, because I am an artist who is currently making a series of works that draw from the history and construction forms of quilts. And I correct people if they do try to pigeon-hole me as a quilter.

    Thanks for the suggestion to move the quilt from the wall to the bed. This reminds of an idea I had a couple of years ago for a series of work based on the interactive nature of historical quilts that has been lost when we hang them on the wall. Maybe I should get back to work on that!

  27. 27 Kristin L March 7, 2008 at 4:32 am

    Yes, yes, yes! If I wanted to paint on fabric and be recognized as “an Artist” my workroom would be filled with canvases and paint and I would have majored in fine art. I chose however, to make quilts BECAUSE of their inherent domestic history and I’m proud of it. I absolutely love the idea of using “craft’s apparent disempowerment as a tool of analysis and critiques”. Stick it to the Man!


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