Respect and the Art Quilt

After viewing pieces included in the Akron Art Prize venues, The Snarky Quilter posed this question on her blog:  “Do quilts still get no respect in the art world?”

Here are my thoughts… First, I would say quilts get less respect rather than no respect. I think that it actually is the word “quilt” that makes it hard for quilts, specifically art quilts, to be accepted in the art world. “Quilt” still causes most people to think “bed” rather than “wall” and “utility” rather than “art.”

Maybe it is that I consider all quilts to be art, but only some of the makers call themselves artists. Is it that there is an art quilt world and an art world and they are too far apart? Does respect come when collectors/buyers display art quilts on their home and office walls, “legitimizing” them as art?

Nowadays vintage quilts that were made for the bed are being recognized as art, collectors are displaying quilts on their walls, and there are museums dedicated to quilts; in my home city we have one specifically representing contemporary art quilts (Visions Art Museum). However, this doesn’t mean quilts are entirely respected in the art world.

I have had “Art Quilt” submissions re-categorized as “Mixed Media” or “Fiber Art” and I believe it is because the word quilt, for some people draws a line between craft and art — especially fine art — with “quilt” falling on the craft side. I won’t even get into the craft versus art versus fine art topic!

I asked a few successful art quilters three questions regarding their experiences with their quilts in the art world. They were so generous with their replies that I decided to share their insights in the next blog post, so I hope you will stay tuned. I’ll be sharing some images of their art quilts too!

What is your experience with art quilts and their reception in the art world? Please leave a comment and/or answer the questions I have posed –

1 – Have you ever submitted an art quilt (for the wall) to a venue that was featuring a variety of art work mediums?

2 – If you answered “yes,” did you (or they) categorize your piece as an Art Quilt or something else, such as Fiber Art, Mixed Media, Textile, etc.?

3 – If you answered “no” to question 1, would you consider submitting an art quilt in to a venue featuring art in a variety of mediums?

About Ann Scott

Working with fabric and fiber for over forty years. Design, instruction, and sales.
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2 Responses to Respect and the Art Quilt

  1. Shyamala Rao says:

    Here are the answers for your questions.
    1.Yes I have. I have displayed my work in International Quilt Festival in Houston and in The Festival Of Quilts Birmingham and several other venues.
    2.Yes. I (they) did categorize it as an Art Quilt. Some times if there was a subcategory of art quilt like art pictorial, I have chosen it, if my quilt was based on a photograph or a replica of an existing architecture.
    Other wise ‘Art quilt’ is an ‘Art Quilt’ for me.

    But I also had experience with some other exhibitions and theme competitions that my art quilt lost over a normal quilt in voting and commented by other quilters that ‘we liked your quilt , it was more appropriate to the theme,but as it is an art quilt , we prefer the bed quilt’.
    I agree with you that Art quilts are not getting as much respect as they should be, though they need more imagination, planning, expertise to create than a traditional bed quilt and the labour process is equally intense as much as creating a traditional quilt.

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