Visit your Local Museum and Learn about Yourself


Ok! Now I get it. I just never understood why some people have problems with quilts hanging on a wall. Art quilters have grown used to comments like the following: “They aren’t quilts, if they’re on a wall.” “Why don’t you make a real quilt?” “You can’t sleep under it.” “That’s not like what my grandma made.”

Implying that a medium must have a specific form or use is ludicrous, I would think to myself. Well, I recently discovered my own prejudice after visiting a lovely exhibition called “Little Dreams in Glass and Metal: Enameling in America, 1920 to the present.”

I love enamel, I kept telling myself. Why wasn’t I head over heels in love with the exhibit? Why were there so many “paintings?” Enamel is supposed to be used for decorating “things,” like jewelry and boxes and, well, useful things. This is what I thought:

Marianne Hunter Kabuki Kachina Conducts the Orchestra

Marianne Hunter
Kabuki Kachina Conducts the Orchestra

Arthur Ames Waiting

Arthur Ames

William Harper Labyrinth

William Harper

Edward Winder Vegetabilis

Edward Winder

But here are a few that have me rethinking my enamel/not enamel position:

Jean Tudor Gurness Broch

Jean Tudor Gurness

About Jean Tudor’s amazing “brooch” above. The attached part in the foreground: Enamel. The background: Not Enamel.

Mary Chuduk Veiled

Mary Chuduk

Then there’s Mary Chuduk’s Veiled. It’s almost an upside down bowl. But it’s not.

Katharine S. Wood Rocket Machine Shop

Katharine S. Wood
Rocket Machine Shop

Now I’ve really got a problem. Katharine S. Wood’s Rocket Machine Shop is flat. It looks like parts that could be made into a bracelet, but it’s not.

So here’s what I learned about myself: I just don’t like flat enamel. So it’s okay if you don’t “get” art quilts. I give you permission to not like them. And now I get it that you don’t think they’re quilts. Or, maybe we should all stop trying to pigeon hole things and not worry so much about definitions.

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