Thursday, January 04, 2007

Griselda and Rozsika

Patchwork quilts are a distinctive form of art with different kinds of relations between maker and object and between object and viewer. These are RICHER than the relations of making, using, and viewing so called "high" art. Work and art come together.

This is what is being effaced by art history when it categorises quiltmaking as decorative, dextrous, geometric and the expression of the feminine spirit.

There is a value system. Any association with the tradition and practice of needlework and domestic art can be dangerous for an artist, especially when that artist is a woman.

Why is the spectre of domestic art so menacing, especially for a woman?
Because high art and the fine artists have come to mean the direct antithesis of all that is defined by the feminine stereotype.

We never speak of masculine art. We never say man artist.
We just say art. We just say artist.

But the art of men can only maintain its dominance and privilege in the pages of art history by having a negative to its positive. Ideology is not conscious. It works unconsciously. It reproduces value and belief systems of the dominant group. Male dominance began in the Renaissance and expanded in the 18th century. It was articulated in the 19th century and by the 20th century was so NATURAL that it was taken for granted and women artists were just not mentioned any longer in the art history books.

If feminine is the negative of masculine, and if masculine is dominant, how do women artists produce meanings of their own if the language we use affirms men’s dominance and power and reproduces their supremacy?

paraphrased from Old Mistresses: Women, Art and Ideology by Rozsika Parker and Griselda Pollock (1981)


  1. what a wonderful thought provoking post. No surprise then that the male dominance in art has those of us making 'womans art' struggling to find venues that showcase our work as ART rather then craft...

  2. I think one of my main missions in life is to see quilts in art galleries. Quilts are an amazing medium and need to have more respect.

  3. Anonymous2:42 am

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