Why Quilts?

The question I am asked most is “Why do you make quilts; why not paint?”

There are many reasons I first began to make quilts. First of all, I love antique quilts and was taught to value craftsmanship by my grandparents and parents. Quilts are a part of our family history; through quilting, I honor the women who came before me, while also poking fun at outdated attitudes.
I also love to paint, dye, print, silk-screen and do all sorts of mixed media in the studio. On the surface of the quilt, I can explore all of those options, experimenting and playing with new techniques. I am an experimental artist at heart and love the possibilities inherent in fabric. No other medium short of sculpture offers the fabulous texture of the quilted surface.
Art quilts can make a dramatic backdrop for any space. Quilts are also easier to store and ship than paintings which require special boxing and extra costs in framing.

But today, most of all, I love the tension created by the jolt to expectations my quilts elicit. Any audience has built-in expectations about quilts. The expected quilt is handmade. A patient grandmotherly type woman makes the expected quilt from traditional patterns. The expected quilt is used on the most intimate item in a house, the bed and these expected quilts are supposed to give you warm fuzzy feelings.
I love to challenge preconceptions and my quilts use all of these presumptions to turn expectations around in a surprising and often funny way. Made with a long arm machine and a large format printer, these quilts still have a tenuous relationship to the traditional quilts. By using repeat blocks in various layouts, the secondary design elements set up a pattern reminiscent of a traditional quilt. But the use of cutting edge technology is contrary to the “made by hand” axiom of traditional quilting. The theme and subject matter is obviously non-traditional and the drawings are meant to be humorous and many layered.  

One Response to “Why Quilts?”

  1. Susie Monday Says:

    I too think that making quilts both honors the past — women making stuff — and the future, as art expands from the traditional media. The trick is to have content that makes the form meaningful. thanks for this meaty post.