Friday, May 04, 2007

Quilt Related Books

When I was at the Folk Art Museum some weeks ago I purchased UNCOMMON THREADS, Ohio's Art Quilt Revolution (Gayle A.Pritchard, Ohio University Press,2006) and have only reached it in the pile of nonfiction reading I had accumulated. It is a a broad view of how it happened that Ohio was the breeding ground for the art quilt movement in America. I enjoy the comprehensive, socio-political chapters and having the quilt artists of whom I've been aware for years put into perspective. Of course I knew Nancy Crow was a force to be reckoned with, but I also had seen Terrie Hancock Mangat's work for many years. I was unaware for some reason that Susan Shie was a part of the Ohio group -- perhaps because the quilts she and her partner, Jame Acord, produce seem entirely sui generis. Among the surprises in this book is that Susan Shie's grandmother who taught her to sew was a Mennonite seamstress -- what a shock Susan's kitchen goddesses and other pagan figures would be to that prim lady in a picture in this book!

At this point I am trying to purchase quilt books for inforamtion and UNCOMMON THREADS is a fine example. I try not to purchase books with new techniques and shiny ideas for inspiration. At this point I have too much inspiration -- and not nearly enough time, alas!!

This book sent me to the catalog of Nancy Crow's one-woman show that I saw at the American Craft Museum in 1993 -- the catalog is a farily recent purchase-- a repint (I think) by the America Quilters Society. I remember spending a very long time in front of several of the pieces in the show, trying to soak in why simple one-patch designs were so powerful. I don't think I understood it, really. There is joy in the colors, both complexity and simplicity in the patchwork and a fascinating tactile surface creaetd by the hand quilting -- which Nancy Crow has done by certain quilters she works with. very different from one another -- they use different techniques, different color palettes, and have very diferent ways of working ... still it all grew from that fertile Ohio soil, thanks to the particular Midwestern atmosphere of the 20th century which culminated in the explosion of ideas and understanding that quilts may be many things and all of that -- and more to come -- is art.

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