Reading this piece made me revisit a train of thought that's been moving at a slow rumble through my head for a while . . I think ever since I read a piece on QuiltersBuzz (a buzz marketing blog) about how all the new fabric lines all-in-the-mode-of-AmyButler have made quilting fresh and new again.
In a nutshell, here it is . . . on a very real level, I don't want quilting to be hip. One of the things that drew me to quilting in the first place is that it wasn't edgy. In other parts of my life, I love the new and the hip. I get Cookie, Lucky, and Domino. I have a spanking new BlackBerry. I listen to self-burned CDs on which Tony Bennett fades into Ghostface Killah fades into Deerhoof fades into Hem. But, quilting has always been that Milk and Cookies Yankee Candle-scented part of my life that's been a sovereign nation free from detachment, irony, and kitsch.
If you've read my blog for a while, you know that I was asked to enter a few quilts in a gallery show at my college around the holidays last year. So, since I'm still stitching away on my next 10 stars for the Harvest Moon quilt and have no new photos, I thought I'd finally share what I wrote for my artist's statement:
I became a quilter for comfort. I was seeking a respite from graduate studies and wanted something that was not postmodern, did not involve footnotes, and would not try to out clever my already too clever rhetoric. I wanted a billowing bolt of nostalgia on which to rest my weary head.
To this day, I find every aspect of quilting comforting. The hand, weave, texture, tone, shade, pattern of the fabric. The deceptive depth of even the thinnest batting. The moments alone in my quilting garret pondering projects. The thumping sound of the machine as it brings together disparate elements whose only similarity may be that they all once came from a seedy cotton ball. The meditative aspect of machine quilting as I wind first this way, then that, either assuring that the lines do or do not touch in just the right way. The accidental interplay between colors and shapes that surprises at last--no matter how well planned I think the project is.
I once read that women on the prairie would piece an entire quilt top, then painstakingly take it apart, and begin anew to create another, and another. They did so to stave off the madness of long days and longer nights in the oppressive heat and numbing cold. A window opens with each piece of fabric in these quilts; the life revealed in the faded prints, dropped stitches, and hard-earned stains. There are days in each of our lives when we inhabit this prairie. And, like all art, quilts are there to comfort and sustain us, to challenge and push us forward, to make us see life anew.
Now in the interruption-studied 21st century, I quilt for quite the opposite reason than did my prairie ancestors. I long to finish. My heart races as a stack of pieces joins into pairs, sets, blocks, a top, a layered sandwich, and then a finished piece. As I turn the corner on the last bit of whip-stitching on each binding, I can barely contain my excitement. Done! This progression convinces me that some things actually do end—and that this end is frequently both lovely and useful.