Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Diane Rehm Show on Art Quilts

Diane Rehm had as her guest today a woman name Gayle Pritchard, who has written a book called "Uncommon Threads: Ohio's Art Quilt Revolution. I thought they'd actually talk about the art quilt movement.

Very little was said about art quilts. Penny McMorris was mentioned twice and Nancy Crow once. QSDS, zero. I don't remember any other art quilters mentioned. Oh, someone mentioned David Walker. I suppose the show sort of has to follow the lead of the callers, and they were all of the "my grandmother used to quilt" variety. I was so disappointed. I really thought there would be something substantive; that show is usually pretty good. They actually talked about t-shirt quilts and Holly Hobbie quilts, which are fine, but hardly fit the "art quilt" category. There was a little chat about Gees Bend, but even then, those quilts don't meet the author's (not my) definition of art: something made purposefully to express a concept. Pritchard also implied that only people with formal art degrees can be artists, and Diane said that she thinks all quilts are art. The discussion perpetuated the image of old women sitting around a frame. One caller even mentioned coffee cans for the women who dipped snuff. That image is about as far from most contemporary quilting, traditional or original, as it could get.

Makes me mad. If the guest had been a painter, you can bet the "my grandmother used to paint" calls would have been rejected.


Lisa Call said...

I have to admit I haven't a clue who Diane Rehm is - but maybe my grandma made her a quilt.


Lisa Call said...

Okay - I just googled her. I'm sure I've heard her program - but clearly I am not good at names!

Hm - maybe I'll hunt down that show an listen to it online. Now I'm curious what NPR was saying about art quilts. Maybe we should produce our own show.

Gayle said...

A friend sent me your blog comments, so I thought you might be interested in my thoughts. First, let me say that I was very pleased to have the opportunity to appear on NPR; The Diane Rehm Show has a listening audience of over 5 million. This can only help the art quilt world, since they had never done a program on quilts of any sort prior to mine in December. The show is a call-in show, and, obviously, I had no control over which calls were put on the air. Most of the callers did not really have questions, but rather, wished to discuss their own experience with quilts. Nevertheless, the producer did post images from the book on their website (they are still there, last time I checked). So many people went to look at them, that their site crashed. This, I thought, was terrific. When I left the studio, I was handed a large stack of emails from listeners, all of which I have tried to answer.
While I accept your criticism of the show, I would hope that you would take the time to read what I wrote prior to making final judgements about my work. The book discusses, in addition to the artists, the formation of the Art Quilt Network, Quilt National, The Artist as Quiltmaker and, of course, QSDS.
In any case, I am glad you had the chance to hear the show. The lecture the following day at the Textile Museum was terrific, with many informed questions and a large crowd. This has been my experience at each lecture and book signing I have done. The public is eager to know what this field is all about, and I am glad to have the opportunity to discuss it.