“Every generation wants to believe it has broken with the past. When we praise art as modern we’re saying it seems urgent and meaningful to us now – and that can be as true of a cave painting as a Damien Hirst vitrine.” – Jonathan Jones, Art Critic
This quote perfectly captures the spirit of what is meant by the word “Modern” in the name The Modern Quilt Guild. Modern quilting is quilting in a style that seems “urgent and meaningful to us now”. This statement resonates deeply with the majority of those who identify with the modern quilting movement.
Modern quilting is not radically different than traditional quilting but, it is a progression, a next step in the evolutionary development. It respects the craft and history of traditional quilts and the quilters who made them. A modern quilter will incorporate the parts of traditional quilting that works for him or her and the parts that don’t will be molded and formed into something that does.
If you think about it “modern quilting” in any time reflects quilting that is urgent and meaningful at that time. (An interesting Google search is to look at articles with the term “modern quilting” in them. You’ll find many articles over the last century! Fun!)
Many “modern” quilt patterns originate from traditional patterns, some of them over 200 years old:
The nine patch is said to have been created as early as the year 1800.
The log cabin pattern was developed sometime between 1810 and 1830.
Hexagon quilts became popular around the Great Depression but, may have originated as early as the 18th century.
Picnic quilts were popular in the 1970’s, sometimes made of simple 6″ squares.
Check out this book cover from a book released in the 1970’s – the time period of the last big quilting resurgence. The title? It’s “Modern” Patchwork of course!
Some quilt designs even transcend time and reflect our current “modern” aesthetic. Immediately the quilts from the amazing ladies at Gee’s Bend come to mind. And we can’t forget the “modern” beauty of many of the Amish quilts.
So, modern quilting is just about quilting in a way that reflects you, the modern quilter. It is a style of quilting that reflects your life, your aesthetic, and sometimes your general approach to the world. Mary Lee Bendolph, one of the famed Gee’s Bend quilters says it best, “I never try to quilt altogether like anybody. . . It’s better if you do what you are supposed to do than to try and copy somebody else.”
Thanks to all of you who participated in the discussion and we look forward to molding this Modern Quilting movement with each of you.