Why Quilts Matter – Question & Answer with Martha Sielman
Our Why Quilts Matter – Discussion Guide Q&A series continues by taking a look at Episode 6: How Quilts have been Viewed and Collected. Who better to talk about the different styles of quilting and the challenges women face in getting their work in galleries than Martha Sielman, the Executive Director of Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc. (SAQA). In addition to authoring many books on studio art quilts, Martha is the curator of Masters II – An International Quilt Event at The New England Quilt Museum.
Quilt artists seem to split into two groups: traditional quilt makers and studio art quilt makers. What are some of the ways the different groups can communicate with each other to discuss issues of importance?
What about Modern Quilt Guild members? New England Quilt Museum held a panel discussion last August during the Lowell Quilt Festival. They invited me (representing art quilters), Marianne and Mary Fons (representing traditionalists), and Rachel May and Laurie Matthews (officers of Boston’s Modern Quilt Guild). The topic was “Quilting with a Crystal Ball – Where will Quilting go in the Next 50 Years?” It was a lot of fun to be on the panel and the audience seemed to really enjoy the topic.
Women have had distinct challenges over the years getting their work exhibited in both galleries and museums. Is that situation changing? Why or why not?
There are more women in all areas – now we’re going to be sending women into combat. If they can be on the front lines, they certainly can be in galleries and museums. While I do think it’s easier for men artists to be taken seriously, women are definitely being shown in more galleries and more museums than in the past.
How do you think digital technology will change quilting in the future?
I always check with my kids on this one – things are changing so fast that it’s impossible to predict what the next big thing will be.
What are some of the greatest changes you have seen in the studio art quilt movement in the past 5 years?
Growth – more and more quilters are interested in experimenting with surface design and creating their own art; Social media – quilt artists are increasingly using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. to promote their businesses; Long-arm quilting, photo transfer, slow art movement, and recycling are all growing trends.
What is next for you?
“Art Quilt Portfolio: People and Portraits” (Lark 2013) will be published in April. Studio Art Quilt Associates is sponsoring a complementary exhibition that will premiere at the International Quilt Festival in Houston and then travel around the country for the next few years. I can’t wait to see these fantastic art quilt portraits in person!
More about Martha
Martha Sielman is the author of “Masters: Art Quilts, Volumes 1 and 2” (Lark Books, 2008; 2011), “Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World” and “Art Quilt Portfolio: People and Portraits” (Lark 2012; 2013). She is the founder of “Fiber Revolution,” a northeast art quilt exhibition group. Sielman also lectures frequently on art quilts. More information and a calendar of events can be found at Martha’s website and Studio Art Quilters Associates.