Story Matters!

This week as I was teaching at the AQS QuiltWeek show in Des Moines, IA, I perused the quilt exhibitions and checked out the winners circle. I saw a number of beautiful and technically superior quilts, many which I’ve seen before, as I’m sure you have. These quilts were selected for being the best hand quilting, best machine quilting, and best of show etc. Congrats to the winners who magnificently expressed many of the elements of art! However, I found myself bemoaning that a specific category of artistic expression hadn’t been honored….story.

Cherrywood Challenge 2016: The Lion King
Broadway recognizes the value of story

It is story in the art or of the art that makes us laugh, cry, and/or scream. It is story that provides cathartic release or allows the artistic expression of the quilter to be transferred to the viewer. Even antique quilts value story, when the price of a quilt goes up because it is signed or researched, or related to a historic event. However when it comes to judging, story and the emotional element (which is much harder to judge) frequently gets left out.

Why Not? By Angela Petrocelli, Prescott Valley, AZ, 75” x 75” The title guides the story here, I can think of a thousand reasons, why not, such as too many tiny pieces, careful placement of color…

My quilting journey is just getting started, but even so, I try to be sure that the element of story is included. Frequently the title helps guide the viewer through the story. “Splish, Splash, I was Taking a Bath…” is a quilt showing an elephant playing in the water. (I always hope viewers don’t consider it a self-portrait.) Or “Hidden in the Hills” takes a mountain landscape and provides closeups of the animals residing in that world.

Red Temples by Karen Turnbull, Laguna Niguel, CA, 70” x 60” the artist tranports us to another time and place with her story of Japan.

So it is with great honor that I’m pleased to announce the winners of the first T-n-T awards by revealing the images in our blog. (Sorry quilters, there isn’t any monetary value associated with this win.) Instead you receive our appreciation of your hard work and the joy of knowing your art is treasured. Readers will get the chance to see quilts not usually featured. Judges, I hope you’ll include a new element to your judging analysis, because…story matters!

Long Winter Flower Basket Flower Sampler by Eileen Daniels, Brodhead, WI 76" x76", The story of this quilt tells of life in Wisconsin, I couldn't help wondering what she'd create if she lived on the North pole.