Wednesday, October 14, 2015

American Art

The latest challenge invites artists to use a traditional quilting technique from their home country.  I found it difficult to find an example of a quilting technique that was uniquely “American” that I could really get excited about.  Even though quilting is very popular in the US, the well known patterns and techniques we use today were brought to this country by colonists and immigrants, and often reflect traditions from their native lands.

So I expanded my search and started looking through my old college textbooks on Art History.  The Abstract Expressionist movement was born in New York in the early 1940s. This was the first time a critically recognized art movement was identified with America rather than Europe, specifically Paris.  “Having matured as artists at a time when America suffered economically and felt culturally isolated and provincial, the Abstract Expressionists were later welcomed as the first authentically American avant-garde. Their art was championed for being emphatically American in spirit - monumental in scale, romantic in mood, and expressive of a rugged individual freedom.”


I’m especially attracted to the work of Jackson Pollock, who revolutionized the idea of painting by pouring, dripping, and flinging paint directly onto a canvas. There was no subject or context to the work other than the artist’s own gestures.  I love the tension between chance and control that Pollock’s paintings create.  He was very much connected to the painting, even though his brush never actually touched the surface of the canvas. These painting were carefully composed, not randomly thrown together. He very deliberately drew lines with the paint, often walking around on the canvas itself to add lines of various thickness in specific areas.  But at the same time he accepted the idea that the paint could take a journey of its own, between the time it left his paint can or stick and the moment it attached itself to the canvas. 

pollock   jacksonpoll 

My work is typically subject-driven, planned out and tightly controlled when it comes to cutting of the fabric and guiding the machine stitched lines.  It might be fun to loosen up the reigns just to see what happens.


  1. Great thoughts, Kate - - I didn't head this way and now, with less than two weeks, I am rethinking….

  2. LOL Go for it. Who knows what can happen when you're inspired? I've often changed direction at the last minute... a little too often in fact. Maybe I secretly like deadlines and feeling panicked.
    However, not on this one. For the first time ever, I was done early! I was so excited about this idea, I had to get right to work. Once I started, the processed moved along really quickly (which I think is fitting for the Abstract Expressionist style). I'm not sure if the end result is a good composition or not. But surprisingly, that doesn't really bother me. The process of creating this quilt has been my TOP favorite, fun experience of all the V9 challenges so far. I might have to revisit the idea again soon. :-)