Thursday, May 2, 2013

Question Authority!

The most recent post at Daintytime by Sherri Lynn Wood got me thinking about competing in the quilt world, specifically this paragraph:

"I think the notion of being judged is one of the “big life” issues built into traditional women’s craft. It provides us as quilt makers (modern or traditional) with a golden opportunity for exploring and re-visioning  our relationships to authority,  perfection, criticism, and judgement."
It was actually the term "women's craft" that struck me, but not for the reason you might think. I am not opposed to quilting being thought of as women's craft. Traditionally it has been, and there is no use trying to deny that for some arbitrary feminist push. I'm proud that we women are the "leaders" in this art form. (This isn't the article about how craft used here has a different meaning than the crocheted toilet paper cover at the church fundraiser sale, either.) I digress...

I have rarely entered quilt into shows for judging. It's been years since I have. Part of the reason I haven't is because I'm a woman. I live in a world where we are constantly judging each other and comparing ourselves to someone else. Whenever I have tried to make a quilt for a judged competition it's either been an abysmal failure, or I've given  up on it before completion. I start out thinking, "Okay, so-and-so's quilts always win? Why? They do this, that or the other. I should try to incorporate that...." It's really uncomfortable trying to be like someone else. But, it almost feels necessary.

If you read Sherri's post, you will start to see what I mean. The judges were obviously comparing her modern quilt to the "other" quilts. While it is true that a lot of modern quilts use more simple designs, this should not preclude that ALL modern quilts must have simple designs. Or limited color palette. The definition should be more broad.

I honestly believe that if the judges in shows were more split with women AND men judging the show, the results would likely be quite different. (I'm not saying there aren't male judges out there in the quilt world.) I also am a firm believer that the quilt competition arena needs to start adding judges to judge the ART part of the quilts if you have an art quilt category.

If you have judges that have for the most part not studied art and design or even had a passing interest in it, what qualifies them to judge an art quilt? I would like to see a diverse panel of jurors judging quilts shows, find an art director or curator of a local gallery to take part in the judging. Let them weigh in on the critique and let's see where that takes us. The most satisfying part of making art to me, is growth. It would be almost as satisfying to me, to see the quilt medium as an art form grow as well. The only way to do that, is to start treating it as art and give it the respect of a fair and balanced judging system.

Remember this:

“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.” ― Benjamin Franklin


  1. Love, love, love this post.
    so much food for thought.

  2. My dear friend Jackie, who is an incredible quilt-maker, makes her quilts for various reasons. Sometimes she enters them in county fairs, and frequently wins blue ribbons. She also make them as gifts for various occasions, including one with a surfing theme for her nephew (it was made out of his old Hawaiian-print shirts). But the ones dearest to her heart are those she makes with loving care for the Linus Project. She has contributed more than 100 quilts to this charitable organization, and can hardly wait to share her latest projects with her friends. She even sent quilts to Haiti following the devastation in that country. For Jackie, it's the 'why' as much as the 'how' that matters for each and every piece. Her heart is so loving and as big as the great outdoors.