“May you live in interesting times.”
– An old Chinese curse
What is it about making art and taking a stand that goes hand in hand? Lately, we’ve been seeing a resurgence of social awareness, personal politics, and activism in the fiber arts.
Controversial topics in art are nothing new: from the depictions of the horrors of war in Picasso’s “Guernica” to the subversive graffiti of Banksy, modern artists have frequently broached difficult subjects … and quilt artists are no strangers to this movement. Often, the juxtaposition of the public’s idea of a quilt—something soft and warm, made for comfort and beauty—and the artist’s rendition of a difficult topic (such as racial profiling or domestic violence) seem too divergent to make sense. But to the artists who feel deeply about their subject matter and who work diligently to express their point of view with fabric and thread, these quilts are pivotal to their bodies of work.
This issue of Quilting Arts Magazine is being produced at a time of worldwide social and political upheaval. And artists—from the art quilt arena and beyond—are responding. I hope that by including some of their art and learning more about what compelled them to make these pieces, it will help move the conversation along. From the gallery of quilts, “HERstory” to the profile of artist Chawne Kimber you’ll find the very best of what art can offer: beauty, inspiration, truth, raw emotion, and controversy.
Understanding the “why” of art often informs the viewer’s response. Why a quilt was made, how its creation moved the artist, and ultimately its effect on the public, is all part of the conversation. As the old Chinese curse predicted, we do live in “interesting times” and that is reflected in our art.