Friday, July 8, 2011

QSDS alumni show 4

One last post about the QSDS-sponsored show at the Riffe Gallery in Columbus. Today's subject is 3-D quilt art.

Three-D is a funny thing.  Most of the fabric we see in our daily lives is 3-D, and many of us who now make art out of fabric started our sewing careers with 3-D creations, aka clothing.  Quilted fabric also lends itself to being shaped and formed in a way that painting, for example, doesn't.  So it's natural that some artists try to add a third dimension to their quilts.

Yet for some reason I can't understand, we almost always fail.  And perhaps it's because most of the fabric we see in our daily lives is 3-D.  So when we see fabric art taking a dimensional form, we immediately think "clothing" or "home dec" or "stuffed toys."  And that sort of immediate reaction makes it so much harder for the viewer to backtrack and say wait, wait, maybe it's art and not upholstery. 

I firmly believe that it's possible to make 3-D quilted pieces that will come off as art; I even have an idea for something along those lines that I will make one of these days.  But sad to say, I recall only one 3-D quilt that struck me as powerful rather than cutesy.  That's a piece that I never even saw in person, only in the catalog of Quilt National '87: Krakow Kabuki Waltz, by Virginia Jacobs.  It was a seven-foot sphere, intricately pieced, then stretched over a balloon armature.  Perhaps because of its size, I doubt many people thought "toy" when they saw it.

I also liked the 3-D piece made by Naomi Adams in this year's Quilt National.

The QSDS show had several 3-D pieces.  I liked the one by Diane Nunez in which the bottom panel could be flipped up and fit into the negative spaces of the top panel.  The gridded areas stood out about two inches from the wall, and the shadows cast by the extensions became an important part of the composition.

Diane Nunez, Siamese Twins (detail below)

The piece by Ann Rebele was clever.  From directly in front of the quilt, you saw a large image of the Eiffel Tower.  If you took a few paces to either side, you realized that standing a half-inch out from the surface were slices from faux postcards, and if you stood at exactly the right angle you could read them.

Ann Rebele, Postcards from Paris and Journey Through France, 45 x 65" (detail below)

I was less enamored of the piece by Jill Rumoshosky Werner, which morphed from a standard landscape, rendered in 2-D, to a tableau of a picnic scene with life-size plates and food, complete with pickles made of plastic or clay (couldn't tell which).  Perhaps it was the change in mood from realistic, on the wall panel, to cartoonish, with the plastic pickles,  wooden plates and cloth lettuce, but it was difficult to take this piece seriously or understand what the artist had in mind.  Other than to make something that doesn't look like most of the other pieces in the show.  That part, at least, succeeded.

Jill Rumoshosky Werner, Picniced (detail below)


  1. I have enjoyed your postings on the shows. But how the heck did you get pictures of this show? I asked at the Riffe and at Superlatives and was told no way.

  2. well, I'll fess up to sneaking the photos at Zanesville, which is why there weren't very many. But the Riffe gallery attendant watched us photograph and said nothing so I didn't feel at all transgressive, and there were no signs. Perhaps a different person on duty when you were there?

    You didn't ask about Quilt National, but photos are generally forbidden there too. Fortunately they allow show participants and their guests to come in at a special preview hour during the opening weekend and take photos, which is how I got all the pictures for those reviews.

  3. Such great observations. I remember well Virginia Jacobs' piece, and I agree that it was one of the most successful dimensional piece I have seen.