The second annual QuiltCon wrapped up at the end of February, and I’ve been looking at photos of the modern quilts exhibited there. Hmmm, I can see certain tropes being codified as “modern.” Plus and multiplication sign quilts, anyone?
Look over some of these links to photos of quilts exhibited, and make up your own mind. Here are photos of the winning quilts.
i Quilt by Kathy York won Best in Show. I think it’s a cute idea, but nothing technically challenging. At first I thought the i’s were birthday cake candles.
The Plaid Portico blog is performing a great service by showing lots of the quilts, especially the details. Here’s a post of some of the charity quilts exhibited. And here’s the second post on the charity quilts. Yet another post features quilts in the modern traditionalism category. The latest posts feature the quilts in the improvisation category(part 1) and (part 2.) I believe there’s more photos to come.
In the quilts assigned by the judges to the modern traditionalism category I saw great reworkings of blocks such as kaleidoscope, LeMoyne Star, flying geese, and pineapple. However, I’m mystified by the judge’s ribbon choices, especially the first place quilt. I find it a jumble with no focal point and no fabulous quilting.
I’ve spent some time with the improvisation quilt photos. I like Sunburst Quilt by Tara Faughnan, Fade Into Gray by Stephanie Ruyle, and Lite Brite by Maria Shell, but I confess I’m a bit tired of the usual modern palette. Marianne Haak’s Shifting Impressions uses ombre fabrics so it’s a welcome exception. I’m taken with the quilting on Neva Asinari’s Intersection, and I give Face #1 by Melissa Averinos full props for being something completely different. Again, I find the choices of ribbon winners mystifying, though I admire the use of thread color and stitch types in the first place winner, The Rabbit Hole by Serena Brooks.
Let me take a minute to talk about the workmanship of some of the quilts exhibited. A friend who attended came back appalled at the waviness of many of the quilts. She said they buckled and billowed. Another blogger talked about the quilting birds nests on the back of the best in show quilt.
Why am I being so picky? Because this was a national juried show. Many quilters had their work rejected. (I didn’t enter so this isn’t sour grapes.) I realize you can’t judge workmanship well from photos, but closeups should reveal glaring issues. Of course, I haven’t seen the judges’ criteria, but surely they can’t be too different from those used for traditional quilts.
I recall seeing some of these problems in a modern quilt exhibit at the 2013 International Quilt Festival. My thought at the time was that experience would smooth out such issues. I guess not. Or maybe the early modern quilters have learned, but relative newcomers are still learning.
In the photos of the different guild charity quilts I noticed that many had complex free motion quilting designs. Some just didn’t suit the quilt or were somewhat clunky. I applaud the willingness of modern quilters to jump into free motion quilting, a no go area for many traditional quilters, but I think it wise to keep it simple and looking good. Of course, the underlying thought may have been “it’s for charity so why not experiment.”
If you attended QuiltCon or have spent time looking at photos of the quilts let me know your thoughts. Am I off base here?