Art Quilt Portfolio The Natural World: Review

On a rainy, rainy day full of flash flood warnings, Ron went to check the furniture on the porch and found a paper envelope addressed to me. Fortunately only the envelope was wet and the contents were dry. This awful habit of our delivery services in the USA of just leaving packages without even a knock on the door could have been disastrous. Lucky me that this book to review was inside.

Martha Sielman did a masterful job of assembling a portfolio of artists who’s work portrays the natural world. The artists work with their own hand created cotton and silk cloth as well as readily available commercial fabrics. Some work 2-D and let  their treatment of the image give it dimension, while others like Melani Kane Brewer add wires, sculpted fabric and threads for a 3-D effect.

The questions Martha posed to the artists in the interviews helped them open a window into their creative process.  It is interesting to note that many of the photographs were taken by the quilt artists rather than professional photographers.  The quality of this book as an art book  is unquestionable. However, the press release enclosed made me scratch my head because of statements like “….themes that quilters love best” and “Quilters will find this inspirational compilation a must-have.” I didn’t feel that the person writing the press release understood that this is an art book and not a book about making traditional quilts. Just my opinion.

The book has some emphasis on how the artists integrate computer use and digital imagery into their work. This can include direct printing onto cloth using their photography or using their photography for inspiration. Other quilters note the importance of sketching and keeping a sketchbook.

There is a strong representation of artists working realistically, which would be expected for this book. Some of this art is of extreme closeups or macro views that turn the form into abstract imagery.  Ginny Smith’s work on pages 30-35 is noticeably different. Her use of stylized bird images along with traditional quilt blocks draws the viewer into the piece. There isn’t a concern for perfectly matched points or square corners. She uses primarily commercial fabrics that evoke a mood and tell individual stories. Simple phrases are added on some pieces. The finished work is reminiscent of primitive folk art but they are truly graphic modern art.

This is a must have book for anyone interested in modern art, not just quilt and textile art.

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