Two weeks ago I went to Pasadena for QuiltCon, an exhibition of quilts, a convention of quilters and vendors, workshops and lectures, attended by both experts and novices. I was the novice going with my friend the expert quilter who could open her own gallery if she chose. There were hundreds of quilts on display, many done in response to a challenge from the Modern Quilt Guild. I don’t know the exact parameters of the contest but I understand that contributors were given a palette of Michael Miller fabrics and individuals as well as groups could participate. Here are some of the entries to the MQG contest:
Besides the Charity Quilt Contest there were many, many more quilts (that I took pictures of) in all kinds of categories: Minimalist, Modern Traditional, Piecing, Handwork, Applique, Use of Negative Space, Improvisation, and more. They were fascinating and sometimes inspiring. Some were so far beyond my skill set and patience that I couldn’t imagine even wanting to do them.
But the most encouraging thing was the lectures we went to: “Art History and the Modern Quilter” by Casey York, “Great American Quilt Revival” by Mary Fons, “Creativity and Play” by Victoria Findlay Wolfe, and “Liberated Quiltmaking: It’s About Making It YOUR Way” by Gwen Marston. These four guest speakers are well known in the publishing end of this craft besides being well respected and loved by their protégées. They have been the movers and shakers in the resurgence of quilting in our generation. Hearing them speak was quite stirring as well as mind-opening to the possibilities of quilting as Art.
I was trying to explain what I had learned to my son at dinner after I’d come home. It’s not about the old traditional patterns anymore, the Wedding Ring and the Bow Tie or Geese Flying, I said. You don’t have to match corners perfectly and repeat the pattern 50 times. In fact, if you mess up the corner you just cut it off and put it in a different way. You can make it up as you go. It’s FREE. You don’t have to follow the rules anymore. You can take an old idea and tweak it to fit your inspiration. The important thing is to do it and have fun with it. And my son noted right away that the cultural revolution had overturned his Granny’s quilts.
I came home with a head full of ideas and a suitcase full of fabric and a spirit full of optimism from having been given “permission” to play with my ideas and quilt with freedom. I am working on an idea right now and it excites me. I hope I see it through to completion.