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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Taking the Long View

Y-Bridge, Zanesville, OH from park
A great benefit of belonging to Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) is the opportunity to sit and discuss art with other members.   I especially like how quite often such discussions can change the way I look at things.  When working at the SAQA booth in Cincinnati, I had the pleasure to sit and discuss some of the work we saw at Fiber Philadelphia with Sue King and Nysha Nelson.  Both Sue and I had had similar reactions to a piece on display.  We were struck by it, but for all the wrong reasons.

I didn't see any design merit in it, and saw it as merely a gimmicky piece which stayed in your mind for negative reasons (reaction, not statement).  Nysha disagreed.  He said that he first saw it from across the room, a long view of it.  What he saw was a tree-shaped piece with an interesting play of light and darks.  It was only when he got up close to it that he realized what it was made of and some of the other details which served to put me off.

I, on the other hand, had come upon it from close quarters, and I didn't see the positive elements that Nysha did.  Well worth considering.  Certainly enlightening and I came away from that discussion with the thought that I needed to see it again, through Nysha's eyes.


Later, when I was walking through the quilts on exhibition at IQF Cincinnati, I came upon an older woman who was using her reducing glass, otherwise known as a peep-hole from a door.  I exclaimed how brilliant she was to bring it along, especially in areas where you couldn't really stand back.  She grinned and said that she really can't come to appreciate the whole quilt until she views it from far and from near.  She pointed to one quilt and told me I had to look through to see the play of light and dark.  She was so right...I wouldn't have realized how superb the quilter was at giving the piece depth without borrowing her glass because I simply couldn't get far enough away from it.

One amusing thing....the white glove lady hurried over to us and said "I'm sorry, but I have to ask this...with all the new equipment, that's not a camera is it???" We laughed and said no, and the lady explained what it was used for....and the woman had a blank face...I don't think she understood.

I, however, had my dear husband buy me one on his next visit to Lowe's....and now, for all of $3.95, I too can take the long view.

7 comments:

Del said...

Clever lady. Clever copy-cat. I think I will copy the copy-cat. It is extremely frustrating to not be able to get back far enough to see the entire quilt. I have already put a viewer on my shopping list! Thanks. Del

Dallis said...

I love this post - and the long view is important regardless of the art medium. I love the wide open spaces (when they have them) in art galleries for just this reason. And even if I could afford, I can't see a lot of art in my home as it's not spacious enough. If only I lived in a converted factory loft!

Mary Ann Littlejohn said...

I've used one of these peepholes for years. A friend has one that is inserted into a nice turned piece of wood that has finger grips turned into it.
I first bought the cheapest one at HomeDepot and knew it wasn't as good as the one above. I think I now use one that is about 3rd from lowest price. Try them out if you can. THis and my digital camera are my favorite tools in the studio.

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Great post-love your perspective (so to speak!). Food for thought.

Judy Ferguson said...

I have been a painter for about 40 years. When I fist moved into the art quilt world, I could not figure out why quilters look at everything from the close up view. When they try to do art quilts, they get caught up in so much detail that it overwhelms everything. I keep trying to get them to back away. I use the reducing glass.

jeanne Marklin said...

I love how much I learn from other SAQA members! The conversations about art, the tips I learn , the laughs we have - well worth the membership fee. Thanks for posting about this tip - I'll be heading to the hardware store soon!

Lisa Broberg Quintana said...

Thanks guys...Diana Feit emailed me and mentioned digital cameras...very useful tools, particularly for when working in the studio to check lights and darks. I find that I often still don't get far enough away when I put it on the monitor..but it is one of my favorite quilting tools. In this case, at the exhibition, we were in one of the "No photography" areas so that wouldn't have worked.

Good stuff!