Tuesday, November 30, 2010


A week or so ago Rayna Gillman wrote a blog post with the same title as this one. There has been a lot of discussions of "derivative" work on some of the art quilt discussions groups we both belong to.Derivative is not considered a good thing, but the question is always whether one artist is purposely attempting to make her work look like someone else's, or it just naturally, innocently happens sometimes. Most of us are making work that is new to us. Work that we have worked through in our heads and has meaning to us. Sometimes there are startling coincidences where very similar work springs from completely different sources. Rayna showed a piece of hers and one of Karen Rips, made 3000 miles apart, totally independent from one another, that, nevertheless, exhibit very similar elements. The paranoid among us might scream "copy!" but most of us know that it is just coincidental and happens fairly often. Kind of interesting when it does.  Rayna suggested an exhibit of  "Synchronicity" artworks. That would be fun to see, I think.

So, just as I was thinking about these things and they were being discussed online, what should I see, but this piece my friend Gerrie Congdon made for her sketchbook project.

And what did it remind me of? Well, this piece that I made at least 6 years ago for the Journal quilt project.

Did Gerrie copy my work? Absolutely not! She may never have even seen my piece. I think I made it before she lived here. Gerrie's piece is called "Fissure". Mine is "Cracked Ice". I am sure we are not the only people who have found something lovely about the random lines created by cracking ice, dried mud, fractured earth. And we won't be the last. Normally the work we do could not be more different, but this once our observations and inclinations coincided. It's bound to happen. And, actually, kind of a reminder that we are all more alike than we are different.


  1. No, I have never seen your cracked ice piece. I love it and I would never look at it and say wow, a Terry piece.

    This happens to me quite often, but usually the piece is in my head and then I see someone else has done it.

  2. My favorite thing about this post? Your realization about the artistic relationship between you and Gerrie. You two are very different friends, and yet the same too. I like that.

  3. Just another example of "great minds think alike."
    If I had time/energy/time/energy/TIME, I would love to curate such an exhibit in the future.

    But unless people come forward with such coincidences, I would think it difficult to find instances of this. Well, so far we have two pieces - LOL. I'd also like to see it extended to a variety of media - not just you-know-whats.

  4. I mean, four pieces..or two instances.

  5. I see 'deriivitive' as more of an attempt to replicate an idea someone has seen before, whether conscious or unconscious- in other words if Gerrie had taken a class from you and you had featured your Cracked Ice piece, she loved it and wanted one too. One of the members of my crit group and I, years ago, both came walking in with snow fences in our work. We didnt' see it as synchronicity or being derivitive, more just garden variety coincidence. So, there ya go, Rayna, when you get the energy blast!

  6. I did a cracked ice piece as part of a tryptch for a High Fiber Diet Japanese Garden exhibit, probably in the 1990's.

    I think of that as my Japonisme period. My memory is that Jan had it hung at her house, last time I saw it. I remember a honeymooning couple really wanted it but couldn't afford the fairly modest price I had on it. These days, I think I would have given it to them.

    Guess I'll have to put it up on the blog tonight:-)