Friday, April 24, 2009

Little X
35.5" x 41"
 I made this little quilt, and fell in love with it. I hung it on the wall and my mind started racing with thoughts of when does a little quilt become art? When it is loved? As in the Velveteen Rabbit? When is a quilt art for you? I would love to hear your comments...

Is it art?
Is it art if it just has X's?
X's in a grid??
Is it art if you hang it on a wall?
What if you take it off the wall and give it to a baby?
Is it a quilt then? or still art? or both?
Is it art if it goes to a quilt show?
What if you put it in a traditional category, like pieced quilt?
What if you put it in abstract it art?
Is it art if it goes to a gallery?
Is it art only if you like it?
Is it art if it is evocative?
Is it art if you give it a clever name?
Is it art if it has intent?
What if the X's represent something like kisses, or "X marks the spot" as in pirate, or "no, no, no, I really mean it this time!", then is it art?
Is it art if it is original? (is this really original?)
What if someone famous made it and it got into a prestigious venue, like Quilt National, can X's be art then?
What if you sell it? Does that make it art? Or does it depend on the price, $150, not art, but $1500, then it is art?
What if you put it in a frame, is it art then?
What if you print the image on paper and then frame it, is it art then?
And last, does it really matter?
I made this by hand-dyeing some fabrics in lots of colors. Then I batiked the X's on individual squares, then bleach discharge, and last over-dyeing. I sort of randomly tossed them in a grid, moved a few around and stitched them together. For the border, I started in one corner, and sewed strips around, and around, and around, until I built up 8 layers, like going around a log cabin block, except not changing the colors as I went around a corner. The back is sewn in 4 large color blocks, red, blue, green, and orange.
 This is the very first time I used the escape hatch finish on a quilt. This means that I sewed the front to the back all around the edges with the batting. Then I cut a slit in the backing and turned everything inside out. I little fusible on the slit and you can just press it closed. Then I quilted it. I was a bit worried because I didn't use fusible on the layers. I was concerned that I would get lots of wrinkles on the back as I quilted it, but somehow I lucked out, no wrinkles! Hurray! And, when I was finished quilting, I didn't have to put a binding on it, the edges were already finished. I put a hanging tube over the slit, and it was set to go!


Margeeth said...

I have no idea whether your little quilt is art, or what the criteria are to call something art, but it sure is beautifull, it has a very powerfull look.

Anonymous said...


your choices of color are wonderful, happy and delightful. I consider it art, because I like it! Art is in the eye of the beholder.



Sherryl said...

Your Quilt is lovely. Is it ART? Art is in the eye of the beholder. Does it matter? Your quilt has good design even if it is not complex. It has well thought out color combinations that are very pleasing to the eye (mine at least), and it looks pretty. Since no one has really defined what ART is, I think you can label this anything you want....and if you get tired of it, you can send it to me VBG.

Kathryn Kistner said...

Kathy, Great questions!

Here's another QUESTION: If the quilt can be *EASILY* DUPLICATED, is it art?

The pieces that evoke the sense of "art", to me, are pieces that would NOT be EASY to duplicate (by me). Maybe the fabric combinations are especially unique, or the shapes are unexpected; or perhaps the placement of the elements is what sets it apart. It could be anything, really... color, subject, size...

When I look at many of *YOUR* quilts, Kathy, I can't imagine following a kit or a pattern to get the same results, even with a template. "A little different" from your original could RUIN the effect.

Then I realized that "art" is a definition; a label. If we define a piece *AS* art, it *IS*. (Maybe it's a TOTALLY new expression of art that no one has ever seen before; but it IS art because we SAID it was.)

THEN we get into that OTHER question of "good art" or "bad art". But "good" and "bad" are completely subjective. (No definitive answers, here.)

Then I came to this conclusion:

Art IS.

The MOMENT we add ANYTHING else to the sentence, we begin limiting the art itself; eliminating some of its potential; chopping off some of its "parts" or aspects.

We only need to CHOOSE which aspects we will express in THIS moment, in THIS [ART] piece.

Whew! Glad I could at least answer my OWN questions.

My soul understands this completely, and is jumping with joy; my mind still thinks it sounds utterly stupid.

I love your little quilt that IS when it IS; that ISN'T when it ISN'T; and that makes me smile NOW.

From Kathryn Kistner, who's now saying,
"I'm not wishy-washy; I'm EVOLVING!"


