The Narcissism of Small Differences

 This is what I'm working on.. Flying Geese. I figured out how to make wonky geese- fast, accurate and Im pretty pleased with it... Its the Elenor Burns method of  2 squares and then I hand trim. Pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. There is no waste of the red/blue so I can use my OOP and be kinda improvy ... Im soo thrilled...
This weekend I went to  Sew Expo. It was a visit in the way back time machine. This morning I woke to a mail about the Spring Crafty Wonderland Coming soon. ... ahh much better.  Some ladies from the guild went and we had a nice visit Friday Night. We frequently talk about What Modern Means, our own artistic endeavors, fabric shopping on I-5 etc etc...
I've been thinking a lot about the Modern Quilt Movement. Its been explained to me and a few of my friends that we are not MODERN. We don't meet the criteria, I've been told more than once I was traditional,  Kaci has been informed she is Contemperary and others have told me similar stories. 
Then I stumbled on the phrase "The Narcissism of Small Differences". *angels singing* HA! There is an actual term for this weird hostility.
God I love Google!
I had no idea I had been participating in and being judged by a concept that punishes me for not conforming to non conformity.
I like being a quilter. I like speaking with and having a conversation with the past. I like knowing my craft and working on my craftsmanship. I feel like we as quilters are in a place with quilting that is much like the  turn of the last century was with painting...
Before Photography, making accurate, realistic painted renderings of things was the way to paint. But after Photos and Moving Pictures trained the eye to see movement, scale and modeling... well, Painted Pictures looked like a waste of time... So painting changed, less representation and more reinterpretation.
More emotion, more design, more speaking volumes with line weight, movement of color and a nice nod to tradition.
At the same time, learning the craft of Painting has remained relatively unchanged. Few artists don't own a copy of the 15th century manual  The Craftman's Handbook.  Craft is what connects us to the past,  even if we dont grind our own Azure.
History and "connectedness" is what makes me weep to look at Picasso's "The Lovers" and really see the love, tenderness and sex. or Kandinsky's compositions. ...
As quilters we are 30 years past the invention of the rotary cutter. A good machine can sew a quarter of an inch with a person not really holding the fabric at all. Exacting, fine, perfect points are relatively easy and just a matter of focus.
Back in the day, a nice flat quilt top was hard to do, cutting the pieces wasn't nearly as accurate and sewing by hand or machine difficult. 
When I look at where my work is moving I wonder.. Is less More?Or is it a Bore?  Am I  dissecting line, contrast and structure or making a mess? Is it handmade or homemade?   Is it Art? or Process?
I'm not sure there is an easy answer.
When I make quilts that meet the definition of Modern Quilting, I sometimes feel like I'm pulling a stunt. gimmick. Maybe recipe would be a less negative word. I dont feel creative, I feel like I'm putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Snoozeville. Pablum. The artistic equivalent of a coloring book. Conforming in the ugliest sense of the word.
I like making Quilts. I'm developing a Voice.  An artistic expression of my womanhood and femininity in cloth. Does it matter to me that I'm being told I'm not Modern? I'm not sure yet. In some ways its been a huge blessing: I got my feelings hurt, I got pissed(so I guess It did matter) , and then I got to work. Having an Arts Background, growing up with working artists,  I have had enough training to hold my own at a serious Critique.  Lately, I've been excited about my quilting and can really feel myself moving forward.

Does it mean I haven't found a home in the Modern Quilt Guild? Heck No! I love it.  I get great input on my projects and have found some great quilty/artist friends. But I'm sticking with my prints and freehand frame quilting that references the past.... Hey, maybe I'm PostModern... Is there a Guild for that? :)

Quilters Rock!


Pétra said...

I like your post modern idea but i feel that you are a modern quilter especially in your approach to quilting which is not traditional. Can't wait to hear more about Sew Expo.

MareMare said...

Thank you for sharing! I still don't really get what modern quilting is or is supposed to be. I saw something on either the MQG blog or FB page about having to use all solids to be modern...if that's true I don't want to be modern. I just want my prints!

anotheryarn said...

I like how you summed it up.

My goal is to not worry about what style I'm quilting in and just make stuff. I like making stuff, who cares what hole my peg fits in...

jmb_craftypickle said...

This post is-- awesome. We talk about this regularly at our guild meetings, I get so bored about it--People always ask me "what is Modern quilting?" and I just don't want to answer, I think that with the movement wanting to be more commercial, they have to make the label more narrow and defined. Oh well, I will just have to go post-modern. Doesn't everyone know that "it has all been done before?!" I like to go with the thought "Life-Modern quilting- is a party and everyone is invited!"
Quilters ROCK!

redkaci said...

well said Rach.

I thought modern = progress, freedom, interpretation and traditional = boundaries, rules, pattern copying.

I don't really understand that it is so critical to make these definitions.

But then, I'm just a contemporary quilter and I don't belong in the modern group. HAHAHA Although really, I like to make quilts in ALL categories.

Peppermint Pinwheels said...

I'm right there with jmbmommy, totally bored with the whole conversation! This post is by far the best definition to me of what I think the Modern quilt movement is all about.

Miss Jamee Quilts said...

i m with anotheryarn! I just like to make happy quilts!

tisha @ quiltytherapy said...

I'm sorry that you have had such a negative experience with "Modern". Honestly in the Indy Modern guild we don't judge, open to everyone, and WANT to support others. We have sewists that run the spectrum of quilting, techniques, etc.

I felt more left out in a traditional guild. My points weren't perfect or gasp I didn't follow a specific patter. Better yet, all my blocks weren't the same size.

Modern is what you make it.

Either way, we should all support each other and respect that we all sew, take the time and effort to create art, and share with the world.

Jennifer said...

The title of your post caught my eye as I was catching up on my reader. You could not be more right! Good for you for sticking to your roots while still creating.

I'm sorry you had that experience at all... it doesn't make sense that we can't just all create without being judged. Your work is beautiful!

And BTW, I love the term post-modern!

Jennifer :)