Size matters

I have been wanting to see Art Quilt Elements especially after seeing all of the enticing images that the Wayne Art Center posted. I must say that they did a stupendous job in social media. Kudos all around. The images of the quilts were so compelling that I decided to venture over to the center while visiting my mom in Philadelphia.

I think it was a pretty nice show and I have always thought that this show has high standards. I was not disappointed. But the images online had prepared me for something different. In my mind I was expecting to see gloriously large quilts and I have to admit that I was dismayed to see many of my favorite pieces were actually pretty small and did not have the same impact that they did when viewed solo online.

I guess I have drunk the Crow KoolAid and feel that many pieces gain tremendous stature when they go from 18" x 24" to 70"x 80". In fact many of my favorite pieces in situ were rather large. My absolutely favorite piece was also the largest piece in the show and was by Dinah Sargeant an artist that I have long admired. I stared at her piece for 25 minutes and still found new and interesting corners to investigate. Walking into the room her piece dominated- not only by its technique and beauty but by its size. It commanded attention, as did the four or five other fairly large pieces in the exhibit. I was so moved by the piece that I wrote my very first artist fan letter.... blush blush....

Dinah Sargeant's "Spirit Dogs Greet the Ghosts" 
This is not to say that the show and the art chosen was not lovely- it was. It was varied and diverse and I felt that the workmanship was top notch. But even among many of the artists whose work I know and admire I kept thinking how much more impactful the pieces would be if they were blown up.

So, can size alone catapult a piece from being seen as merely a quilt to art? Not sure. I am certain that there are many pieces that are large that are not great works of art. Would viewers take cloth pieces more seriously when they have a larger scale? I do know that looking at Elizabeth Brandt's work, that her scale (along with her great artistry) might not have the same impact if it was much smaller. Seeing her shapes and colors explode on the wall is what makes her work so wonderful.

On the other hand, one can not doubt that Persian miniatures are art, so there has to be a place for small work in quilt shows as well. Naomi Adams piece was positively masterful and intriguing and it was not a large piece at all.

So as you can see I could probably argue both sides of this discussion... Large can equal bold but small can be exquisite and vice versa.

So size matters... but how and why? Questions I will continue to grapple with.