I have long been curious about what draws a person to a particular quilt--or any piece of art, for that matter. The preferences many times seem to fall into two main camps, although these are probably just the two dominant ends of a long spectrum of preferences: the representational or the abstract. All of us are drawn to the human face--I know there are studies out there that demonstrate this, but I'm not about to spend the time to search them out. But our eyes seem to focus first on any faces that might be visible. And our minds are always trying to make sense of our surroundings so when a quilt looks like something--a dog, a tree, a landscape--our minds probably heave a little sigh of relief that they don't have to work so hard figuring out what is going on. So the popularity of the representational is easy to explain.
But that doesn't explain why I--and I know there are some others like me out there, although we definitely seem to be a minority--am drawn to the abstract. I spend a lot of time looking at pieces that play with pattern (not necessarily symmetrical) or color or shape and even enjoy the objects, animals, persons in a quilt more when they have become more abstract or patterned. Even in Ireland, while everyone was commenting on the eight cute cows that were gathered at a stone wall, I was more interested in the patterns in the stone wall. But they got their revenge when I stepped in a cow souvenir, which was neither abstract nor representational but very real and very fresh.
I have just finished a piece (20" x 37")--well, it needs a hanging sleeve and a label--that is an attempt to think in fabric about this issue. I'm calling it "Dialog: Pattern or Picture?" And anybody reading that hates quilts with a message or a long explanation attached should just look at and respond to the quilt and skip all the rest of this blog, although the quilt involves more questions than a single message for me.
I added the circle of pointed ovals at the top, a shape that, when flipped, becomes a leaf. Is one more significant, more interesting, more valuable, more beautiful, more attention grabbing than the other?
Anyway, back to color, which is important in this quilt as well: I chose a more solid hand-dyed blue to set off the busier green and amethyst snow-dyes, and some of Laura Wasilowski's great hand-dyed pearl cotton to do the hand quilting.
Now I'll see if my attempt at capturing a dialog in fabric works for anyone else besides me. And if you're still with me, thanks for the company.