I’ve been gone to see my mother and father (he had an art show of his paintings) in Utah. While I was there, I took the chance to download the recent red and white quilt exhibit app onto her iPad. This made it necessary to stay up late a couple of nights to look at all the quilts. I’ll be posting about this off and on, but given that red and white is on my mind, I was struck by the lead photo in the New York Times about the current Hirshhorn exhibit of Blinky Palermo, a German artist.
The write-up of the exhibit extolled Palermo’s”breaking” of the canvas, and using other shapes and textures to create his art–even to the extent of creating with the canvas off of the stretcher bars. In other words, what we quilters do. But when will we ever have our art exhibited in the Hirshhorn? When a chicken has lips. We’ll have to content ourselves with being exhibited in folk art museums, as well as art/craft museums.
The piece above is titled “Composition With 8 Red Rectangles,” and was produced in 1964.
And here’s one from an anonymous woman, which I have titled Stacked Bars, date unknown. But I know that even if I titled it “Composition with Multiple Red Rectangles” it still wouldn’t make the Hirshhorn. It’s not ground breaking (notice that Palermo’s composition has squares, not rectangles?), the woman didn’t die young (as did Palermo), she didn’t have time to make more than one quilt a year–if that–and furthermore, she only worked in mediums that are particular to women: cloth, needles and thread.
But maybe, just maybe, in her neighborhood or sewing circle she was looked on as someone who came up with interesting ideas and new ways to arrange them and so influenced the “art” produced in her neck of the woods. She was the go-to girl for new quilt patterns. She was the one people sought out if they had to get something interesting on the bed and they only had two colors: turkey red and white. And given the mortality rate of early Americans, maybe she did die young–in childbirth? from a fever?–and is only memorialized by this intriguing composition of stacked squares that fool your eye into thinking they are bars. A veritable artist who broke the mold.