Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Presentation on Modern Quilting by Rossie

You all have probably already seen this video...  I'm sort of the girl who's always last to the party, but I found this presentation by Rossie, the moderator of the Fresh Modern Quilts flickr group, pretty interesting.  Check out her blog here.

Modern Quilting, Mutant Quilting from r0ssie Rossie r0ssie on Vimeo

(EDIT 9-18-2010, 1851 hours - After reading Sandi's essay on this video and modern quilting, I thought I should preface the following comments thusly:  

I have nothing against the modern movement.  I find myself fascinated by it, and am a member of two Modern Quilt Guilds, going on a third.  

However, I do not consider myself to be a 'modern' quilter.  I appreciate the aesthetic, but I also appreciate the exactness and flow of a traditional quilt.  I much prefer to combine the two, utilizing traditional blocks but using modern colors and fabrics.  See the blog Modify Tradition for some excellent examples of what I like.)

I had a difficult time following Rossie's train of thought throughout the presentation.  Quite a few times, I found myself wondering what point she was trying to make, but I stuck through it.  

Some quotes that caught me, and why they caught me:

"I think that part of the reason that people like the imperfect and the not parallel is that it shows that you made it, that it shows that it wasn't a machine cutting it." (followed by a discussion about how you know someone's hands were on it)

I personally have a problem with this, simply because I don't feel that incorporating odd angles (or wonkiness) and planned imperfections makes someone appreciate my quilt more, that those things emphasize that I made something by hand.  I don't feel that my pieces have any less 'soul' for not doing those things.  Now, I'm sure that Rossie didn't mean to imply that anyone not doing these things is putting less 'soul' into their work, but still...

"Modern quilting and the internet are, like, in love with each other.  I don't think I can talk about modern quilting without talking about the internet." (followed by a discussion about flickr, blogs, bees, and online fabric purchasing)

I don't believe that without the internet we'd have the huge number of quilters labeling themselves 'modern'.  The modern movement has entirely been facilitated by the internet and the free passage of information enabled by it.  The downside to this is that we see just so many duplications of one quilt, right down to the fabric selections.  I think this is a shame...  We're being robbed of our creativity by the proliferation of media, while simultaneously being opened to new ideas.  

I'm kind of torn on applying the term 'wabi-sabi' to modern quilting.  It's supposed to imply a simultaneity, though perhaps that term is aptly applied to my statement about being robbed of our creativity while becoming more open to new ideas.

From wikipedia:  

"Wabi-sabi (?) represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete".[1] It is a concept derived from the Buddhist assertion of the Three marks of existence (三法印 sanbōin?), specifically impermanence (無常 mujō?).  Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetryasperity, simplicity, modesty, intimacy, and the suggestion of natural processes."

I just don't get a sense of transience or impermanence from 'modern' quilting.  Certainly, I can agree with there being 'imperfections' in modern quilts, but are they really imperfections when that was what you intended?  I would argue, probably not.  It's rather like abstract art to me.  Were Miro or Pollack deliberately setting out to create an imperfect canvas, or were they striving to create the perfect expression of an imperfect state?

Hmm... perhaps that is where wabi-sabi enters into modern quilting...

I'm probably over-thinking the whole thing...


Sandi said...

I can't believe I watched the whole thing! You've seen my post about my definition of modern quilting, and you know my opinion. I started writing a comment, and it turned into such an essay that I made it into a post on my blog.

Starquilter said...

Love it all!

Clumsy Chord said...

I agree with most of what you've said here.. I think she was a bit disjointed, or maybe just didn't really have a clear point with some of the things she talked about. (I think she spent too much time talking about definitions of 'modern' not related to quilting, but then trying to relate them back, like the notion of speed and access, in terms of vehicles. I'd stop and mentally go, Wait, what? as if I'd missed a couple stops along the way.)

I don't know what I think about why wonky appeals to people. I don't think it's about showing that someone has made it by hand either because certainly you can do a stack and whack 'wonky' that is as close to perfect as any regular regimented block with perfect angles. I think it's partly that it adds a sense of movement to a quilt, and that's appealing to the eye.

I don't know. I think it's interesting to think about, but it's not something I manage very well to talk about or sort out my thoughts about.

(This is clumsy.chord from LJ by the way.)

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