The dictionary gives these definitions.
"of or relating to the present or recent times, as opposed to the remote past"
synonyms: contemporary, present, current
"belonging to or occurring in the present"
synonyms: modern, current, present day
(and for a full comparison)
" existing in or as part of a tradition, long established"
synonyms: customary, time-honored, established, classic
I grew up in a household, where my mother was college-educated with a sickening love of art. My passions of art were rather limited to just the bronze Degas ballerina statues and Monet, but she had bookshelves of art plate books, and knowledge of many painters. I knew and heard terms like modern and contemporary to be used interchangeably. So recently upon hearing that something made to be "modern" was really viewed as being more "contemporary", I immediately made that scrunched face look, and pondered how this could be.
When we look at discussions and photos of modern and contemporary home (both interior and exterior), they appear quite similar. Question: Does it need to look space-age to really appear modern? Or are the sleek lines, (ok, no Queen-Anne's styling here!) and color-block attempts at design enough? Here is a website I perused. Seriously, they debate the possible differences, where they apply to interior design, and it is a fine line at best.
Again, I am not trying to rock any boats or stir trouble -- just looking for insight and understanding.
The real test of this discussion, as I am sure you are gathering, relates to quilts....this one specifically.
- unexpected (in use of color or design)
- quilting that ignores the piecing, as in an overlay style
- use of gridwork and geometric elements
Most importantly, and opposed to traditional, modern is a definition that each and every quilter is allowed to somewhat define for themselves. Your modern is not identical to someone else's. It's a personal journey we can take to deviate where we see fit.
I am a self-professed traditional quilter. It is a style I gravitate towards, and do love and appreciate. I adore the old blocks and stars that have been used in quilts for hundreds of years. But by the same token, I also appreciate many of the current fabric trends, and like to see them in quilts. As a hired quilter, I get to play on client quilts of all styles. I have had my hand in many modern undertakings. This was my turn to make my own modern creation.
Two months ago, I showed this quilt. I discussed much of the rationale that I used when it was made in this post. It is free-pieced. Mind you it is curves (not that this is excluded!), and then I trimmed them to creating blocks of a similar size. Each block is different. I know that if I left my blocks all different sizes and somehow got them to fit together (as in this example) there might be less discussion about if this type background is modern or not. But I did not. This is MY Modern. I feel that I am free to take bits and pieces of what is interpreted as modern and make MY quilt. Notice I didn't take a lot of white fabric either. Some things just appear out of place. Other aspects of modern that I find appealing which I used include the asymmetric borders. I love the depth of the darker and much wider bottom border, juxtaposed by the narrower ones on the top and sides. The applique is graphic. While somewhat still of a realistic shape, it is done in a colorblock method, so each leaf is of 2 colors. Two unexpected colors. Blue. I know that this is not the modern quilt typically in people's minds, with 4 Kona squares of different bold colors and a white background. It is my interpretation. To conclude this discussion, I want to lastly mention the quilting. As a machine quilter, this is naturally an important area to me. I knew when I was designing this quilt that it would have a more graphic style of quilting. It is suited to the overlay style, rather than a traditional approach. I chose to quilt sections with graphic parallel lines and on-point grids. It is effective, and is opposite to what anybody would expect to be on a traditional quilt. While I could have avoided the serpentine leafy-feathers that meander through the leaves, I made this different. They are not round-lobe feathers, as traditionalists use. They are in keeping with the design. While they may not be what every modern quilter might stitch, Angela Walters has stated previously that even she finds feathers to be a highly effective method to convey movement, even on modern quilts.
All of this discussion and justification doesn't change anything. My quilt shown above "Shenandoah Falling" went to MQX, and though it did judge well enough to earn a ribbon, it was disqualified, so it comes home with nothing. It was deemed "too contemporary". I thought the modern movement was about pushing boundaries in quilting, making modern become "your modern", adapting the characteristics of modern quilting that fit you and designing from there.
I am not sour about this, please don't misunderstand this post. I earned top ribbons on all of my other quilts, and Shenandoah Falling has already earned a Best Wall Quilt at another show this winter. I know it will show well at others too. I don't need to nor want to stir issues with the judges either. I respect them, like them, and know some. When you chose to enter a show, you have to accept what they will give you for comments/scores even if you disagree. And I do. I just want others to chime in. Modern quilt categories are new to many quilt shows, and still need some refining in what is allowed to be accepted. The allowed design aesthetic is somewhat vague. It is not like other categories which specifically disallow such things like dis-similar color thread or metallic thread, or obviously over-the-top custom quilting.
I merely wish to push this discussion into other quilters. I have the quilt entered at several shows this year, and hope not to bring home a resume of DQ's. The machine quilting on this piece is undeniably pushed well outside of any traditional box. Why is it that if a quilter makes a quilt without huge spans of white or battle-ship gray fabric, it isn't really making a modern quilt?
I love your comments on this. I don't want modern to be limited by just the small, narrow view of modern that was started by Denyse Schmidt. It is an evolving art, as art always has been. Somehow, quilts such as mind ought to be accepted on the modern artistic merits I chose to include. In a show where 67% of my score is based on the quilting, it wasn't allowed. The editor of a modern quilting magazine has already stated that she'd put this quilt in her magazine, so where should the line be?
Thoughts? I won't be offended. I am looking for insight. I realize that I have pushed the modern envelope somewhat, but this is My Modern. It doesn't have to be your's. That is the beauty and difference in Modern. Traditionalists are not so lucky.