Last week I was in Russia, where my textile group Art-igra held the first ever exhibition. The group includes quilters from Russia and Ukraine, the goals are to enhance creativity and help the members to find their own voice of self-expression. The exhibition wasn't big but got a lot of enthusiastic response. In comparison with the rest of the world, there are no internet groups of this kind in Russia. Our next exhibition is planned for august 2013, I suggested a new theme -Emotional Intelligence for the whole year, meaning that the next four works will have one underlying idea-expressing emotions, the first work- "Jealousy" is due end October.
The festival itself is a self-proclaimed art-quilt festival. The selection of competition quilts was quite thought-provoking. The theme of the contest -"female soul" embraced all the facets of women's crafts but didn't show the individual soul of a quilt-maker. Some rare examples of personal expression not connected with the idea of "being Russian" or " I wish I were a 19th century lady with a lace umbrella" were criticized by jury members for not observing the laws of Applied Arts. It seemed that strong personal emotion, troubled soul or nervous breakdown were not welcome as theme of the quilt in general. "Much too depressing, too many realistic details together with stylized background, stay within the Applied Arts aesthetics"-those were the often given comments.
The discrepancy between the Art-quilt direction of the festival and Applied Arts limitations seems to bring misunderstanding and confusion to the public and participants. The organizers even admitted that the technical quality of the quilt is not important for them, stressing that they invite art-quilt to participate. No wonder that in Russia "art-quilt" is strongly associated with poor quality, raw edges, untidiness, bulky shape.
Some disagreements with the approach of the jury and organizers doesn't mean that there were no beautiful examples of craftsmanship. I just hoped to see more individual "female soul" expressions.