Fiberlandia Highlights I: The Keynotes
|Namita Gupta Wiggers|
She opened our Conference on Friday, May 1, with her topic,
Quilt: A rose by any other name would smell as sweet...
A rather cryptic title...so she gave a bit of background. Her example, "Object Focus: The Bowl", was a project undertaken at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in 2013, which explored the bowl as an example of an every-day object, an iconic and archetypal form from daily life and the challenge it is when a museum undertakes to present, analyze and consider such a form in the context of its value, its cultural history.
Ms. Wiggers posited that there must be a different way to talk about craft-based work. How does the quilt 'inhabit' the work that goes into its creation? Is there an archetypal form for the quilt, much like "the white cube" in contemporary art?
She then referred to Martha Buskirk's book, The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art, in which it is suggested that the fracturing of artistic genres that began particularly in the mid-nineteen-sixties, when artists like Jackson Pollock "[created] paintings that destroyed painting itself", and Robert Rauschenberg ",,,used paint as a [construction] material like any other."
What evolved was the notion that the physical act of making -- i.e., the maker's process -- is as important as the end-product itself. "A" quilt becomes "the" quilt.
Ms. Wiggers then explored this shift from materials to content, taking as her frame-work the essay, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird", by Thomas McEvilley, and addressing the quilt specifically.
At this point, her presentation became rather complex and my notes, rather sketchy! Here are the points I noted:
- The power of the art quilt to break the picture plane -- materials, layers, scale, temporal duration;
- The art quilt's context: where does the quilt move?
- It's heritage -- which is complicated;
- Time -- the maker's personal history;
- Formal properties; e.g., stitching;
- Attitudinal gestures: wit, irony, parody;
- The viewers' biological/physiological response to the piece; and
- What informs the maker's process?
- Workshops? (e.g., Dorothy Caldwell on mark-making)
- NOTE: Ms. Caldwell is one of the faculty at MAIWA Textile Symposium 2015 (Vancouver, B.C), and will be giving both a lecture and a 5-day workshop.
- Quilt artists mentioned:
in her studio
Working together, Beth and Charlotte gave us a lively overview of all that goes into the production of the biennial exhibition, from preparing for the Call for Entry through the jury process to the hanging of the show. The care and attention to every detail took my breath away. Followiing their talk, Beth and Charlotte entertained questions about entering the Biennial exhibitions, about shipping quilts and the like. Here are some of the quick notes I made during the question period:
- Do you use a service to process your Calls for Entry?
- Visions employs ArtCall to process juried calls for entry for their exhibitions (as does SAQA and many other art quilt organizations).
- Shipping tip: be sure to include a return shipping label and your contract with your item!
- Herewith followed the discussion about return shipping to a U.S. venue from within the U.S. versus return shipping to a foreign country, which is not possible if the non-U.S. artist wants to use the Postal Service in her/his country.
- A swimming pool noodle is a handy 'core' around which to roll a quilt for shipping.
- For hanging?
- Some use a flat rod; others, wood, aluminum or plexi-glass.
And the Big Question -- saved for the end: what's the theme and who are the jurors for Quilt Visions 2016?