In general, when we hear about patchwork, we think about blocks, colors and quilts that are traditional. This is the reason why I would like to introduce “Modern Quilting”. In Latin America, this movement I feel a part of, is not well known. This is why I would love for many quilters to know more about how it originated and what are its characteristics.
Photo by Carolina Oneto 2016,exhibit at the MET, New York, “American Quilts and Folk Art“ en el MET
Modern quilting is many things, it is art, it is stories, it is self-expression, it is utilitarian. In these quilts we can see improvisation, minimalism, use of negative space, the concept of rule breaking or flexibility of rules, always honoring traditionalism and the history.
To begin, it is important to understand where it comes from and what are its influences. It is worth mentioning at this point, the Amish quilts, which through the use of solid fabrics, bright and daring colors, and a clean and graphic design have been a very important influence in modern quilts.
Also, it is important to mention the “Gee’s Bend Quilts” created by a small community of African American quilters in Alabama. These quilts have become a great inspiration because of the improvisational quality they were created with and also, their use of solid colors.
Source: New Orleans Museum of Arts
Among the great quilters that have influenced modern quilting, we have Nancy Crow y Gwen Marston.They made a strong use of improvisational methods, solid colors, incredible compositions, freeing and breaking some of the rules of traditional quilt making. Finally, it is very interesting to know the work on Yoshiko Jinzenji, Japanese quilter, with a minimalistic esthetic and great use of negative space, who was also a huge influence in the modern quilting movement.
The birth of “Modern Quilting”
The birth of modern quilting was driven by a series of events and circumstances. Next, are a few of those:
1. The introduction of the quilts of Denyse Schmidt in “Martha Stewart Living” in 1998, defining them as “modern”.
2. Technological changes and the growth of the internet
3. The Gee’s Bend Quilts are exhibited all over the USA during 2002
4. The publishing of several books like “Quilt Artistry” by Yoshiko Jinjenzii , “Modern Quilt Workshop” by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr And “Denyse Schmidt Quilts” Those were the first books to introduce and explain how to make modern quilts.
5. The great availability of digital cameras.
6. The growth of the fabric industry, creating availability of modern fabrics in the USA
8. The virtual quilting bees allow quilters from all over the world to connect, organize and create collaborative quilts in spite of the distance.
Elements of Design
What are some of the design elements we can find in those quilts? In a modern quilt, we can find 2, 3 or 4 of these elements. Not all of them need to be used!
1. Alternate Grid
3. Graphic colors and solids fabrics
7. Modern tradisionalism
8. Use of vast negative space
9. No borders
11. Dense Quilting
In a future post we will talk specifically about each of these elements, characteristics and examples.