Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Why is it that artists are drawn to work in the quilt medium?

One of the subjects that our youngest daughter is studying at university is craft history. When she was home last month, she chose this quilt of mine to study and has since interviewed me by email and by phone. It was nice for me that it was my own daughter asking questions with critical intent. The essay was due today and I'd like to quote just a few of its 2500 words in this post. The front of the quilt has been made from a single ten meter piece of lightweight cotton fabric hand-dyed by the artist into a rainbow of colours. The design is of two verticals, roughly divided into warm and cool colours. The left panel signifies the husband, while the right panel signifies the wife. While working on the piece the artist discovered that it might be a feminist project. She wrote in her journal at the time that she felt “a rage against being ignored, silenced because I work in craft media. I am a woman, and my work is silenced by my gender. The feminine heart shape, so feminine beautiful and vibrant, is trying to fit into the man's column like shape." Art can change the viewer, and it can change the maker, but it doesn’t always have to be about change. Rather what is really important is that there be communication between the maker and her audience. Textiles are an ideal medium for dealing with inner issues because they have a complex ability to communicate on so many different levels. For Martin, this is achieved through the hand stitching in her quilts. “If you can glimpse a little bit of the maker, than their spirit or soul has come through and it touches you. That’s the 'inner' thing and is one reason why I use so much handwork. People can feel me breathing, and then they realize that they themselves are breathing and that there is a connection here to their own lives. Their inner self connects with my inner self because of this visual language for which there are no words. They are touched by my touching. It is a direct communication. ”


  1. Beautifully written! You must be so proud that your daughter wrote this, and I particularly like the statement, "I am a woman and my work is silenced by my gender." How very thought-provoking!


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