Saturday, July 2, 2011

Where Are the Writers?

One of the issues I hear discussed frequently is the lack of articles and reviews relating to art quilts and other contemporary textile art. One of the sources for articles, Fiber Arts magazine, just published their last issue and a wonderful book publisher, Telos, has stopped publishing.

These publications were likely "victims" of the world wide web and the easy access to images. There will never be a lack of interest for thoughtful and well written articles on art of all kinds but it appears that where you find this information is changing.

I see an opportunity here for anyone out there who loves to write, is knowledgable about textile arts or who would love to learn about the subject. Many artists, like myself, have blogs and we write and post but I am suggesting something a little different. I am suggesting a blog that really focuses on reviewing textiles, textile artists and textile exhibitions.

It can be very difficult for an artist to review shows and work of other artists, especially others who are working within the same sphere. The world tends to become very "small" in that you meet many people and become involved with them professionally therefore making it more difficult to view their work objectively.

There are some sites that do present great articles but I don't think the field is at all crowded.

Ragged Cloth Cafe is the first site that comes to mind. Right now there is an excellent article by Olga Norris on the topic of the vanishing publishers. This site has multiple contributors and the articles are fresh and relevant. Bravo to you all! Readers can subscribe to their feed and comments are allowed.

The Textile Blog is the site of John Hopper. Currently he is writing about historical textiles but in the past he featured wonderful articles on contemporary quilt artists. In those articles he shared his observations about the work and shared many pictures of work by a single artist.

Textile Designss is a site I mentioned earlier this week. The articles here are also well written and very broad. It does appear to have very general topics but if you read several you may begin to spot names and references to museums and galleries of interest.

Joanne Matrera Art Blog is the type of blog I would love to see focused on textile art. Joanne does present work on her blog that is textile related and inspired but that is not her focus. Her site and her articles are very impressive in the quality and quantity of work she presents and the number of shows she visits. Thank you Joanne.

I know that part of the issue is that there isn't a place where there are clusters of galleries or museums featuring textiles. Researching and writing reviews and surveys of shows is very time consuming and most people who do this type of work aren't being paid for their effort.


What to do? First I applaud all the artists who do review shows they attend. If you have a blog and don't write about shows you see, I encourage you to do so. Encourage any writers you may know to use their skill and talent to write about our art and please, let me know about good writing relating to compentary textiles. I'll promote that for sure.
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Please check out the comments as I have already heard from readers who review contemporary textiles.
UPDATE: Another excellent blog: http://sevenpinesdesigns.blogspot.com/
Vivian Zepf writes about all types of art exhibitions and currently has an article from one of the Quilt National Jurors, Pauline Verbeek.

I also forgot to mention the Surface Design Association's excellent magazine The Surface Design Journal. This magazine is published quarterly and is one of the benefits of membership in this very professional organization.
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11 comments:

  1. Terry, don't forget the Surface Design Journal! What a rich publication that is and has been and how much it contributes to the recognition of fiber as a fine art medium.

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  2. I've recently started a set of binders with sheet protectors in them. I print out blog posts I like and file them into the appropriate binder for future reference. I know that the world is going toward the e-book, buttt I don't find reading things on a screen helpful. I like to read something - think a while - go back and read it again.

    and yes Terry - I've printed yours off (grin)!

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  3. I review every show I go to on my blog, even it if has fiber art but isn't a quilt show, but a general art show...I tend to pick out only the fiber pieces...yes, I'm prejudiced. I actually go to quite a few shows. :)

    I also review books periodically and I recently reviewed the documentary "Stitched" and later had an interview with Jenna Moreno who produced it.

    I do periodically blog about other topics (my garden, quilts I'm working on or completed, rarely current events), but by far, it is a quilting blog. People have said that my photos aren't half bad either although I'm having a vision problem at present which means sometimes my shots are a little blurry...mea culpa.

    My blog can be found at:

    http://michigoose-life-quilts.blogspot.com

    June 23, 28, 29 cover fiber art shown at the Marianist Environmental Education center. I will have one more installment after I hear back from one of the exhibitors. Shortly, I will review the art quilt show at the Aullwood Audubon Center....within the next week I expect and that one will be in several installments as well as I usually go over all the quilts. :)

    Lisa Quintanaq

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  4. Thank you Jeanne, Nina-Marie and Lisa! Yes, the Surface Design Journal is an excellent source of well written articles and reviews and I will add that to my post.

    Nina-Marie, I'm with you. While I love the immediacy of on-line information, I prefer something I can hold and flip through and file.

    Lisa. Thank you for mentioning your blog. Coverage of shows and exhibitions by bloggers such as yourself are often the best or only coverage of an entire show. Good job!

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  5. I too love to review shows of both fiber and non-fiber art. Just finished ten posts about this year's Quilt National and this week I'm reviewing the quilt shows at Zanesville and Columbus, OH.

    artwithaneedle.blogspot.com

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  6. Terry,
    I agree that it can be difficult for artists to review the work of their peers.
    I enjoy being able to see images and read information about fiber exhibitions and shows.
    As you know, I read many blogs, but getting REAL critical reviews are few and far between.

    Where are the writers of FiberArts Magazine now? Are they looking to write for another entity?

    You specifically suggested a Blog. Who should start it?
    Perhaps a blog will rise to the surface, until then, any one who reads this should write to the Surface Design Association, because they want to fill the gap Fiberarts as made.

    On June 24th Surface Design Association posted the following entry on Facebook:
    "Very tough to imagine our world without Fiberarts, but SDA began strategizing the moment it was announced. How would you like to see Surface Design Journal adapt to fill the void?"

    So, let's pile on our ideas to SDA. They've got the capabilities to expand. I'm willing to offer my support.
    Christine

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  7. Thanks for the heads-up, Christine. I've been on the fence about joining SDA for a while. This info tipped me over and I've written my check today.

    Terry, in my admittedly not very wide reading about various art movements, it seems that there was usually someone who spearheaded a little magazine that set out the goals and philosophy of the group and explained their thinking about what they were doing and why they were doing it, and thereby promoted the members' work.

    Because of the ease and fluidity of the Internet, my concern is that there's too much writing and not enough editing -- by which I mean the thoughtful and sometimes idiosyncratic collection, refinement, organization, and dissemination of ideas. The editor's vision is really what makes or breaks a magazine. And sufficient or insufficient capital, but that's true of most endeavors.
    -Melanie

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  8. Thank you Kathy. I have been reading your reviews and I have posted your link.

    Christine and Melanie. Thank you both. The lose of FiberArts does open the door wider for the SDJ to fill the void and I believe they have the talent to do just that. Melanie, I loved your comments about editing.

    I also think there is a place for talented writers with an interest in art to present well written articles online. Here is a link to a blog of the quality I'm thinking of: http://mnaves.wordpress.com/category/criticism/

    The writer is Mario Naves and his blog is named Too Much Art.

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  9. Here is another blog link with a review of work that uses textile process and materials but ....well read this article: http://www.nyartbeat.com/event/2010/363C

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  10. Thanks for all the links, Terry. I'm going to follow the blogs closely. I also love to read what Kathy Loomis writes in her blog, which includes not only show reviews, but general commentary on art.

    Like many others, I also write reviews of shows I've visited. In fact, the post that continues to get the most hits on my blog is my review of the Georgia O'Keefe Abstractions exhibit. (I don't just review fiber art shows.) When I read something provocative and thought provoking, I'll also review a book. My most recent blog post comments on Pauline Verbeek's candid views on being a juror for Quilt National, as presented in her juror's statement in the exhibit catalog.

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  11. Thank you Vivien! I have updated and added you to my list.

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