by Board Member Kris Sazaki
For quite a while now, SAQA has realized that its definition of the art quilt does not adequately reflect the diversity of what our members produce. Therefore, the organization conducted a survey of its members during Spring 2011 and received 698 responses. Based on the survey responses and lengthy Board discussions, the SAQA Board has adopted the following definition of the art quilt:
"The art quilt is a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure."
The Board sees the revised definition as a visionary statement. The word "references" allows for a broader understanding of the art quilt, thus creating a potential for growth in SAQA membership in terms of numbers and diversity of artists. The revised definition allows for 3D work and work in media other than fiber/textile/fabric/cloth; it allows for techniques and materials not found in traditional quilting. The revised definition allows for framed, unframed, bound, and unbound work, thereby welcoming growth and development of individual style. The revised definition may not necessarily change submission requirements for any one show or exhibition. Those requirements, as always, remain the purview of the exhibition's curators.
The Board could have chosen not to define the art quilt. After all, many arts organizations do not define their art. It is simply understood. But, SAQA wants to be the resource for quilt artists and to fulfill its mission to educate the public on the art quilt. Adequately helping people understand what an art quilt is became an important reason to revise the definition. In reading the results of the survey and the artist statements from our 2011-13 Trunk Show, it became clear that the previous definition was also confusing - even to our own membership. It was also too long and cumbersome to recite when asked, "What is an art quilt?" Too often people were left trying to explain what the definition meant, thereby defeating its purpose.
This definition will not necessarily change how you work and create, but it will hopefully allow you to more easily convey to others what you produce. Rest assured that SAQA will continue to support you in your artistic endeavors.