Saturday, August 15, 2020
Form, Not Function -- Best in Show
Form, Not Function: Quilt Art at the Carnegie is a show that has been at the Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany IN since 2004. It has bounced around the calendar several times for various reasons, including bad weather (it used to be in the winter) and coordination with Quilt National (so people could catch both shows on a single road trip) and this year, coronavirus. But it opened today, despite everything, and the museum is ready for masked visitors every day except Sunday. The show will be up through October 31, a longer run than usual, so maybe you'll be able to see it in person.
Best in Show went to Marty Ornish for her 3-D installation "She gazed at the carousel through rose-colored glasses."
Yes, it's made of yo-yos, a slinky one-sleeve halter-top dress cascading into a train that extends up the wall.
Ornish's artist statement says she works in "salvaged textiles and found items" and the yo-yos all appear to be made from Depression-era prints. I wish I knew more about the provenance -- did she find the yo-yos in somebody else's discarded stash, or make them herself? Are the fabrics authentic Depression-era or reproductions? In any case, the result is stunning, and the subdued pastel palette is calm and soothing from afar and endlessly interesting up close.
As I drove home from the museum it occurred to me to wonder whether this technically qualifies as a quilt under the FNF definition: layers held together by stitching. I guess technically it does, because yo-yos have a front layer and a back layer, and though the layers aren't exactly stitched "together" (the back of a yo-yo is entirely free of thread), you can argue that each yo-yo is "held together" with its buddies via stitching. (I have served as a juror in FNF several times, and it's this kind of nit-picking that you fall into ex officio.) Anyhow, the yo-yo quilt is a time-honored niche, so I would give it a pass even though it's not the standard "quilt" format.
And I'm so glad this year's jurors did, because this is a wonderful tour de force and so much fun to look at. When I was at the museum on Wednesday to choose the prizewinner for the River City Fiber Artists award, we agreed that this piece should be a no-brainer for the Viewer's Choice. I still think so!