When the Art Quilt Study Group formed years ago, participants spent long periods of time trying to find a definition of exactly what was considered “art.” After many conversations, with many different viewpoints, we finally settled on “art is whatever you think it is.” In other words, art is in the eyes of the beholder.

Our little art study group still meets monthly. Every other month a member of the group comes up with a word and we have two months to interpret this word into a 12-inch-by-12-inch quilt.

Words such as “bird” and “water” have been used as well as “transitions” and “signs.” Members come up with some really interesting viewpoints and we all enjoy seeing what everyone comes up with.

This month’s word is “light” and I’m having a difficult time coming up with a unique idea. Our little quilts will be exhibited at the Crossroads To Texas Quilt Show, Sept. 7-8, if you’re curious to see what we’ve been making.

Art quilts are a large part of the quilting world. Some quilters are really rebels and after learning the basics of piecing and applique, off they go on a journey all their own, making stunning art quilts.

Some art quilts I love, and some not so much. What I personally think of others’ work makes no difference.

Last summer, the Art Quilt Study Group went on a short road trip to Temple to see an art quilt exhibit at the old train station museum. Again, some of the quilts were breathtaking and I wondered where they got the idea to make them. Others were complete failures in my eyes. I asked myself why in the world did that quilter waste their time and fabric to make something so unappealing.

If you’ve ever attended the Houston International Quilt Festival, I’m sure you’ve noticed the majority of quilts on display could be considered art quilts. Although you will also see stunning Baltimore Album quilts — which I consider traditional. Also thrown into the mix are adaptations of traditional patterns, which are manipulated into a finished quilt that looks like a piece of art. I ask myself “how did they come up with that idea?”

My Machine Quilting Unlimited magazine usually has an article about art quilts in each issue. Again, some of the pictures of these art quilts are stunning and reading how and where the quilter found inspiration and their technique in piecing, appliqueing, painting and embellishing their quilts is worth the time to read.

Reading how others come up with ideas and the techniques they use to make their art quilts gives me encouragement to stretch myself to see if I can quilt a little more “out of the box” when making my little quilts. Frequently, I fall behind and then have to rush to catch up with the group. That means I pick the easiest way to complete my quilt instead of really putting a lot of thought and time into making a piece that could have been much more interesting.

Case in point, the “light” quilt was due Monday and I haven’t even come up with a design yet. I hope to find inspiration this weekend and complete it in time.


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