This show, at the Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany IN, is in its ninth year and over the years has attracted most of the major quilt artists in the country. Although I helped organize this show and served as a juror for several years, I have not been involved in the last two shows except as a viewer and an award donor. In fact, I was out of the country and missed the opening of the show in January, and did not have a chance to visit until last week.
As I looked at the show, I asked myself whether seeing the detail was beneficial to me as a viewer, and tried to think whether it would have helped me as a juror. Here's the quilt that seemed to be the best case study for these thoughts:
Standing across the room (or looking at the full-view image) you don't really know what you're looking at. It could very easily be a painting.
(I have to apologize for my photo -- in person the work seemed a lot greener and richer than you see here, and no amount of fiddling with my photo program could get the image closer to what I remember as the real thing.)
If it were a painting, would you jury this piece into your painting show based on this image alone? If it were a quilt, would you jury it in to FNF based on this image alone? If you encountered it in person in a museum, would you stay on the far side of the room to look at it?
I've always liked art with hidden treasures -- bits of information that are not visible in the long view, that don't reveal themselves until you have looked for a while. I think they are little rewards to the viewer for giving the work a second or a third look. I love to find these little bits in the art I see in museums, and try to put these touches into my own work.
So the question is, do jurors deserve to see a hidden treasure or two as they evaluate work for shows? Or is that inappropriate, cheesy, low-end, too oriented to craft and not enough to art? Is there a different answer for quilts than for paintings or other mediums? I suspect most fiber artists would vote for details; I wonder whether painters have another opinion.
Tell me what you think.