As Aunt Jane says: today, the material need really no longer drives the artist toward this practice, but the need to tell stories is still very much the force behind the quilt.
“Woman’s Work and Quilting”
“I’ve been a hard worker all my life, but ‘most all of my work has been the kind that ‘perishes with the usin’,’ as the Bible says. That’s the discouragin’ thing about a woman’s work...if a woman was to see all the dishes that she had she had to wash before she died, piled up before her in one pile, she’d lie down and die rights then and there. I’ve always had the name o’ being a good housekeeper, but when I’m dead and gone there ain’t anybody goin’ to think o’ the floors I’ve swept, and the tables I’ve scrubbed, and the clothes I’ve patched, and the stockin’s I’ve darned...
But when one of my grandchildren, or great-grandchildren sees one o’ these quilts, they’ll think about Aunt Jane, and, wherever I am then, I’ll know I ain’t forgotten”.
Aunt Jane of Kentucky, ca. 1900.
The Contemporary Art Modern Project announces the third edition of Women Pulling at The Threads of Social Discourse, an annual exhibition that centers female voices in the textile arts and listens to what they have to say about the world in which we all find ourselves. Featuring artists from The CAMP Gallery, Fiber Artists Miami Association, and others, the pieces that comment on our goals, our struggles, and our lives, culminating in one large work made up of a myriad of realities. FAMA & Guests Quilts’ goal is to stimulate a democratization of the visual arts in participation, inviting artists at any point in their careers to submit a piece, and in viewership.
Women Pulling at the Threads of Social Discourse has always focused on a practice known as “femmage,” which refers to creative spheres historically associated with femininity: scrap-booking, sewing, knitting, patching, embroidery, and quilting. While men are participants in these crafts, it is the presumed silence and femininity of these activities that allows the works to take on a subversive tone. She may sew in private, but Her words and stitches are keys to exploring what underlying qualities hold or break apart the social fabric.
Historically, the practice of quilting evolved from a material need—warmth—as well as an emotional need to tell stories and, to a certain degree, to obtain a sense of immortality through remembrance. As Aunt Jane says: today, the material need really no longer drives the artist toward this practice, but the need to tell stories is still very much the force behind the quilt. The process of quilting involves taking many different fabric and thread segments, arranging and making them into one complete whole, so it becomes the epitome of harmoniously unifying the different elements of life. As quilts become a platform on which to preach about what is happening in our world, and in so doing become the lesson board from which we should learn, they come to reflect a place of warmth and protection within which we can stride forward to enact change together.
After spending most of 2020 apart, and lacking full unity in 2021—both years in turmoil—many still seek connections with those they love and ideals that they can embrace and be proud of. This year’s edition, FAMA & Guests Quilts, speaks on the many different aspects of life lived, both socially and privately, weaving those experiences into one large quilt that unites the artists, their stories and in many cases, their answers to what plagues us. They present a message on how society can break free and cure itself from distance, hate, separatism, and all the negatives that have defined these last two years.
Interestingly, last year’s edition of the exhibition paid homage to the women of the Suffrage who fought for the rights women enjoy today; this year’s edition pays homage to the textile artists of today who are still trying to piecemeal a better world to leave to future generations.