It seems to be “either-or” in the art world. Either it is art-something to be framed or set upon a pedestal, or, conversely, defy being framed or set upon a pedestal; or it is not art. An object that serves a functional purpose, that has an everyday, utilitarian use, can rarely make it past that definition, and is often relegated to the category of “Craft,” or, in pricier venues, “Fine Craft.” That’s all fine by me. I quilt because I love fabric and color, and playing around with them. I love the sound of the machines and the smell of the steam from the iron, and even the sting of poking myself with a pin every now and again (it’s like a mini-jolt of coffee-hello!) If you want to frame my quilt, because that makes it look more like real art, that’s ok, although I’d rather it didn’t go behind glass. If you want to sit on it in the park for a picnic, that’s a good use for it, too, albeit a pricey one. The art of quilting stretches to embrace all those lofty elements of traditional art, as well as the tactile and emotional components of creating something warm and comforting, soothing and soft, something to wrap around a child with a cold or snuggle under on a freezing night. I don’t mean that my quilts would actually function well in that capacity, but they are connected, through medium and method, to their predecessors, to the history of quilt making, the tradition of women using their hands and imaginations to create something beautiful to protect and care for the people they love. What makes it art? All of that.
Click here to view Karen’s Art Quilt Gallery
Judaism lends itself to fiber art. There are so many ritual objects that are traditionally made from textiles: tallit (prayer shawl); kippah (skull cap); chuppah (wedding canopy); brit milah pillow (circumcision pillow); torah mantles (covers for the synagogue scrolls); mizrah (eastern wall hanging); parochet (curtain in front of the ark in the synagogue); Shabbat challah cover; Passover matzah cover; the list goes on. There are also many ritual items that are traditionally made from other materials, such as a mezuzah (case to hold a scroll, placed on the doorposts) or tzedakah box (charity collection box) that I enjoy interpreting in textiles.
Click here to view Karen’s Judaic Fiber Art Quilt Gallery