My Takeaway

Art Quilt Elements 2014

Click on the link above for an overview video by Lisa Ellis. I didn’t take any photos of the artworks, but they can be seen in the video and of course in the catalog and hopefully on individual artist’s blogs.

In conjunction with Art Quilt Elements 2014, Wayne Art Center hosted a SAQA regional symposium and a talk with AQE artists and jurors. The symposium and talk are over, but the AQE exhibit will be up until May 3rd.

I skipped the symposium because it cost money and I already felt like I had spent enough entering the show, paying for shipping of my artwork, driving to PA, and two hotel nights. Besides, My mom and I wanted to see a little of Philly while we were there. But, I am really glad we went to the gallery talk.

One of the jurors was from the art quilt world, which is good for technical insight, trends, and context. The two other jurors were from the greater textile art world, which brings in a fresh view, broader context, and an eye towards artists concerns rather than technical ones. Unfortunately the art quilt juror wasn’t present, but i thoroughly enjoyed hearing what the other two had to say.

These jurors liked large scale. There were no really small artworks in the show, and there were several comments about wanting to see some of the selected art being even bigger. They appreciated good technique but were not nearly as charmed by it as so much of the art quilt world seems to be. The jurors wanted proof of content and intent.

I was struck by a difference between what the jurors saw and what the artists spoke about. In the pieces the jurors wanted to speak about, they saw stories and points of view. They were drawn in by intriguing details (Eleven 3 Thirteen by Marianne Burr and Random Thoughts by Elizabeth Brandt), by mysteries that needed unraveling (Greek Revelation by Kristin Hoelscher-Schacker, by plays and modulations of color and pattern (Hostas by Jill Ault, Call for Entry by Sandy Gregg). They wanted to be taken on a journey and to have that journey mean something (Anxiety No. 8, David by Judy Kirpich). They liked when there was a provenance (Home at Valley Forge by Lois Charles). They looked for the concept that drove the work.

When the artists spoke about their work, many seemed to focus on their process or technique. It was about arranging fabric until it seemed right, or focusing on details. It was attention to surface design or patterning. Any concept or intent imbued in the work seemed to have been serendipitous. Of course, we didn’t hear from all the artists and there were few that did start with specific intent, and us artists are not always good at explaining our inspirations or motivations on the spot. But I did find the differing points of view to be noteworthy.

Another area to think about, brought up by the jurors, was dimension and breaking the plane. Things could wrap, or move in and out, or just suspend away from the wall.

Context came into play. Thinking more in terms of installation and including other non-fiber elements to further the story. Asking why cloth? What is the best medium for the message? Of course, these are questions I ask myself all the time so I just ate up all that they were saying. I’ve been frustrated of late with the constrictions of many quilt exhibit venues, so this validated my desire to break away from the 4″ sleeve and move out onto plinths or forms, to work extra large, or to just hang away from the wall.

What the jurors liked about my quilt was what it said about our world right now. It’s provenance is here and now in our world of memes and social media. It’s current. They also appreciated it’s visual impact, bold use of color and patterned fabric, and the way the zig zag border became an integrated frame as well as referencing the quilt medium. Things to think about would be what hangs with it outside of a survey show like AQE. What else could I make? Where else would it work? Get it out of the quilt world and into the milieu of pop and other current art. (Although I do think that QuiltCon needs it.)

Some of the pieces that interested me personally:

From further away, Complements by Naomi Adams looks textural and complex. Up close, it’s beyond textural — it’s dimensional. And its also simple. I liked it’s contrasts.

From Stone drew me in with it’s organic shapes and fissures created with denim and dense stitching that modulates the colors. The big surprise was that it was by Hollis Chatelaine who is known for her portraiture.

Diane Firth’s work is pristine as always. Low Tide‘s contrast between sheer tulle and subtly dyed felt is softly serene. Her play of substance and shadow by use of sheers is very elegant.

I enjoyed meeting Benedicte Caneille. She is so friendly and charming. Her work is beautiful too. Benedicte’s Units 27: Sunburst and Julia Pfaff’s Contrast XIII hung next to each other and played off each other’s acid greens, deep blacks, clean construction, and contrast of busy and relatively quiet to a marvelous effect. Kudos to Susan Hirsch for hanging those two together. Fun for me to get to meet Benedicte and to see Julia again to represent Virginia art quilts!

My favorites were Random Thoughts by Elizabeth Brandt and Otaru Winter by Cynthia Vogt. The shapes in Random Thoughts reminded me of Robert Motherwell, but remain in a quilty context, and the quilting itself is fantastically scribbled and patterned. It has to be seen, not described. Otaru Winter is very simple and the most like a traditional quilt in that it is made up of many small white log cabin blocks. But all those blocks are made of silk and the way they are quilted really accentuates the subtle shimmer of the whole piece.

I also liked the way Greek Revelation by Kristin Hoelscher-Shacker plays with foreground and background. First it looks like interesting pebble-like shapes on a green ground, but then you notice that the shapes are really little windows into a scene in the background and all of a sudden you are looking through them trying to puzzle out the story. This is also one of those rare instances where I like the use of the digital imagery.

Stroke by Lori Lupe Pelish: commercial fabric as paint!

Finally, for Deborah, some statistics:

  • 43 quilts in total, chosen from over 600 entries
  • Six Figurative (four humans, one robot, one cat)
  • Seven that looked like recognizable things
  • 30 purely or predominantly abstract
  • Nine utilizing digital prints
  • Five using repeated quilt blocks
  • One constructed of plastic bags, two using Tyvek, one predominantly denim.
  • Two artists named Kristin — and we both spell our names the same!

4 Responses to My Takeaway

  1. Gerrie says:

    Thanks for this. Very interesting and humbling to see what textile artists are doing.

  2. Lorie McCown says:

    Well, um, I think you know my thoughts on this one..Nice overview. I do love hearing a juror’s thoughts, even if I differ in what their criteria is, I still like hearing the process of decision making.

  3. Natalya says:

    fascinating! Thank you!

  4. Karen Rips says:

    Best of show!!! That’s. Huge! Big Congratulatios Kristen. You comments about the judges was really interesting, and also the way the artists talk about their own work