Wednesday, February 27, 2013

the Post-Modern quilter

One of my favorite moments at QuiltCon was coming across a profound quote that announced a small aisle of vintage quilts.  The quote said:

"This presentation of quilts, 
representing the different dreams 
and different voices of the makers, 
is absolutely in the interest of feeding the momentum
of the ever-expanding appreciation for innovative quilt making 
and allowing the conversations to continue
with all the nuance that these works of art merit."  
- Roderick Kiracofe

After all the emotions I'd experienced, this quote washed over me like the calm, clear waters of a peaceful sea.  It encapsulates what I hope to see our community do when we meet together to share our quilts.  Whatever else happens, I hope that we nurture a Nuanced Conversation about our art, both why we do it and what we do. 

Scholastically speaking, a "modern" worldview is one in which truth is something that can be pinned down.  Careful systems of judgement, scientific approaches, rules, etc. can be used to precisely define life.  Draw those hard and fast lines.  Check boxes.  Judge.  Award winners. 

In contrast, a "post-modern" worldview insists that some parts of life are not quantifiable.  Instead, many truths and value judgements are the result of perspective.  Truth is personal.  Meaning comes through experience, and experience today is informed by all that has come before.  Experience tomorrow will differ still.  In such a world Conversation reigns, change is expected, diversity celebrated. 

So, what kind of quilts do you want to make?  Modern?  Traditional?  Modern Traditional? 

The answer for most of us is.... who cares?  We want to make quilts that we like.  We want to make quilts for our own personal, diverse reasons. We want to share those reasons, our stylistic passions, our process, ourselves.  And we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is Value in a personal, authentic expression of self.

That's why we push back when we feel boxed in by rules and labels that attempt to define something that's mostly impossible to pin down.

We are makers.  I, personally, hold that there is a Divine Maker who gifts each individual a unique, creative spark.  When I create authentically I am most "me", and I honor Him who made me.  That's why creating feels so good.  It's practically divine.

I'm not trying to point fingers here or to start a nasty debate.  The way is already clear in our hearts - make what you love.  We know that labels have quite limited use.  The modern tendency to draw hard lines doesn't fit our experiences.  So, in that way, I think that most of us are already post-modern quilters.  Though we probably shouldn't go around much saying so, because again labels have such limited use.  My hope is only to plant a seed that will help you and me understand ourselves and our movement. 

As post-modern quilters, we bring our diverse dreams and our distinct voices to our art, and we hope to enjoy a nuanced conversation with other makers - all other makersBecause, that conversation will transform us, change us.  And growth is always welcome.

39 comments:

  1. That's just plain beautiful. I think I'm tearing up.

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  2. very well said, I agree completely.

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  3. Well said, could not have been said better!!!! I love your train of thought as I too dislike labels. Labels do nothing to help with personal growth.

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  4. Here, here! Great job articulating what most of us do/feel.

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  5. Beautifully and tactfully stated, my sweet friend! I have been working on putting my thoughts concerning my feelings about this together too...and I just can't agree more that the make what you love aspect of being creative is the most important rule we should all be following. :)

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  6. I always enjoy reading your posts. Very well said indeed :)

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  7. Love your conclusion. I was hoping you'd come to something like this in the end because I love your quilts and I'd hate to see you try to be either more "modern" or more "traditional." I'm somewhere in the middle too and I love the freedom to make one quilt totally different than the one before. The (endless) variety is what makes quilting fun and new every single day.

    You're really one of my favorite quilt voices. Thank you!

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  8. Brilliantly stated - something we should all have handy to reference as we create. :)

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  9. Good thoughts! I share your reason for why creating is so good and so important too.

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  10. Beautiful! Thank you for such a nice post. It was. Long day and it's nice to sit down and read this. Such positive energy - makes me feel like getting of the couch and making something pretty. Fill the world with quilt positivity!

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  11. Makes me feel good about being a quilter.

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  12. Agree totally...couldn't have said it better...I'm a fellow "maker" too!

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  13. So brilliantly stated! I love that quote, and I love your thoughts that followed!
    Thank you!

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  14. Beautifully said. I definitely agree!!

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  15. You are absolutely correct...we create...we honor...beautifully sAid!

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  16. Nicely said, Rachel! I think we most reflect our Maker when we create.....

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  17. Well put. I had a fabulous time at Quiltcon, but did question how "modern" I am. I like pretty prints and prefer things to be somewhat symmetrical. Often I actually use a pattern or at least plan what I want the finished product to be. :-)

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  18. Thought-provoking ideas. Love the quote, thank for sharing. Growth is ALMOST always welcome. =) The process is sometimes pretty darned painful!

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  19. Beautiful sentiment and well said. Our Maker must be proud of his Rachel creation.

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  20. I love your post ~ I've been in a discussion of what makes a quilt modern lately and my guild was asking the same question. I've been saying 'it's modern if I say it is' and 'who cares anyway'. Got really caught up in the whole modern thing and wouldn't even share what I've been making because it wasn't 'modern' enough. Silly of me, I know.
    Thanks for addressing this question. I feel lots better!

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    1. Glad this post is helpful, Elsa. At QuiltCon I felt for the first time what it's like to have someone take away a label you would have claimed for yourself. I did not realize how hurtful and disorienting that would be. I hope it's something we can all work out how to avoid in the future. I realize that organizations really do have to describe themselves, and that often that will cause lines to be drawn. But, hopefully, that happens only when really necessary.

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  21. To echo the sentiments of everyone else - beautifully said! You nailed it, Rachel!

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  22. Thanks for this. I've been watching some of my favorite bloggers question their (amazing) style which caused me to question my own style. But in the end, I'm making things I love. I'll never be a trail blazer, but I'm pretty good at following :).

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  23. Lovely dialogue, I would agree..... Ps I think I saw you from a distance at QuiltCon, which brought a smile to my face.... To see a blog person I read. :)

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  24. Well said, like a true innovator. Thanks for the update on your perspective of Quilt Con. For many of us in the more remote rural areas of the world, we see only what is posted on blogs. Its lovely to see even a few shots of these events.

    Thanks again Rachel!

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  25. Wonderful post, Rachel. We each have out own divine creative spark, and whether or not the art/work that emerges from that fits within the boundaries of a particular movement or label is as much a matter of chance as of choice.

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  26. I think for me one of the reasons that I like the term "Modern" is because I never really felt like I fit into the quilt world. For me modern is a feeling more than aesthetic.

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  27. Did you happen to hear the Mary Fons leacture at QuiltCon (it's also on Craftsy)? I love what she said about embracing the old and the new quilter, and not seeing one as superior. It's all about a love of making! Love your thoughts here.

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    1. I didn't hear it. Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed the lectures quite a lot and would definitely do more of those next time.

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  28. Thanks for these thoughts. I thought when I was coming home that I wouldn't want to work on my plain triangle quilt up on my design wall, but the reality is I just like to make and play with fabrics.

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  29. I've been thinking a lot about how the post-modern term could apply, and it definitely relates to our desire for authenticity and story in the quilts that we love. But I think there's also true beauty and value in rewarding those that create that. I can't place a value judgment on someone else's work and say that it's not an authentic portrayal of their inner life, but they may not be creating something that tells a deeper story. We do seek approval and acceptance by others, which is why we enter things in shows that award prizes. And categories are useful for classifying and making meaning of the world around us (that's what we do with science). I haven't come to any conclusions yet, but I think it's important that the dialog continues.

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    1. Thank-you for adding to the discussion, Megan. Nothing is ever simple, is it? Appreciate your thoughts!

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