As a follow up to yesterday’s mini-manifesto I think I need to add one more thing, one clarification that I woke up worrying about:
I think the modern quilting movement (I do believe it is a movement of sorts) matters. I think it does have something significant to say and add to the quilting tradition, but it is only a framework, an architecture for understanding something that is going on. It really does not matter if any particular quilt or quilter is modern (except perhaps to our egos). In this sense it is like statistics: Just because half the world is younger than I am it doesn’t meant that one of the two people I talking to (hypothetically) has to be younger than I am.
You see, the details of life and making are what is real; those are the things that matter. It is all a massive and insane confluence of tiny events; this is as true for a career as it is for any particular quilt. Each quilt is made up of a million choices made for a million reasons, and as such every single quilt matters. It does not, in the big scheme of things, matter if it is modern or traditional or hybrid or none of the above. Every single quilt matters and we need to revel in that. We need to revel in the absurdity that is our lives and the fact that we take the time to make these things (Kim wins at this, hands down).
At the same time I think we need to talk about these things, to understand them more deeply, to pay proper curtosy to these extraordinary objects, and that is where the framework comes in. We need words and ideas that guide us and aid us through our understanding, that help us put these quilts into context. If you’ve talked to me for more than two minutes you will know that I think context is everything, and when we strip quilts of their proper context (i.e. call something ancient modern just because we think it “looks modernish”) we are doing the quilts and ourselves a disservice, we are getting sucked into the imperialism of hindsight.
And the same thing happens with the things we do now. When we use a term to placate our egos or because it seems like the thing to do we ignore the reality of our own practice; we strip ourselves our profoundly genuine stories. We reduce ourselves to generics, copies of a style or a movement that was never meant to be copied. The framework is never the thing, but that does not mean that the framework is not important. I am seriously invested in the idea and discussion of modern quilting, the questions surrounding why quilting indeed matters now, but that should never be confused with the simple yet profound question of what to make today, and why.