Friday, May 7, 2010

Women’s Work

The attraction to all things textiles is a strong one for me. Long before I trained as a textile artist and fashion designer, I sewed, knit, quilted, embroidered, and crocheted. (My parents refused to support my clothing "habit", so I started sewing my own at age 13.) Long after my training and a career switch out of designing, I remain a serial knitter, and a lover of fiber work. I also love the community that often forms among women who work with their hands in the multi-media of fiber. These communities have American traditions of quilting bees, sewing circles, knitting store gatherings, this decade’s Stitch ‘n Bitch groups, and most recently Knitta, an activist group which embellishes public structures with knitted cozies.

When looking through work at Artful Home, which I’m lucky enough to have to do as part of my work, I was struck by some commonalities in work – by women artists – referencing Amish quilts.

Amish quilts seem to strike a chord in so many people. For me, the idea of women whose lifestyle demands sobriety creating quilts which reek of exuberance is as compelling a part of the attraction to these quilts as is their dazzling beauty. To create these quilts requires a willingness to “color outside the lines” while maintaining a semblance of order. (Hmm - kind of like the approach of the quilters from Gee's Bend, Alabama.) So when I see these Amish quilts, as I did recently at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco, I see communities of women, united in purpose, following their own rules, creating things of beauty – their way. Women's work, indeed!

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