Ken Price: “Untitled Two Parts”
For a while now, I’ve been intrigued by a comment by Ken Price, a ceramic sculptor, an artist. Since he sometimes did representational shapes like cups, saucers and covered jars, the “cultural prejudice against clay as a hobby-craft material unsuitable for major art” reared its head to often typecast him as a craftsman, not an artist (quotes from an article in the LATimes). Just like our quilts. My art professor in college, when I asked him when he’d ever okay a show of quilts, said “Over my dead body.” He was kidding (well, maybe not) and the answer stung. I realized that even though there is now more recognition for the quilt as an art form, too often we are put in the craft category. So I was intrigued by the following quote (also from the LATimes article):
Price did distinguish between craft and art, but it’s important to note that he respected them both. ”A craftsman knows what he’s going to make and an artist doesn’t know what he’s going to make,” he once said, “or what the finished product is going to look like.”
These words did echo in my head as I worked on English Elizabeth. Like Price, I took my fabrics and my technical skills and knew that somewhere I’d end up with a quilt. But I didn’t know what I was going to make, or what the finished product was going to look like. My quilts will never hang in a museum, but the journey for this quilt was so different than my usual, that Price’s words resonated.
There’s an interesting energy that comes from trying something new, or to use a cliché: “stepping out of your comfort zone.” Usually, for me, a quilt begins at the computer, doodling around in my computer program or imitating something I’d seen before, but this process–to create out of whole cloth, literally, was an experience that I found seductive, scary and immensely satisfying.