modern art makes for modern quilts

DSC_0053 I’ve always wondered how much modern art, specifically that of the minimalists and color field painters, has been influenced by the motifs used in quilting. I mean, even from its inception, quilting has been a marriage of form and function, and the same principles of composition apply to quilting as to graphic design regardless that they may be unspoken, unwritten, or intuitive. Given my love of these artists’ work, it seems that my shift from painting to quiltmaking was only part of a natural progression. I can’t look at any of these paintings, drawing, or prints without trying to break them down into bits of fabric. How would I piece them? I start thinking about numbers and dimensions and methods of construction.

Ellsworth Kelly is one of those artists whose work really takes me there, into this zone of analysis and deconstruction. So many of his paintings look like they were conceived of in his early childhood as a vague notion while he watched his grandmother stitching. I’ve often read that his work was inspired by nature, but I’ve never heard anything about his work being influenced by quilting. I do know that many quilters cite him as an influence, myself included. I’ve paid homage to him before. This time I went with another one of his quilty styles, inspired by this painting:

DSC_0054 I figured that his method of cutting up a huge panel (or panels) painted with parallel brushstrokes into 20 smaller panels could easily be replicated with long strips of fabric sewn into panels which are then cut and squared up into smaller panels ultimately joined into columns. I picked two contrasting shades of Kona and went to town making strips with a rotary cutter and no ruler. (That part of the process was scary yet liberating.) I didn’t overthink things once I got into the process. I just kinda went with it and let the pieces fall where they did, randomly filling in blanks with whatever size bits of the Charcoal Kona I had left. Making this was SO much fun. It felt totally reinvigorating. Maybe some day soon I’ll make another one and push things a little more by using tone on tone or textured fabrics or even introducing more color. I don’t know yet, but I know I enjoyed the process lot.

DSC_0220The quilting, however, is another story. I thought I would do some easy, breezy meandering lines in light gray, hot pink, and black. So much fucking puckering. Like a motherpucker. I blocked the hell out of it, but there was still so much directional wrinkling. And that’s the thing. I love shrinkly, wrinkly quilts, but a) I don’t think that was quite the aesthetic I wanted for this one, and b) it’s the directional wrinkles that bug me. On an upnote, I did my first invisible binding (awwwww! baby’s first!) and was impressed by how easy they are to do. My edges look pretty damn sweet (if you can look past the wrankling). Onwards! This project was a great learning experience, and lately, that’s what I find most compelling.


One thought on “modern art makes for modern quilts

  1. Pingback: chances taken | sotosewn

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