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2QAQ: What is an Art Quilt?

What is an Art Quilt???
From Lajla Nystad,the current Curator of State of the Art exhibition.
On display is SotA17 – it’ll be at the Redlands Quilt Extravaganza. Each year we ask and hope that some of you will decide to enter one of your art quilts and have the great experience of seeing your work in an Art Gallery. It’s great to see that we do have first time entrants each year. I’m going to run through a little of the history of SotA.
In 2007, the President of 2Q, Kate Oszko, noted that Qld Quilters Inc was not supporting art quilters and suggested the formation of a group to do so, should there be anyone interested in forming such a group. Sue Dennis stepped up and with the help of 4 or 5 others formulated the plan for 2QAQ. One of the priorities of the new 2QAQ group was to raise the level of professionalism in art quilting by creating a prestigious, juried exhibition, open to all QQ members, and thus SotAq had its first exhibition in 2009.
The exhibition has toured throughout South-East Qld – galleries in Childers, Boonah, Crows Nest, Warwick, Chinchilla, Gatton have all exhibited Qld Quilters’ work. It’s also been displayed at Australasian Quilt Convention, Melbourne, the now defunct Textile Art Festival, Brisbane and some works went to Alaska one year in an exchange with Art Quilters there. 2018 will see the 10th Exhibition of SotA – something that Qld Quilters’ membership can be proud of.
This year’s exhibition will be travelling to Miles in south-west Qld in January, a new venue and one gallery that supports textile art. We are constantly looking at galleries, applying to have our exhibition hung and hope that the current director of that Gallery may embrace our art form.
From Chris Jones, 2QAQ Coordinator: What is an Art Quilt?
How do you define an Art Quilt? I have consulted a few different oracles & this is what I’ve come up with –

  • Wikipedia (the font of all knowledge) says:
    “ Quilt Art, sometimes known as art quilting, mixed media art quilts or fibre art quilts, is an art form that uses both modern and traditional quilting techniques to create art objects. Practitioners of quilt art create it based on their experiences, imagery and ideas rather than traditional patterns.”
  • The Art Quilt Association (USA) defines it as: “An art quilt is an original exploration of a concept or idea rather than handing down of a “pattern”. It experiments with textile manipulation, colour, texture and/or a diversity of mixed media. An Art Quilt often pushes quilt world boundaries”.
  • Studio Art Quilt Associates Inc (SAQA) is an international organisation with 3,400+ membership. They define an art quilt as “a creative work that is layered and stitched or references this form of stitched layered structure.”
    State of the Art Quilt Conditions of Entry define an Art Quilt for our exhibition as: “a fibre or mixed media piece of 2 layers or more held together in some way. The finished piece needs to be identifiable as a quilt”.
    So, you can see, there is not just one definition.

The maker defines whether it’s an Art Quilt – as long as the criteria for the ‘competition’ are met. Like all art – the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. How many times have you gone to an Art Gallery & wondered “how they could possibly class THAT as art!”
Art Quilts cover all aspects – landscapes, portraiture, graphic, abstract, modernist etc etc etc. You can use traditional piecing, blocks with your take on the tradition. Some modern quilts are a really good example of genres crossing the boundaries.
Like any quilt show or competition or juried exhibition, the conditions of entry must be taken in to account when you enter your piece. SotA’s definition has been kept relatively simple. There are size limits, no theme and it must be solely one artist’s work. The Juror has a very important role in the process as you’ve heard (will hear) from Sue.
When I entered the world of art quilting – and I have no art experience whatsoever – I went to the 2Q Library, found books on art quilts, looked through magazines and defined my own idea of what an art quilt was. Today it’s so easy to find inspiration and ideas – just ‘google’ your theme, idea, a word, art quilts & you’ll be spoilt for choice. I went along to 2QAQ meetings, watched, participated and learned and I took a chance and entered SoTA in 2009 and was absolutely over the moon to be selected for the very first exhibition. I have suffered rejection since – a couple of times – & in case, you’re wondering, the counselling is going really well!
Come along to a 2QAQ meeting and you’ll be surprised at what you’ll learn. I’ve heard comments that coming to these meetings has even helped in the planning of traditional quilts. We are so fortunate in Qld Quilters to have available to the membership – a wonderful choice of magazines and books catering to all tastes and even more importantly – our special interest groups where we can learn so much more about our art. I’d encourage anyone who makes an art quilt – to enter SotA, 2Q Show – art section (of course), national & international competitions – you never know where it will lead you on your quilting journey.

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