Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Editing Out

Textile artwork in a mainstream art show is very problematic. Textiles are too 'material' and quilting is REALLY problematic. If you show five textile pieces, the one that you'll have the most problems with in a fine art context is the quilt. People are sniffy about cloth art because it is so immediate and familiar.

Quotes from my tutorial with Catherine Dormor this morning. We were discussing textile practice within a fine art context and the difficulties that all of us who work with cloth and fibers face.

These are real issues and have no bearing on the quality, craftsmanship and conceptual underpinnings of one's work. They are issues that we need to be aware of even if we choose to work as we feel driven to work. Not to do so would be naive.

I'll miss discussions like this.

The artists who have managed to get textiles into the main stream of fine art have been established as fine artists first. Even an artist such as Magdalena Abakanowicz now mutes her textile past.


  1. Your work is gorgeous, Judy. Forget about what anyone else thinks of it as textile art, just keep making it!

  2. that top image, its depths and layers,emergings; almost molecular, strands under a microscope with the dark earth as time wedged as if ground-floor in the background--origin, birthing place

    and yet it opens out, represents
    and i see the interplay of a woven now, of life expanding. it took me in and out all at once. love this (personal)happening

    thank you
    thank you

  3. Anonymous1:11 pm

    heaven forbid we believe that generations upon generations of women were quiet artists without recognition....or that we're all artists.

    that would make art all too easy to get too, all too easy to come by....there's nothing pretentious
    about someone making art around their family life.

    and i think that's really what all that means.

    art cannot possibly equal life, the quiet peddling. it's much harder to achieve than all that.

    art cannot possibly be common.

    and yet i think the truth is that art is the common, uncommon

  4. Beautiful work. Didn't know that about Abakanowicz....strange. The art world can be so trendy & snooty.

  5. Anonymous8:31 pm

    Abakanowicz is one of my all time favs.

  6. I'm going to follow your links in a minute, but first I wanted to say how timely this post is for my current mental state, oh my, yes. Thank you for posting these thoughts here, Judy, fuel for fire...

  7. Competition and commerce seem to go hand in hand. The entrance gates set up by the variety of art worlds are ever changing, impossible to predict, whims of the craft of critique, and have little to do with the production of art itself. Follow a trend and you lose yourself. It's, of course, wise to assess the field one intends to play upon, but only a fool would alter the truth of her work, and you are nobody's fool. Your choices here are thoughtful enough, and so very beautiful. In your learned wisdom you've made a good assessment of the ground. That's all one can do. It's either about you or about them. Your choice. Sometimes they coincide--sometimes diverge. Never let the market alter the joy of your eye, your hands, or heart. There is where the real truths are, the ones that carry us from one day to the next on our brief paths.

  8. this is very disheartening... i know i am often questioned about my stitches in my work, as if they do not belong on a mixed media canvas... but as long as I do what i love .... they can think what they want...

  9. Sadly true. When I changed my art practise from mixed media sculpture that talked about cloth to actually working with cloth itself, it was harder to get grants and shows. But I gotta do what I gotta do!

    So we persevere. Educating our artist peers, curators and the public is an ongoing project. And we must take ourselves seriously too, and be guided by the same rigorous standards of other art forms and media. Discussions like the one you share here are important. I would hope that they can continue outside of the academic context!

    Thanks Judy, for keeping the bar high.

  10. i was questioned by a beloved one, also an artist, "why textiles? they take so long to make. you like paint and can paint, why don't you?" and i received a gift of paints. i painted one large piece on paper. and screwed on the lids. 15 years ago.
    there is a hierarchy, but there doesn't have to be.

  11. I am not sad about what Catherine has said to me in this post.

    I am challenged.

    It seems so dated, that art world that I want to be part of. So mind over body kind of thinking that has been re-thunk in the last 40 years. Phenomenology, knowing with our bodies as much as our minds, is the philosophy that intellectuals are talking, from what I humbly understand.

    But the art galleries and their prejudice towards traditional fine art (painting, sculpture and now video and installation) are not walking the walk.

    What I will do is keep making my cloth art. It's not because I've decided to do so.
    It's because I have to.
    It's who I am.

    Sounds hysterical?
    No, I am very calm about it.
    I am just going to make my work.
    I am going to make the best work I can, and it will most probably be stitched work.

    and then I'll die.

  12. The next time someone sniffs at what I do, be they painter or "fiber artists", I'm going to hand them a cloth handkerchief and tell them to get over themselves.

  13. such beautiful work
    so full of "touch"

    xox - eb.

  14. It's a question that comes to my mind from time to time, when I am concerned about main stream art again... But mostly, I try to forget about it.

  15. Ow, and I forgot to talk about Louise Bourgeoise. What about her?


Thank you for taking the time to connect. Much appreciated.xx