Thursday, September 10, 2009

Art Anyone?

Above is a set of shelves I have in my studio. They originally belonged to my great-grandmother so I don't know how old they are, but they fit in perfectly next to my bookshelves, (the ones with the actual books on them), and above my paper cabinet.

Storage of all kinds of odds and ends is a big issue for me. Along with the fact that I embellish all of my quilts, which requires a lot of buttons, beads, etc., I also have a graphic design business that requires me to have a lot of stuff on hand all of the time.

My business, Gillygaloofus, is an offshoot of my last job where I was the Design Graphics Coordinator for a well-known, high-end catering company. Along with doing the basic menus, placecards, signage, etc., I also create presentations that companies order to impress their potential clients. To do this I end up doing all kinds of interesting things, which means I need to have stuff on hand for those last minute orders. It can get a bit crazy but it's sure handy when you can reach into a drawer and find a bright blue feather, or grab some ribbon that's just the right shade.

It's also interesting to me how being creative in my work life helps me be even more creative in my quilting life. At times it can be a bit much, and I often get overwhelmed, but at the same time I see how the two lives intersect and how I learn from each of them something I can use for the other.

The main thing I learned from doing art for a living is that a person can be trained to think creatively and move from idea to idea quickly when necessary. In the past I would have been second guessing myself and over-analyzing everything. Now I've learned to trust my instincts and go with the flow, keeping my eyes and my heart open so that I can see opportunities that I would have missed before. I've also had more mistakes to learn from, more times I got caught up in something that wasn't working, but that I had to find a way to make it work, and quick! It has taught me to think on my feet.

Many of you may not remember the big debate that raged years ago about whether or not quilts were art. It was a big deal when I was an art major in college. The fact that I wanted to make quilts impressed some of my professors, but most thought I was some crazed Home Economics drop out from the 19th century. I remember shouting matches in my Women's Studies course when I was accused of bringing all women down by doing "women's work." It was a crazy time.

Now it's taken for granted that quilts are "art." and that those of us who make them are "artists." I've seen some quilts that were pretty awful and that it would be easy to denigrate and put into another category other than "art." But then a lot of the so-called "art" I've seen in museums and galleries belong in that non-art category as well...at least as far as I'm concerned.

Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. What I might consider "art" you might find hideous, and vice-versa. However, I believe that anyone who has the urge to create and takes the time to do it deserves my respect. Not everyone will win awards or make it into the quilting magazines, but that isn't really what matters.

I know this first hand because I have won awards and I have been in quilting magazines, and frankly, it didn't mean as much to me as I thought it would. The recognition was great and I didn't mind the prizes, but it didn't really change me. I don't know what I was expecting, but after the initial excitement the ribbons were hung up on the wall, the magazines stored away, and it was still me, a stack of fabric and the eternal question . . . what next?

So, I guess what I'm trying to get across is that it's the creative process that counts. Not everyone's work is going to be fabulous everytime, and there may be times when our work really stinks, (don't I know it!), but the fact is that even if I knew that my quilts would end up being used as furniture padding, I'd still make them, and I'd still enjoy the time I spent with them.

I hope you will continue to do the same.

Happy Stitching!

Susan

P.S. My husband made the cool ribbon spool holders shown below. He cut the bottom of our Christmas tree into various widths, drilled holes for dowels and then glued them in. The wood gives them a good weight at the bottom and I love the way they look!

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