A quick and dirty post this morning from June, since Kristin was unable to do one. I would like to have some continuation of a question that Terry’s last post and subsequent comments suggested. The question is — what are the differences between painting media and stitched textile media? Olga pointed out that making curves in textiles is less physical than doing so in paint, and I think that it’s much harder to make curves with textiles than with paint, and that the effect of the finished work differs subtly in the different media.
Faith Ringgold, Dinner at Gertrude Stein’s, 1991, Acrylic on canvas, tie-dyed, pieced fabric border, 79 x 84″
I’m not looking for champions of either format, just a list of what, as an artist, you can do with this but not with the other medium; what effects you can get with this but not that medium; what subjects work better in that medium than this one; etc. I would also like to hear from people who work in an opposite manner to the obvious way that the medium might suggest.
Yesterday, Terry Grant, Gerrie Congdon, and I saw Faith Ringgold ‘s piece, Marlon Riggs: Tongues Untied, A Painted Story Quilt, (1994, Acrylic on canvas with pieced fabric border, 89 x 59.5,”) in the Cooley Gallery at Reed College.
Ringgold is obviously a painter, with a strong point of view and subject matter that she works in sophisticated (albeit apparently “naive”) ways. She paints in acrylic on canvas, and in the piece I saw, she stitched (“quilted” is too strong a word) with what looked like dental floss in a large all-over grid pattern. But her work, even if it stretches it a bit to be called quilted, references quilts, particularly in her use of borders and repeated motifs, like flowers. In the piece we saw, she centered her figure, bed quilt fashion, and echoed the border floral pattern in the pattern on the chair in which her primary subject was seated. Her borders and corners, however, while from a distance might appear to be a commercial fabric, are painted (even if “pieced”) in a fairly primitive style. She binds her paintings with traditional colorful bindings.
Ringgold’s work is also full, sometimes slightly chaotic, in the manner of many quilted works — lots of busy-ness, in the best sense of the word.
Faith Ringgold, Tar Beach 2, 1990, Silkscreen on silk, 66 x 66″
Ringgold is obviously aware of the confusions her work creates between the traditions of painting, of quilting, of black people, of cultural and material heritages in the world of art as well as the world of African Americans and white Anglos. She loves playing with stories that the confusions can create.
Faith Ringgold, The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles , 1991, Acrylic on canvas, tie-dyed, pieced fabric border, 74 x 80″
Comparisons can help us understand more fully why we choose to work as we do and how we can enhance our choices — or change them. So help me with this list — what can you do in your quilted medium that you can’t do with paint? How does Ringgold subvert the quilted medium while also referencing it? Does she honor it with her referencing?