Friday, May 02, 2014

guild time!

some ladies where i work have a quilting group.  they call it a quilting guild, although there aren't any dues, so i don't know if it's "official." although, to be frank, i don't care if it is or isn't. it's fun to be around people who like to quilt and are making things.  we meet once a month at work and bring things to show or talk about the latest charity quilt.  that's one of the very cool things about the group; they make a charity quilt or two a year, and either give it away or auction it off and donate the proceeds to a group.  i think the next one they are working on is going to be a quilt that is donated to a hospice house.

i keep saying "they" because i'm not so sure about joining.  on one hand, yay, quilters! on the other hand, some of them are kind of uptight.  i really like my weirdo quilts. i like to work without a pattern. i like modern quilts, and improvising as i go. i like to buy fabric with no idea of what it will or won't become. a few of the ladies take very expensive classes and only make quilts with fabrics from the same line and designer, and are very serious about the art and technique of it.  i think all creative people face this; you have painters who prefer realism, and painters who prefer abstract forms and color.

one of the ladies has a physical reaction to my work. a "back up in my chair" reaction.  she spends all of her time looking at my stuff and saying, "no, no, no, i couldn't do this." which is fine, i get it. abstract isn't her thing, heirlooms are. at the same time, i like suggesting she try to loosen up.  she might like it. the same way i might like doing something more traditional. right now i'm just really into color and weirdness, but that doesn't mean that i think the work she does is any lesser than my own. traditional designs are gorgeous, and her quilts are really very beautiful.

there's a snobbery in quilting, though, that i can't get into. it's so hard for me to want to be a part of this thing and wanting to roll my eyes when someone goes on and on about juried shows.  i know that as women our art is often considered "craft," and that things that are useful are often relegated to less than art status. pottery made by men for no reason is art, a lovely water jug made by a woman who uses it daily is craft, for example. what i want is for the quilts i create to be BOTH. useful and beautiful and art.  abstract and homey and make-do. i want it all. i don't want to have to fight to be considered art, and i don't want to argue about why craft is important.  at the same time, i'm probably not carrying as many years of discrimination and disregard as this lady in my group. her work is considered frivolous and in the way, her partner rolls his eyes at the time and expense it costs her.  i have a family and partner who think what i do is amazing. who are supportive and open to new ideas.  i don't have to justify the fabric i buy or the room i use or the time i spend doing what i refer to as "work." i don't have to carve out time for it, i expect it and am given it. it helps that my kids are older and my husband is a hippie. i know not everyone is as lucky. i also think that as women, we internalize what society tells us. that our desires are too much, that our crafts are too distracting from our work, that the way we express our artistic selves is just a hobby. there isn't a lot of value given to women having alone time, to just create without purpose. to play. to explore and make and try new things.

to which i say, as my mother said before me, fuck that noise. let's make quilts and afghans and paintings and design bathrooms that feel like underwater grottoes and gardens that are home for fairies and gnomes. let's not feel bad about taking time to do what we want. let's be kind to ourselves. let's support other women and not make everything into a goddamn competition. life is short. make good stuff.   

1 comment:

kc said...

great post with great points.

I've encountered this with my grandma - she has a hard time "letting go." when she does she makes beautiful things! (paintings, quilts, etc.) but she wants everything to be realistic, planned, etc. it's really hard for her to not judge her own work by what she thinks it "should" be. I think a lot of artists face that.

I hate that they are judgy towards your quilts and I don't blame you for being cautious about joining. I'm sure if you started making comments like Oh I just could NOT sew like you sew! OH GOSH NO THE HORROR. she would not like it either... I wish everyone could just accept art as art and to each their own. on the other hand - maybe you joining the group could help change her mind... even just a little. there is a whole other quilting world out there - very popular - that she may not realize exists.

I, too, am lucky that my guy COMPLETELYY respects and adores all of my handiwork. I can't imagine being with someone who didn't.