Allie said...

To me, if you make it, it's art. Whether it's a bed quilt, a wall quilt, a piece of jewelry, or everyday pottery - if it's made by hand, it's art. Art goes beyond what it looks like and what it's made of - it springs from the mind and soul of the creator.

I love this little quilt. It's VERY happy.

sher said...

I think it's art it is original, and has incorporated design elements (such as balance, harmony, line, movement, focus, or whatever all those things are called). Or,if it is fun to look at, in this case.

I think it does count as original, because of the way you have put it together. You didn't copy another quilt, you followed your heart, yes?

This is an art-full quilt. It makes my heart sing and I would gladly hang it in my house! If it were done in a paper media: either printing, painting, pencil, collage - no one would question that it is art.

So there.

Anonymous said...

I had your blog post up on my work computer and read part of it to a co-worker who's a novice quilter. She thinks that all quilting is artistic. I believe your little quilt is art because I love it; because you used color, value, and line to great effect when designing it; because you used your artist's eye on it; because it looks fabulous on the wall and it would look great with baby drool spots on it.

It amazes me how you can be so prolific and so artistic. Beautiful.


Melissa ;-) said...

Of course it is art! A quilt is ALWAYS art! And if it makes you feel good, then it doesn't matter what the title is. You should always share what makes you smile. Chances are good that you will make someone else smile also. You did me!!

Barbara Pozek said...

kathy, you asked great questions...
There are actually rules to art, and definitions, but, as you can see from other comments here, no one really cares about them any longer.
I think you really have to approach the "what is art question?"with defining it yourself and let everyone else's ideas go by the wayside. It's art because my neighbor says it is.. well, doesn't work for me.
Since you asked though.. :)
I believe art's primary purpose is to communicate to the viewer. It is a conversation between creator and viewer. It says, "I think this is impt. or funny, or interesting..." and I want to share it with you"
I believe the CRAFT of art is the ability to master the materials used to create the piece you intended. While people often talk about "happy accidents", that's a lack of mastery. (did you mean to have a sploch on that one block and if so why?)
Keep in mind that people can say anything is art, but there is good art and bad art, even in art museums.
Your piece is fun and bright, but I don't think , given your other pieces, you think it's art, just a fun experiment. I do imagine it could be seen as art somewhere, and someone would buy it, but if you're asking the question, you already know the answer.

Martha Tsihlas said...

Art is the creation of beautiful or significant things. Therefore your quilt is art!
Love the colors!!

Kathy York said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! I am overwhelmed by your thoughtful responses! I am intrigued that so many of you thought of this piece as art and were kind enough to tell me. It sort of leaves me wondering if people who didn't think it was art, just didn't want to comment. That's okay too, it wouldn't have hurt my feelings.
And whether it is art or not, I am happy that so many of you like it. I laugh because what appeals to me so much, the colors, the design, the strong lines, are also appealing to many of you! I feel less alone in the world when my work connects with other people. The same features that compel me to create my work, are also the things that allow me to see the beauty in an elegantly designed municipal trashcan, a fern frond uncurling, the lines in a saguaro cactus, the window patterns in buildings, the simple flat graphics of childrens' picture books, Target commercials,...the list goes on.
And what is Art to me is deeply personal, I know it when I see it. It touches me. It is evocative, I feel something. When I make Art, regardless of my feelings, I do not live in a vacuum. It is helpful when other people see it as Art too. So thanks!

Deb Thuman said...

I love the way you used color and I'm inspired by how you did the border.

The original quits, made from scraps and made to be used on a bed to keep one warm, were and are art. Women took scraps and did their best to make something, if not beautiful, at least pretty to look at.

Carmen Rose said...

It is art if it comes from the heart and soul of an artist, and you my dear are an artist. Therefore it must be art. And I (for one) ADORE it! Just like those old Amish quilts that were so graphically simple and packed such a marvelous punch... this works the same way.

Beena said...

Lots of people think that art is a thing, or something one would use to describe a certain aesthetic quality of something. But I think it's more about "the process". There's an "art" to many things (cooking, painting,quilting, dancing, singing, etc.), and it usually involves the passion of the creator of those things.

I get annoyed when people think I'm an artist who makes quilts. I am even more annoyed when people think I'm a quilter trying to be an artist. I am both a quilter and an artist, and don't feel a person should have to continually "qualify"! (laughing)