Sometimes It Really Is Coincidence

The line between inspired by and copied from is often blurry in quilt design. It can lead to pronouncements about seeking permission that stir controversy, like the Modern Quilt Guild’s statement. That statement is now posted as “for historical reference only” after an Internet firestorm.

Yet, sometimes similar ideas occur to different people at roughly the same time with no cause and effect relationship. That happened with my “The Language of Pink Elephants.” It was inspired by a very different piece I made of a modern drunkards path design.


I was surprised when I saw the following piece on Paula Kovarik’s blog. She calls hers “Incoming,” but it has the same pink and black color scheme and the same connecting type of quilting in light colored thread as my piece.

incomingpaulakovarik2016Hers reminds me of Paul Klee’s work. It’s certainly more angular than mine and has more piecing. The pink on mine is sewn down bias strips. I like the bits of gold and yellow to temper all the pink, and the whimsy in Paula’s work.

Oh, one other minor difference – “Incoming” is being shown in a major art quilt exhibit.



Filed under Art quilts, Commentary

13 responses to “Sometimes It Really Is Coincidence

  1. Patricia

    Your quilt reminds me of the boomerang Formica pattern from the 50s. I’ve always liked it.

  2. I have sent many packages of vintage bias tape to Joe Cunningham. I would say the use of the tape is where the similarities end. I love the black back ground on your piece, is it fabric you dyed?

  3. sandy

    That is what happens when the history of an art stretches out over centuries. Similar, but not the same. All art starts with an inspiration. I know sometimes I will see something that inspires me, but after my work is completed, cannot for the life of me remember where I saw the inspiration or I may not even be aware that I was being inspired. It’s not intentional copying of anothers work.

    I know that when I’m working on an “original” idea, I’m not often thinking that this quilt will be seen by the world beyond my house and immediate family. So it would be a surprise to me if my work suddenly was compared to others.

    BTW, beautiful pink and black quilts. Hmmmmm, that starts me to imagining. LOL 🙂

    • One of the joys of creative activity is being inspired by others. I’m trying to look at non quilted art to get a different perspective. In my master class our November assignment is to design a quilt from one of three photos supplied by the teacher. It’s interesting to see how each student takes inspiration from the same photo. Glad you enjoyed the black and pink quilts.

  4. Wow, thoughts. Oh, on the quilts? They are both lovely and yes have similar elements, and they would complement each other if shown together. And yes, similar works can arise coincidentally at the same time.

    THanks for showing both together.

    • I’m sure Paula will go along with the joint exhibit idea – ha! I’ve become a bit obsessed with the notion of coincidence in art as there’s been recent controversy about inspiration sources. I understand that some pieces at the recent Houston show were copies or homages to the works of others. Thanks for the kind words about Elephants

  5. Charlotte Mullen

    If you look at Joe Cuningham he uses bias tape in a very similar manner also. Is there really any NEW ideas or are we just repeating similar designs?

    • I suppose you could say that almost all western art repeats similar designs. I’m not familiar enough with Joe Cunningham’s work to recall his use of bias tape. I used it because I wanted curved lines and I’ve been using it in my volunteer work with making costumes for a community theater. Coincidence again, perhaps?

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