Inspired by the work featured in Masters Art Quilts, Vol. 2? We are too! We asked juror Martha Sielman a few questions about her approach to and vision for this stunning collection.
Was your approach to Volume 2 different than that for Volume 1? How so?
The approach was similar for both volumes. I searched for artists whose work was visually compelling, work that had something new to say each time I looked at it. I tried to balance where the artists were from, so while half live all across the United States, the other half are from countries around the world: Australia, Korea, Japan, U.K., France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, Russia, Italy, Israel, Canada, and South Africa. I also wanted to have a mix of styles and palettes, so that there would be work that would appeal to every taste. Finally, I tried to have a mix between artists who have been producing fiber art for more than 30 years with artists who have recently found this wonderful art quilt medium. While many of the artists show their work frequently in art quilt circles, others may not be as familiar to readers. If every reader discovers at least one artist in the book with whose work they were previously unfamiliar, then I’m satisfied that I’ve found a good mix of artists.
How do the Volumes complement each other?
When we were planning for Volume 1, I did a lot of research looking through catalogs of major exhibits, searching through online websites, and asking for recommendations from others. I came up with a list of more than 200 artists whose work could be included. Between the two volumes, we’ve only shown 80 artists from that list.
Is there anyone in the collection that you’re particularly excited about?
I’m excited about all of them; otherwise they wouldn’t be included. I cannot wait to see the works in person when we open the complementary exhibition “Masters 2″ at the International Quilt Festival in Houston from November 3-6, 2011. It’s always a thrill to see the art up close and personal. No matter how good the digital images are, seeing the work in person shows you things that you didn’t see before, especially in the details of the quilting and stitching. “Masters 2″ is scheduled to travel to the International Quilt Festivals in Cincinnati (April 2012) and Long Beach (July 2012), before traveling to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, U.K. (August 2012) and the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts (January – April 2013). We are planning to have it travel to other locations and are talking to several additional venues.
Are there any personal stories from the artists that you find inspiring?
One of the common themes that came out of my research into the working methods of all the artists was their dedication to their art. Any work in fiber requires time – huge amounts of time are needed to prepare the fabrics, design the piece, assemble the piece, and finish the piece. Each step requires myriad artistic decisions. Each part of the process necessitates the artist’s full concentration. It’s hard work. These artists love what they are doing, but it often takes everything they’ve got. They live, work, and breathe their art. That’s inspiring!
What innovative or signature techniques do you find most striking in the collection?
One of the things which I’ve noticed in comparing Volumes 1 and 2 is that there are groups of artists in each book working in a somewhat similar style. So, in the first Volume there were several artists (Susan Shie, Pamela Allen, Therese May, Jane Burch Cochran, Terrie Hancock Mangat) whose signature styles seem to included a belief in the maxim “More is More” and who seem to revel in embellishment. At the same time, there was a group of artists who worked in a very neutral palette and explored decay and loss (Jette Clover, Linda Colsh, Anne Worringer, Clare Plug).
In Volume 2, there are fewer heavily embellished pieces. However there are several artists who include a tremendous amount of hand stitching (Pamela Fitzsimmons, Dorothy Caldwell, Anna Torma, Emily Richardson). There are also several artists whose work is based on a rainbow of clear, pure color (Reiko Naganuma, Maryline Collioud-Robert, Paula Nadelstern, Nelda Warkentin, Tim Harding). There is a large group whose work is figurative (Carolyn Crump, Genevieve Attinger, Leslie Gabrielse, Alice Beasley, Izabella Baykova, Linda MacDonald, Jim Smoote). And there is a group of artists who are very concerned about the environment (Karin Franzen, Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade, Shulamit Liss, Jane Dunnewold, Arturo Alonzo Sandoval, Margery Goodall, Rachel Brumer, Dorothy Caldwell).
Working on these two volumes has been a wonderful and enriching experience. I feel privileged to have been able to study the work of these artists in depth. Thank you to everyone involved in seeing these books through to completion.