Thursday, July 28, 2011

the new old debate

The ART OF QUILTING is a phrase that usually makes me think, "Art? Can I be sure?" as I ponder the decorative habits of quilters and the common argument of Art v/s Craft.  It's not that I don't want quilting and other craft media to rise into Art's striking realm of beauty and power.  I too use craft media such as felting, crochet, ceramics, and weaving to create works I call my art.  I recognize the uncomfortable moment when the artist has to ask if the work is really "there."  This is a subjective question and answer.  I think many quilters, crocheters, knitters, etc. look at their awesome expression of creative power and think, "ART!" but I beg to differ.  There is a jumping off point where it's beyond you, the creator, and the work represents a larger beauty than your own and speaks to a larger audience than you can imagine.

Before I begin to sound too grandiose and pompous, I'll bring this back to the point of this post - Shawn Quinlan's Pop Art Quilts.  This weeks email newsletter from Hand/Eye Magazine tells a short story of Quinlan's beginnings as an artist and includes a fantastic slideshow of his work.  I recommend you take a look.  The works are an awesome assemblage of political satire, the hilarity of pop culture, the art of collage, and the craft of quilting.  From the works I viewed, it seems he has two styles of composition: a poster-like, 2D presentation, and a pictorial narrative via a landscape or scene.  I'm fond of the latter style as I recognize Quinlan's ability to use the immediately abstracting fabric pieces to create a strong sense of place and mood.  Below, an example of the landscape style:

So, as the debate over whether Art and Craft can lie in the same bed continues, I believe that artists will decide.  I imagine that the answer will evolve more slowly than art experts and historians prefer because artists will continue to use the media that best represent their concepts.

More about Pittsburgh, PA artist, Shawn Quinlan can be found here:

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