Thursday, June 09, 2011

Kindred spirit

Tonight the program at our Columbia FiberArts Guild meeting was a presentation by Jane Sassaman. I have been a fan for a long time of her wonderfully crisp and graphic designs. Besides making beautiful quilts, she designs fabric, using the same kind of lush imagery as her quilts. A number of years ago I made this quilt, using a variety of her fabrics to create the floral background.

Tonight she talked about being in high school and college in the '60s and Op Art and the Arts and Crafts Movement and William Morris and the Pattern and Decoration movement. My era. All the things I love. All things that seem not to be so popular among the art quilters I associate with.

I'm not comparing myself to Jane Sassaman, mind you. I only wish I had her style, but I recognized a similar intent and mindset in what she does and what I try to do and like to do.

There is so much dyeing and painting and layering and subtlety (I call it "moosh" when it crosses into that totally unfocused area) going on in the art quilt world and my brain doesn't work that way so much. It is not that I don't like what I see. I like all kinds of art, done well. It is just that it is not what I can, or want to do myself. I love clear, flat color and crisp edges and symmetry and stylization of representational images, and I am pretty much alone in that among my immediate circle of quilt artists.It was just pretty great to make the connection tonight that I am coming from some of the same places as Jane. Here is one of her quilts:

And another:

Here is William Morris, the Master.

No moosh here.


  1. Her quilts are stunning! Thank you for sharing ... and I agree about the moosh. Great word too - I will use it (quietly, to myself) when needed.

  2. I just purchased a William Morris applique book. I have been blown away with the design and the colors. He is really the master with the design in my book. Chris

  3. SO with you on the anti-moosh side of things. I adore your work and have from the first moment I saw it for all of those adjectives you used to describe it. I fall heavily into the stylized, graphic camp myself and think "clean" is a good word to aspire to, artistically speaking. Lol. (not necessarily literally, although I am kinda a neat freak)

  4. This is why I stopped attending my quilt chapter and the art quilts group here in Maine. I didn't make what they made and didn't care fore what they made and was tired of listening to all the "moosh" hints and tips.

    I stepped away and now get my "art tips" from quilters and fiber artists who are walking a path similar to mine.

    When you get that new studio built, step away from the groups you now are apart of and do YOUR work on YOUR terms.

  5. As we sat there and listened to Jane, I was thinking of you and how similarly you think and work. You know don't you, that those of us who do "moosh" love and admire your work, but we can't do it!!

  6. I bet that was a really good lecture.

    I'm with you on your style selection. I do like lots of different styles as long as they are done well.

    But, for me, I have to make abstract, sometimes minimal, flat graphic work (right now).

    You are not alone in the cyber world.

  7. I have the same sensibilities as you, and yes, it does seem to be a minority aesthetic. I remember when I first met you and you were describing how you work (not style but method), I recognized a kindred spirit, one I don't run across often. "Neat & tidy" is the way I've begun thinking of my approach to design, and a bit plodding in its execution. "Uptight," is what I've been accused of. Geez, it's just a different style and intent, as you say.

    I'm such a fan of William Morris and the arts & crafts movement...and Jane Sassaman ain't so bad either! Lucky you to get to see her in person.

  8. Anonymous6:09 AM

    I love you comments on "moosh". The needlepoint media sometimes crosses over into this area too; too many colors, threads, textures...Sometimes I think everyone has forgotten the design principals and the old saying, "Less is more."

  9. Interesting discussion. I love to look at the "moosh", but I can't seem to make it. I seem to lean to the stylized and symbolic. Maybe it has something to do with all the books on Egyptian and Ancient Greek art that I devoured as a kid. And Art Deco travel posters are to die for! I guess the most important part of making is that the art you make has meaning to you.

  10. Moosh has it's place when expressing ideas. It's more of a tool and it's easy to get caught up in the making and not the expressing of the idea. Sorta like calligraphy. Easy to get caught up in the beauty of the letters and the pen scratch on the paper, and totally misspell the word.
    I LOVE Jane Sassaman. I wish I'd known she was lecturing. I would totally have been there. :)

  11. Ah yes, Jane Sassaman is herself a master of stylization. I love her work. And I completely understand the joy of finding a kindred spirit! I'm still looking for mine somewhere on the line that straddles moosh and representational.

  12. I haven't been reading blogs for a while so I missed this. So glad I came back! I took a workshop with Jane Sassaman a few years ago and it was totally delightful. As a non-moosh person also, I totally enjoyed your explanation.

    Thanks for the explanation about Adobe Illustrator too.

  13. I completely understand -- I don't moosh either.