"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."
Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.
First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Why do YOU work?
Have you spent time thinking about these questions?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot – partly because as a working artist you have lots of alone time, and although I adore audio books, I’ve recently chosen solitude over information. I need time to think.
Today what I really want to know is why other people do what they do, but specifically why people/women/men make art quilts or art work with a textile component.
Here’s why. I’m writing a lecture to be given alongside the current art quilt exhibition, Form Not Function, at the Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, Indiana. As preparation, I looked at the quilts in the show. Then I started looking at all kinds of art quilts in all kinds of places. Famous quilts, not so famous quilts. All of the Quilt National shows since 1999. Fascinating. Genres have definitely emerged. More on that later, after I have introduced my classifications in the lecture.
My original plan was to draw conclusions and propose goals art quilters could work toward into the future. But although I’ve worked on my ideas for several weeks almost nonstop, I find I have only observations to share.
There are some intriguing oddities in the art quilt movement.
For instance, it’s a field populated by women. There is only one man in the Form/Not Function show. In the last issue of the Surface Design Association Journal, which featured the art quilt movement, four men were included alongside twenty-four women. Neither SAQA (the Studio Art Quilt Associates) nor SDA knows for sure how many male members are enrolled, but it’s not a very large number.
This is the reverse of almost every art movement to date. Men have dominated painting from Romanticism until Now, with women making inroads, but not definitive or speedy ones. From Mary Cassatt to Georgia O’Keefe to Lee Krasner, women were the exception, not the rule. Feminism influenced this of course, but the movements associated with women who acted partly from a Feminist stance are still subjected to faint disdain as far as mainstream Art is concerned. Maybe the playing field is finally leveling among young, aspiring artists, (I haven’t researched it – anyone have personal experience with this?)
But what’s going on in the art quilt world?
I guess it’s not surprising, since sewing has always been a girl thing. But it just feels odd. On the one hand, quilt making is huge because it gives so many women a context in which to be artistic. But quilt making still isn’t mainstream art – could it be because it is primarily a female arena?
Women are by nature supportive and encouraging. Quilt guilds have flourished in part because they provide connection. Organizations like SAQA have harnessed an incredible female energy, one that continues to rise – generating shows and exposure for the membership.
That’s good. But also problematic. If we get our own little club going here, then maybe we aren’t as inclined to venture out of the comfort zone. Do we care if we never make it into the mainstream art world? Are we happy here in the textile ghetto? Would we rather not compete with each other, or with other media?
It feels itchy to me. It’s too easy to ignore the fact that some of the issues we face might be rooted in gender inequalities that aren’t yet resolved. But maybe we’re at the best party in the world, with lots of women we like, so it doesn’t matter if we’re not invited into major galleries on a regular basis, or that often our work doesn’t sell for the price a comparable painting would command.
Disclaimer: Some art quilt artists DO command comparable prices to paintings and get them. Is it unreasonable to ask whether these numbers are lower than they could be, were quilts to be more widely accepted by the art buying public?
I’ve got some observations about steps that could be taken to move more aggressively toward the mainstream market. But that’s another subject. What I really want to know right now is all about motivation.
Another concern: If art quilters are content existing in the lovely world they’ve created for themselves, will challenges to refine, strive for quality, question design, color, innovation, and/or presentation be embraced? Maybe that’s an individual decision rather than a group one.
Do you work just because you love the work?
Do you aspire to exhibit and sell your work and what does that look like? To friends? Through a gallery? Through exposure at exhibitions?
I welcome your thoughts.