Occasional Wednesday Salon

Today I want to focus on the negative, space that is. Within a few days of each other I read a post on the use of negative space category at QuiltCon West from the Plaid Portico and one on Spanish graphic designer and illustrator Jesus Perea. I was struck by many similarities between the modern quilts and Perea’s work. Let me know if you think I’m onto something or simply on something.

First, Perea’s work, which is flat out abstract and uses large blocks of color. The only information I have on him is date of birth and school degree. He sometimes works in collage, though I don’t know which of the following are collages.


JesusPereaAbstractComposition578JesusPereaAbstractComposition689JesusPereaAbstractComposition724I’d love to make these up as quilts. He’s done tons more abstracts, which you can see on his website.

Next, a few quilts from the use of negative space category at QuiltCon West.

Sunset on the Bay by Julie Smith

Sunset on the Bay by Julie Smith

Echoes by Leanne Chahley

Echoes by Leanne Chahley

Activating Space Medallion by Jacquie Gering

Activating Space Medallion by Jacquie Gering

Retroreflective by Stephanie Ruyle

Retroreflective by Stephanie Ruyle

The quilts above are similar to modern quilts made at the beginning of that movement – solid colors, large areas of negative space, and fairly basic quilting. I really like them.

Editorial carping, feel free to skip this: I find it odd that quilts with such characteristics have been bundled into their own category, while other categories such as modern traditionalism and handwork have been added. I realize that quilt shows like to spread around ribbon winning opportunities, but modern has become vastly diluted, in my opinion.



Filed under Commentary, Modern Quilting, Quilt Shows

14 responses to “Occasional Wednesday Salon

  1. Well, I don’t know about modern being “diluted”, but I’ve certainly noticed that there are many opinions about what belongs in the category. I suspect the controversy is an indicator that reputations and thus income for many people are riding on the definition. Looking around the web at quilters who call their stuff “modern”, I conclude that the real definition is, “It’s modern if I say it is”! Meanwhile, thanks for finding this artist–Ilike his work 😊

  2. I think QuiltCon and other shows that focus on “modern” quilting have had to expand the categories to get enough interest to keep them viable. It’s a pretty limiting world in it’s purest definition.

  3. Those would make really cool quilts. The third one looks like it would be fairly easy to make and quilt, but I would particularly love to see the top one as a quilt. Maybe with a combination of thread and paint?

    • As tempting as it is to make these in cloth, I’d get the artist’s permission first and, if a fee would be involved, I might rethink it. I’ve become more sensitive about using someone else’s work after a dust up a friend had on the issue.

      • Yes, those things can be quite sensitive and messy. Though I can understand at one level, it makes things very complicated and seems the wrong spirit for creation.

      • I’ve made only one piece from someone’s art and the artist was gracious about giving me permission. I think the main issue arises when a quilter passes off another’s design as her own or doesn’t acknowledge the design’s source. I’m not going near copyright infringement.

  4. Negative space is another concept, like “modern quilting,” that seems to be poorly defined. The simple use of solid backgrounds seems insufficient in providing negative space, but that seems to be how it is used in many of the quilts shown. For me, the ones that are most intriguing (regardless of definition) are those wherein my eye/mind fill the background with shape, which otherwise doesn’t exist. For example, in Sunset above, there are circles that exist within the background at the upper left of the composition. Echoes does that for me in a lesser way. Maybe the critical aspect of negative space is that it does not merely provide background for “the design” but is part of the design. ?? just thinking out loud…

    • To quote from Wikipedia, “Negative space, in art, is the space around and between the subject(s) of an image. Negative space may be most evident when the space around a subject, not the subject itself, forms an interesting or artistically relevant shape, and such space occasionally is used to artistic effect as the “real” subject of an image.” I interpret this to mean that negative space can be the background, but is meaningful, in a design sense, when it adds to the design. And I assume that the category selection for QuiltCon was chosen by the quilt maker.

  5. Doreen

    The Activating Space looks like one of your recent drawings.

  6. You know that I know nothing about so-called modern quilting but I do like bold, graphic designs and blocks of color–I agree that any of Pera’s designs would make a spectacular quilt!

    • You’ve put your finger on what attracted me to modern quilting and what may be at the root of my disappointment with recent modern quilting. I too like bold, graphic designs and large swaths of color.

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