Sunday, May 25, 2014

On Style

Second post of the day! Funny how drafts don't publish themselves.

  I’m not a modern quilter.

 A shock I’m sure.

I like bright colours, new ways of putting things together, negative space and lots of other elements that are typically associated with modern quilting.

But of the many contrary things about me is the fact that I don’t like labels but also that while I like wild and crazy, I like wild and crazy inside a defined boundary or calm that is allowed to spill out, not as big on either being fully one thing, so I’m neither traditional or modern, I’m just a quilter.  

My style is something along the lines of twisted traditional or complicated simplicity but even that really doesn’t describe anything.

 And I have to wonder why this industry, and really any creative community, feels the need to define, refine, categorize and analysis and judge the always fluid concept of style. I understand it at an academic level, it is easier when the body of work is so large to narrow the focus, and I understand it psychologically, we all want to feel unique, different but not so different that others don’t share our esthetic/worldview.

I understand it, but I don’t get it. Why is everyone so closed to the notion that there is far more that we share then differentiates?

Where is the issue with allowing everyone to be an expert in their own craft, and celebrating that fact?

Why do we need more to separate us? Is our sense of self so fragile and weak that anything that challenges what works for us as being “THE WAY IT IS DONE”, elicits a defensive aggression to tear what works for others apart?

And why do we want to see that which binds us fray and separate? We’re quilters. We cut up fabric and sew it back together again. We make things for the joy of it, to give, to keep warm, to connect. What the hell does it matter what style we use?

I hate it but the Quilt Police are real, they are out there waiting to judge. We give them power every time we judge another’s work as “other”, and the jail is where our creative impulses go after learning to fear their judgement, and our cells are the “movement” or “style” which we attach ourselves to when we start to label ourselves, because those labels exclude far more then they describe and subconsciously we shrink our potential because we want to belong.

Find your voice for the sole reason that it is YOURS. And that is awesome. You have something amazing and I desperately hope that you will find the courage to share it with yourself if no one else and don’t allow any intimidation to stop you from seeing your own greatness in at least trying.


Jackie's Stitches said...

Very well said. I've never understood the lack of acceptance between modern and tradional quilters. Frankly I like both!

Lucky Duck Dreams said...


Carolyn said...

Love this! I consider myself traditional with a twist, too. I love all quilts and can appreciate the work that goes into them. When I decided I don't care what others think is when I think I found my quilt voice :).

Anonymous said...

Well said! the more I delve into this craft, learn new techniques and explore new styles or discover old styles, the modern or traditional terms seem to blur... and I like it!

Elaine said...

Yes, yes, yes!

I'm right there with you-- love it all and celebrate it all and I'm carving out my own niche that cannot be defined with a single word. ....unless that word is "eclectic." :) I wish this craft weren't so divisive sometimes. Most times. All the time. We have more in common than we don't and so much to learn from each other.

Lorna McMahon said...

Very well written post, Cara. I was just telling my readers I would be going to me first meeting with the London Modern Quilt Guild this Saturday, and one of them mentioned you were from London. I don't think I need a label either... But I am looking forward to meeting with others who love quilting. Do you have a group of quilters you like to meet with?

Karee said...

I have been wondering how you are doing. I hope you are having a summer of simple joys: clear skies, flower blossoms, cool morning walks, and a lot of peaceful thoughts.