Things are getting more and more eccentric at Casa de la Swain. Changing styles in my textile work, falling in love again with painting and photography...and then there is the ever illusive quest for continuing creativity through working with Eric Maisel. Still on the road teaching, posting now at the Ragged Cloth Cafe and taking the pledge to keep handmaiden up to date.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Small Discourse on Art as Social Commentary

While Kelly is working her fingers to the bone editing the newest dvd, I am watching for takes two and three and thinking. Oh, boy, here she goes again. Lately there has been quite a bit of discussion that as quilt artist we aren't making strong enough statements regarding the state of our society. While I agree that art imitates life, etc., I take umbrage with this you must do a certain kind of work to be doing work of value. As I see it every piece is social commentary because it is coming from a place inside of you that is seeking to make meaning in our world. The piece doesn't have to be an in your face statement but can be subtle and still contain very deep meaning.
For example, Claire Fenton's work about Katrina is breathtaking, yet subtle and is an obvious social commentary. However, it is also a personal expression of the effects this ordeal has had on her and the beautiful state she lives in. Even if you did not know it was about the devastation of the hurricane, you would be moved by this work.
Now let's look at Rayna Gillman's work with the antique photographs...some might be from her family; others she collects from various sources. Is this a political statement? Only Rayna can answer that but it certainly is a social commentary. Rayna is revealing something to us about herself....what she is drawn to, what memories effect her, how the imagery expresses something within her emotional, spiritual nature.
On the other hand, take a few minutes to look at Melody's new stack quilts. No politics as far as I can tell. I am open to being corrected on this, Mel. However, the composition and color are spectacular. Each piece stands alone as well as in the series. Is it socially relevant? Absolutely...anytime an artist reveals something from that inner core it is a gift to us all.
So enough with the we have to be socially aware, political artists for our work to have meaning.
Making meaning comes in all shapes and sizes....and quite often it is in the viewer's eye not the artist's eye. We have to make the work that feeds our soul regardless of what the imagery is....carry on digging deep into that external place where you know beauty resides.

Packaging the last crate of dvd's, but have no idea what I am going to wear since I haven't had time to tackle the closet......and then, of course, there will be the shoe dilemna. We have already assessed that everything will not fit into my Nissan we are renting a mini-van. How far have I fallen in the cute car department? I will be constantly looking for teen-age boys to carry to baseball practice. Will post some pictures of La Casa Swain as a manufacturing company when everything is done. Until then....who's big idea was this?


Karoda said...

Diversity is good for all things is my take...and everything is social and political commentary from the point of view of what it takes for a woman to create and make art period!

teri springer said...

Thanks for the commentary. I often worry that I will never be taken seriously because I don't make "statements" with my work....As you said, I do...I just feel there is enough ugliness in the world so I prefer to focus on nature, color, etc...


Gerrie said...

I love to "look" at art with a political statment, but to hang in my house - I will take a Mrs. Mel, thanks.

Mrs. Mel said...

O what a lovely post!
The personal in art is just that. And the personal is political. For me it is a political statement in the face of the quilting community to step back from the fireworks and create meditative, sensitive- to-materials designs.

I believe this is blog fodder for me...thanks!

Cathy said...

I so agree with your statement "every piece is social commentary" Thanks for saying it so well.

Kristin L said...

That we choose to use this medium is a social commentary, is it not? To work in fiber, and layers, which is inherently about connections and history; and to utilize such a feminine voice to create our works is a commentary on the need for warmth and caring in an often ugly, testosterone-driven world. I whole-heartedly agree with you taht we need not add more "depth" to our social commentary unless we choose to.

Felicity said...

That someone thinks art should contain this or should contain that, reveals more about their own narrow mind. Why should politics have more authority than beauty? Same with blogs, the ones that cover politics are supposed to be the 'best'. Load of nonsense!

cfent said...

gabrielle, as usual you are so eloquent in addressing this situation. (and thank you for your kinds words!) i think truly Personal expression takes every work of art to a different level, regardless of the content.
i would much rather have NOT had to do the work i've done on the storms etc. but am ever so grateful to have the means to express myself. much food for thought.