Thursday, December 15, 2011

a good holiday gift

Artists' visions and techniques are a constant fascination, and are the focus of Martha Sielman's  Masters: Art Quilts, Volume 2.

Most compilations of this genre frustrate the reader by offering two or three major works. Not so here. One can linger over page after page of each of the 40 artists' work, including detail photos.

Curator Martha Sielman, Executive Director of Studio Art Quilt Associates, said in an interview that Lark Publication Masters Series sets the parameters for these books. Sielman was limited to 40 artists, only half of whom could be from America, due to the international nature of the field and marketing considerations.

This was a challenge for Volume 1 in the series, as Sielman felt she was not sufficiently familiar with international art quilters' work, but she elicited recommendations from leaders in the art quilt world, and then had to whittle down her list from an initial 200 she considered. Invited artists were asked to submit around 20 pieces for consideration, and were encouraged to include an iconic piece,  a piece important to the artist, and pieces that had received awards or special recognition.

Sielman ranked these works, looking for art that "stuck with her," that grabbed her each time she revisited it. She submitted her lists to Lark Publications, and final decisions were made by the art department, focusing in part on whether the works would look good in print.

An exhibit based on the book debuted at the Houston International Quilt Festival, and this will travel to the major quilt festivals, including the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England. Additionally, each artist was asked to send in a sample piece, all of which were assembled into a scrapbook which can be touched and studied by exhibit visitors.

Sielman's introductions to each artist's work are a good read. They are not the predictable dry recounting of expected topics, but instead offer the reader a superior review of bio and technique, and more important, why each artist's work is worth a good look.

Buying the book through the SAQA website benefits that organization and offers a swell opportunity to give any art lover a terrific holiday gift.

[Lark Publications provided me a courtesy copy of this book for review.]

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