Sunday, January 15, 2023

Weekend Review: Art Quilts Unfolding


Art Quilts Unfolding: 50 Years of Innovation
Edited by Sandra Sider. Written by Nancy Bavor, Lisa Ellis, and Martha Sielman
Atglen, PA: Schiffer, c2018.
351 p.

It's a new year, and I'm back with some more book reviews! Today's pick is one that I've been poring over and enjoying over the last couple of weeks. This large and lengthy tome is an overview of the field of art quilting from the 60s to recent years. It's produced by SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) -- this group is one of the top in this subject, with tons of resources for members and lots of exhibitions going at all times. 

This book delivers on the promise of the title. It's broken up by decade, from the 60s to the 2010s. Each chapter talks about the state of art quilting and its development in that decade, has a short piece about or by a museum, collector, or organization that was important at that point, and then, of course, the highlight -- there are a bunch of art quilts shown by a wide variety of artists, all in full colour. It's wonderful to see the styles and techniques, and there is such a wide range that you are sure to find some to interest you. There are also a few deeper artist profiles in the chapters as well, for some of the biggest names in the field. 

Because of the size of the book and the range they're covering, the text is by necessity limited. The essays can't each be 10 pages long. However, it provides a great overview for anyone interested in this aspect of the art quilt world, and also lays out numerous artists, organizations, and publications to look into further (this could take you a while!) It's a wonderful survey course for the reader new to this world. 

And it's inspiring for an aspiring art quilter, when you see the huge range of styles, sizes, techniques, themes and so on. There really is room for everyone's art. That said, most of the artists shown are from the USA -- that is where SAQA is based. There are a few from elsewhere -- Canada, Japan, and Denmark for example, and a few other locations sprinkled in too. It's intriguing to see how each artist's background, ie: did they come from fine arts to art quilts, or home sewing to art quilts, shapes the way they create their work. Definitely one that you can look through over and over, and learn a lot along the way. 

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