Thursday, January 5, 2006

Art Quilts

art 1 (?rt) (from Houghton Mifflin online dictionary)
NOUN: Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature.

The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium.

It is very interesting to me that this definition of art contains the word "imitate" and does not use the word "original".

For me the term "artist" is not a positive one. I find many folks who define themselves as artists do so in order to thumb their self-important noses at the great-unwashed, as if being an artist means that the box labeled "the rules don't apply to me" is checked on their birth certificate. And then these very same people decry that the world just doesn't understand them, and oh! the pain of the rejection. Geesh, get over yourself, would you?

In my universe (and that would be why I have a blog), art is not the product but the process. Art is not paint or clay or fabric. Art is seeing possibilities where others don't. It can be the manipulation of numbers in science, a turn of a phrase, an elegant assembly line. Art is doing my job to the very best of my ability, whether I'm filing taxes or doing a manicure or pouring bronze into a mold.

As an unapologetically pattern designer my art is in the words. I strive to create appealing designs, yes, but more important to me is the information I can pack into a pattern. As quilters follow my directions they find more than a simple recipe. I slip in technique, humor and even philosophy. It is my life's work and I strive to do it better every day.

Are the quilters who follow my directions artists? I think yes because for me it's all about the process of discovery and doing. No matter what we do, we are following directions, quilt artists just prefer to see themselves as farther away from the directions than others. Even if they are not following a pattern they are still using technique that someone else taught them, design theory that some one else defined, materials that someone else developed.

Am I an artist? If you must. My media are fabric and words. Are you an artist? Go do it.