Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book Review: Masters Art Quilts, vol. 2

Several months ago, I submitted my name as a potential reviewer for Master Art Quilts, Vol. 2.  I had enjoyed the first volume and really wanted a crack at the second.  Then I forgot about it.  So when this beautiful book arrived, I was as surprised as if someone had sent me an unexpected gift.  And truly, it is a gift.

Published by Lark Crafts and curated by Martha Sielman, this book is 400 pages of art quilts with something for almost every artistic taste.  There are abstract quilts, representational (though not necessarily realistic) quilts, quilts using only fabric and quilts that stretch the definition of quilt itself.

Each artist was given 10 pages, with one page devoted to an artist statement.  I was not familiar with all of the artists represented here, and I enjoyed the alternating feelings of discovery for new-to-me artists (like Reiko Naganuma and Leslie Gabrielse) and reacquaintance with old favorites (Carolyn Crump and Alice Beasley).

There were, of course, others with whom I did not quite click. I appreciated being exposed to their work, admiring their technique, and understanding their inspiration, but still being left cold by the work itself.  Other artists will respond differently.  This is one of the book's strengths, presenting a wide variety of work without pushing a particular style or point of view.

The pictures are presented simply, against a white background, that makes a trip through these pages easy on the eye.  That is not to say, however, that this book is easily finished.  I read a lot, and the goal is to finish the book and find out what happens, so I approached this book in the same way. I realized, after viewing the works of about 10 artists in a row, that this can cause headaches.  Better to slow down and visit thoughtfully with one or two artists than to try to cram it all in at once.  As a quilter, I did wish for more detail pictures so that I could better see how the artist achieved a particular effect.

For me, this book is more than a compendium of art quilts -- it is a reference guide, inspiration point, and kick in the pants all at the same time.  After seeing all of the excellent work in this book, it's time to get busy myself.

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