Text Messages: Juror's and Curator's Statements
I have been texting on textiles for over twelve years. From the time I learned to string letters into words and words into stories, text has become a way for me to design my thoughts as well as my art. I love wordplay, alliteration, letterforms, fonts and weaving words together. Imagine my delight to be asked to jury this show.
The quilts submitted for Text Messages were the ultimate weaving together of text and textile. I’ve always been a sucker for anything with text on it, so I’ll be honest and say I loved them all.
Text appears in this show in a variety of ways: commercial fabric, handwritten, screen, printed and transferred. Artists drew their ideas and designs from graffiti, photograph notations, love letters, ancestor letters, hieroglyphs and their own journals. They referenced family, technology, the personal, and the universal.
Art speaks to us on many levels. In many cases, the message on the quilt was loud and clear, as in Judy Sebastian’s OMG, a popular word in our new texting lexicon and Stop Fear (Homage to Sister Corita Kent) by Susie Monday. Corita Kent was my first exposure to text messages. She gained international fame for her vibrant serigraphs which used text as art and art as activism, during the 1960s and 1970s. That Susie was paying homage to her 40+ years later is testament to the power of text as art.
What struck me as I first looked at all of the submissions was how, together, they comprised a history of text. This became my guiding light as I worked to choose quilts for the show. From the first Caveman Txts linoprinted by Helen Bevan, Charlotte Ziebarth’s use of digital art to recreate ancient text in Messages in the Stones, Shannon M. Conley’s exquisite in nomine Patris tribute to early illuminated manuscripts, to the well conceived The World’s First Text Message (1844) by Connie Rohman, the show began to take shape as a mini history of text messaging.
Art is a form of communication. Text Messages is art about communication. In addition to selecting works that illustrated a history of text messaging I focused on the visual impact of the quilt. In an art show, but especially an art quilt show, you want to see something new that excites, that will draw you in, up close and personal. Once you get there, you want to see that the workmanship is spot on. The 34 selected works fulfill these expectations.
My thanks go to Studio Art Quilt Associates for selecting me as juror for Text Messages. Special thanks to Gigi Kandler, who did an amazing job at both curating and communicating and making this a very smooth process.
I know the amount of time, dedication and care that goes into creating a quilt, especially one that needs to be submitted on a deadline and then (OMG) judged! My deepest thanks to everyone who put themselves out there. Whether your quilt was selected or not, you have created something wonderful - the best text message you will ever send.
"Text messages have fast become one of the most popular methods of communication in our country today. In this exhibit, you have free rein to explore the many facets of what ‘text messages’ means to you—from the obvious connection to modern technology, to works comprised solely of actual or implied writing. The unifying theme will be text on quilts, in any language, and each quilt must contain at least one visible letter or word."
When I was invited to curate Text Messages and read that concept, I was hooked. What a wonderful wide-open invitation to create. I knew SAQA members would take the idea to amazing creative levels, and I have not been disappointed. They took text messages in every direction imaginable. We had 112 entries which were whittled down to 34. I did not envy the juror's selection task – it had to be difficult.
It is fascinating that techniques as old as the hills can meet the electronic age with such wonderful results. Quilting has been around forever, and text messaging is new on the scene. Fabric meets the electron. It is a wonderfully diverse collection of work.
My thanks to the people who supported and mentored me through my first experience as a curator – Leni Wiener, Peg Keeney, Martha Sielman, Lisa Ellis, Deidre Adams, and Bill Reker. And thanks to juror, Lesley Riley, as well. It was a wonderful experience to work with her.
Curator, Text Messages