Art Vs. The Rest of the World Follow Up

I had so many great comments after last week’s blog post, that I thought I’d do a follow up post so that everyone can see them — plus some more of my thoughts 😀

Linda says:

I agree with your rant, Kathleen! I just haven’t been quite as open about saying so because I didn’t want to appear petty for not winning any ribbons myself. However, I completely agree that it seems the judges were looking for “dumbed down” quilting, and that anyone who quilted elaborately was penalized. I’m doing my own blog post about this, and linking back to yours. I hope that’s okay! Also, have you noticed how many quilts in the show used mostly solids? I hadn’t noticed until comments came up on IG. All those collections of gorgeous prints, and how many were seen in quilts displayed at QuiltCon?! Just some more things to ponder… and perhaps rant about. I hear ya, girlfriend!

Shayna says:

I get the impression that a lot of people think that modern=simple. And while that certainly can be true, it isn’t always. What it comes down to is that it’s a juried show and judges are people who pick based on what they think and what they like. I’d really love to see a modern wholecloth with really interesting quilting win a ribbon next year.

Sarah says:

I love the mantra of finished is better than perfect, and I love teachers who help make longarm quilting accessible to everyone. However, there is a difference between everyone doing it and finishing their own quilts and then quilting that is ribbon-worthy status. Anyone CAN quilt and will get better with practice, but that doesn’t mean everyone is going to have the natural talent and put in the time and dedication to become ribbon worthy. There are so many amazing modern longarm quilters out there, and it saddens me that you (being one of them) and others feel that quilts with heavy/intricate quilting were penalized or not appreciated.

It’s also interesting to note that the Modern Quilt Guild when first created – their mission statement or about us verbiage specifically referred to quilting/finishing your own quilts on your domestic machine. They have since removed that, but I think that is the direction they are coming from and maybe this is a carry over of that perspective.

Gemma says:

Amazing quilting wasn’t valued in this instance because not everyone can do it. In actual fact I think it’s a small amount of natural talent and a lot of practice. I think this is the same reason that excessive/amazing quilting isn’t considered by many to be part of modern quilting. I’m trying to keep my potty mouth in check here, but it’s very frustrating.

Jake says:

I wasn’t at Quilt Con but I totally agree with the idea of what you are saying! Quilt trends seem to come and go, which is why I’ve never been interested in competition quilting, and the current trend is not FMQ but just simple lines and crap, which, don’t get me wrong, look fine on many quilts. I am no professional, but I quilt well enough to quilt my own quilts for friends and family and that’s good enough for me. I ovne designs that enhance a quilt and I love the straight lines as well (though I HATE doing them!).

Nikki says:

I agree! I was actually chatting with another friend about this, and she mentioned that most of the winning quilts were straight-line quilted. (I didn’t keep track, so I’ll take her word for it.)
I love straight lines, I really do. And matchstick quilting, WOW. But I would have liked to have seen more free motion as well. I think that some people believe that straight lines are the only way to quilt “modern”. I’m not saying those are the judges’ thoughts, but I’ve heard it from others (including my own sister, who doesn’t quilt, but is damn picky about anything I make for her!).
Straight line quilting has its place, but in some cases I think it makes the piecing look too flat.
As for my friend’s comment about the winning quilts being mostly straight line, I have a bit of a theory. 😉 I saw a few really fun quilts that were long armed by the amazing Angela. I can spot her quilting so easily, but maybe that’s because I love her work so much. Anyway, I wonder if the judges spotted it too (yes, labels are covered, but her work is so distinct), and subconsciously (or consciously?) tried to award others?
Or perhaps the judges put a lot more emphasis on workmanship this year, and straight lines are the easiest way quilt “well”? Or the quilters felt that they wanted to show their best skills, and they weren’t confident in their free motion for a show?
I think we’ll see the winning quilts in the modern shows evolve as time goes on. 2 years ago I felt that design was weighed far more heavily than workmanship; this time around I felt there was a better balance. I guess we can’t compare the QuiltCon show to something like Festival, because Festival is full of pros. But I’m excited to see the modern world continue to evolve!
I love quilting for others, but I also think anyone *can* quilt. As someone said above, it’s a bit of talent and a lot of practice. I like seeing work in a show done by the “average” quilter (as opposed to the pros). There are several free motion/long arm quilters who have come out with really inspiring books lately, so maybe more people will take the leap to free motion! (And the rest can hire us to do it. HA!)
And now I’m done rambling. 😉

Jean S says:

Because so many modern quilts are linear and use solid fabrics, straight line quilting (although boring) does compliment them. That doesn’t mean freehand quilting isn’t appropriate, only that you do have to think a bit more about the total design using freehand designs. If you haven’t done a lot of quilting, it’s probably easier to use what you know will work. I agree that the majority of modern quilts are pretty boring when it comes to quilting. Time and practice can change that. As the modern quilt movement progresses, you will probably see more creativity in the quilting designs.

Thanks to everyone who commented 😀 I had so much fun reading them. And I guess I just want to re-iterate… while I was disappointed not to see more free motion quilting at QuiltCon, I still believe that everyone can free motion quilt, and if they are interested, should try. And if that takes away from the “artistry” of free motion… fine. But I think most people can tell the difference between poor free motion and great free motion, and I do think that great, even good & mediocre, free motion quilting can really add a lot to a quilt that pure straight lines cannot. And I think that this should be rewarded. In a slightly meaner tone, I also feel that quilts with really bad free motion (that truly takes away from the piecing of the quilt) should be penalized. The quilting of the quilt is a part of the final design, and should be treated as such in shows.

That’s it for this topic though (for now anyways) watch out for a proper FMF this week.

Later days,
Kathleen.

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5 responses to “Art Vs. The Rest of the World Follow Up

  1. Hi, I just read a lot of the posts and though I haven’t been to the shows about the judging thing…it seems to me they should maybe consider having a few different levels of quilting? Those by hand and those by machine and levels within. I have to honestly say I don’t really care about who gets the blue ribbon. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. And every time I’ve ever seen a blue ribbon……I always saw 10 that I thought were better!

  2. Join the postmodern quilting revolution! 😉 I could not care less what the MQG think is modern, I like what I like and if that is feather quilting and scrappy prints, then lets just say modern quilting is not for me (and modern art is soooo 1960).

  3. This is a fascinating topic to me. What I see here, is an example of how once we define ourselves, or a group, we begin to challenge that definition, in our hearts and minds, as well as in deed or in fact. I am just now finishing a quilt…I can’t decide whether it is “modern enough” to take to a guild meeting for show and tell. In enjoying the inspiration of Modern Art, we have also invented a new set of “Us and Them.” Now what?

  4. Aww, thanks for including my ramblings. 🙂
    I absolutely agree that the quilting as part of the design, and I think that the quilting is weighted a lot more heavily in traditional shows (just my opinion). I even saw a few references to the quilt that won for Best Machine Quilting and the long arm quilter wasn’t even listed! This wasn’t on an official QC site (they did credit appropriately), but I think it speaks volumes as to where the emphasis is currently placed in the modern quilting world.

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