Monday, April 23, 2007
Journal Quilts at the Chicago Quilt Festival
This year at the Chicago Quilt Festival, I spent most of my free time absorbing two stimulating exhibitions. You already saw examples of the first (fabric postcards) posted last week. The second was a large exhibit of Journal Quilts. Personal, unique, moving and technically out-of-the-box, these quilts deserved far more time than I had. You may want to click to enlarge some of these images... I promise they'll load quickly.
The idea of the project was for each participating artist to make one quilt per month, each the size of standard computer paper (8.5 by 11 inches). The exhibition featured five quilts from each of about 400 artists. That's a lot of quilts, a lot to absorb, a giant stew of inspiration!
Some reflect the artist's feelings about troubling international events, such as the ones above. In this case, the artist, Frances Caple, says she is not very political, but was so distressed by the killing of many children at Qana (left) and the distruction caused by landmines (right) that she had to deal with these subjects in her quilts.
Some artists use their montly quilts as a means to practice traditional piecing and quilting techniques on a small scale, and to experiment with various color combinations. The quit above, by Alyson M. Olander, is a compelling example.
Some obviously let their play instinct be in charge, making quilts full of whimsey and joy, such as the set above by Ruthie Powers.
Ahhhhh, here's a set that speaks to my passion... Beaded embellishments added sparkle, texture and interest to many of the quilts.
Some, like the set above, are amazingly realistic, obviously revealing the artist's ability to draw and/or paint. I am in awe of the "painterly quality" in the set above, by Elizabeth Poole.
Some, like the set above, just make me happy. To me, this group has the same feeling as my painted decorative papers. It's all about layers, shapes, colors and textures! Yummmmm!
I think it was the colors which attracted me to the above set by Jane Davila. There's an article in the Feb/March 2007 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine about how she prints these fish, taking impressions from a painted rubber fish.
What do YOU think? Does looking at these make you want to see more? Or, even more exciting, does it make you want to start your own monthy journal in whatever medium you prefer? What about a monthly knit or collage or bead embroidery journal?
You see, we're back to working in series again, a topic I wrote about here. Below is a small selection of the journal exhibition, showing a few quilts from three artists. If you mixed up the "pages," anybody would be able to sort them out again, because each has a "style" unique to the artist. If you polled all 400+ artists who have participated in this project, don't you think each would reply that one of the benefits was the inevitible development of personal style? I bet that every one of them now has a greater sense of security about who they are as an artist.
If you'd like to see more of this work, you can check through the pages of this website, which loads amazingly fast and offers click-to-enlarge on all of the pictures. Or, you can purchase the book, and be able to savor more than 400 images and read the artists' comments about their inspirations and techniques at your leisure.
The Journal Quilt Project has been active for 5 years (since 2002). I was told at the exhibition in Chicago that this was the last year for the formal organization of it. However, in the same way it was begun, any one of us could make a personal committment to do a monthy journal, starting right now! It could be very private, or shared on our blogs. What about a monthy Journal Bead Project? Is there anybody out there who would like to join me in challenging yourself to creating one beaded journal page per month starting in May? As busy as I am, the idea just tickles my fancy!
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Sorry about not being able to provide the artist's name for a few of the above quilts. I thought I had them all written on a couple of scraps of paper, but I must have dropped or lost one of the papers somehow. Help me out, if you can, and I'll update the post as soon as I get the information.
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We'll be returning to finger weaving in my next post! If you have something (pictures, questions, related topic suggestions, links or comments) you'd like me to include, please email me or leave a comment below.