August 11, 2015

The Art of Sleeping (I)

Okay, we’re all friends at this point; time to talk a bit about quilting.

Still here? Great. This is one of my favorite art forms, and one that I think gets underplayed to a tragic extent. Because we spend a lot of our lives sleeping, you know? I do, at least. It is the single luxury I can afford. What does this have to do with quilts? Well, I think quilts have made a lot of headway as an art form. I’m sure there are people sick to death of Art vs. Craft who are rolling their eyes right now. But the problem, as I see it, is that in order for a quilt to be “art,” it has to go up on a wall. Which makes it…not a quilt anymore. More like a tapestry, or a banner, or really, just an unstretched painting.

And there is something cool about the idea of a quilt as an unstretched painting–this piece (far left) that was a collaborative effort between myself and artist Addie Langford really opened my mind about what a quilt can be and what it’s doing:



However, it saddens me that in order to become “art,” a quilt must sacrifice its utility. Because in the same way that surrounding ourselves with visual art informs and enhances our reality, I submit that sleeping under a work of art perhaps enhances our subconscious reality. Quilts hold history. They literally repurpose the fragments of cloth that we have held closest, at times–and clothing has the extraordinary capacity to adjust and reflect our bodies, even when we are absent (anyone who has held onto a shirt from a departed or deceased loved one, for the smell, knows what I mean). They tell stories–they are a form of remembering, either literally or figuratively. They create a secure environment. It is worth investing in a quilt made with love, and then using it.

For example, this commission piece, that a woman hired me to make for her friend, out of her friend’s collection of original Ramones concert t-shirts. These were accumulated over decades of Ramones super-fandom, and worn to the brink of fiber exhaustion. And, you know, life changes, and less of your social occasions call for a dilapidated Ramones t-shirts (it’s dispiriting for me, too). So how to you keep these things, so precious to you (not to mention empircally valuable–in the far-off and ridiculous land of Williamsburg, any one of these shirts would go for, like, hundreds of dollars)?


Like that, is how.

Anyway, more to come on this subject, as I work my way through a piece that will be a part of Culture Lab in the fall at nora, a high-end design store in Detroit. I was honored to be asked to join, and even more honored once I saw the other participants cc’d in a recent organizational email. Some of my favorite local artists and craftspeople, including Andy Malone, Eitan Sussman, Lynne Avadenka, Thing Thing, Kate Daughdrill–not to mention my quilting buddy Addie! Best believe I will be inundating you with more info on that, as materials develop.

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