It's outside of the quilting world, too, with Target showing us "Fresh, Modern" palettes in everything from their towels to drink cups. As if the year 2013 invented the color orange, thereby making it "modern."
It's even at antique shops, where "upcycling" has become the way to "modernize" everything from barn doors to yellowed books to glass jars. I've even done a little upcycling myself, as evidenced by my-library-card-catalog-turned-quilting-tools-holder.
|File that under "C" for "Things that can Cut you badly."|
A lot of it I really love, but I shudder when I see people painting a gorgeous piece of furniture from 1862 and then "distressing" it for that "modern" feel (Begging the question - is distressed the way we are all supposed to feel in 2013?); having once stained an early 1800s desk the wrong color only to be told by an appraiser I had just "ruined all of its value," I can't even go there in my mind.
With that said, if you are just arriving to check out my blog today during a break from painting your grandmother's china hutch teal.....um.....welcome! It's no secret that I don't keep my feelings to myself, but I always respect the rights of everyone to do as they see fit in life even if I couldn't do it myself, and a teal china cabinet is no exception. You know without a doubt I applaud the color choice in any case. But overall, let's be honest, I'm over this modern thing.
A couple of weeks ago designer Ebony Love went on a tear in the quilting world, calling out designers for putting out stuff that is less than stellar in the names of money, fame, fortune, and deadlines in a blog post called "The Dumbing Down of the Quilting and Sewing Industry". She'd had it up to here with poorly constructed quilts and patterns that in her mind were not worthy of industry standards, and she had no problem telling it like she saw it. My only issue with what she said was briefly worrying that she was about to kill off my "Perfection is Overrated" lecture, but since I've had a few inquiries over the past week I guess we're good, and I am confident we are both on the same page when it comes to imperfect vs a big old mess. What has made me crazy about our industry and the "Modern" movement over the last few years is along the same lines, so with Ebony having blazed the trail, I'm feeling free to share my opinions. Not that it usually takes someone else to blaze that trail, mind you. (I've linked her blog post to her name, and I encourage you to read it at your leisure.)
Modern quilting: "Many people describe it as breaking-the-rules quilting, reflecting the personality and individual style of the quiltmaker. .......... quilts which may differ from traditional quilting through new approaches to fabric combinations, piecing, construction methods, and motif quilting."
Okay. Um, hello. I've been breaking the rules and making up new piecing techniques since 2005. And not ONE person cared enough to realize I was a modern quilter when modern quilting wasn't cool. Heck, I didn't even know it! Woo hoo! I'm ahead of my time! I bet by that definition just about every one of us is a "modern" quilter. But I bet if you are to ask Susie Q. Hottie, average American quilting hottie, what she thinks of as modern, she might also add negative space, squares, circles, and and heavy machine quilting. All of which, don't get me wrong, are great elements in a design and I love them individually and together. A quick search on Pinterest for modern quilts is going to give you every one of those things in spades. (Well, actually, spades is one shape I DIDN'T see in that search, but if you find one let me know.)
But here's the thing: How many times can we as the quilting community get excited about one more quilt featuring - wait for it - squares and rectangles surrounded by white or gray? How many more times are we going to accept a design in a magazine that is basically a log cabin done in "modern" fabrics? Or ooh and ahhh over a quilt that is mostly negative space with one crazy star or hexi strategically placed? Or clamour to buy a pattern by a well known designer that we could have figured out on our own because it really is just a nine patch or churn dash or any other public domain block featuring their new fabric line?
Before anyone thinks this is sour grapes on my part because I've apparently been modern for forever and am not raking in the fame over it, consider this:
I love that this pattern has made people so happy. It makes me happy, too, because it is pretty and sweet and is accessible to every quilter no matter how newbie or advanced they may be. I love that it put me on the map a bit in this industry. And as much as I want to be able to just bask in that, I can't get beyond the fact that it is a ridiculous pattern, and one that I believe is popular only because of that "modern" element. And that feels a little bit like selling out, and that makes me die a little inside.
I've never been one to design for the masses; I design what I love and if the pattern catches on, I'm thrilled. I truly believe that there is a place in our industry for all kinds of designs, and as fun as it is to catch a wave of a fad like this quilt did for me, from here on out, I renew my vow to design from the heart, not from the whims of the industry, as I truly believe my designs are better when they are more me and less trend, and I hope a few of you might agree. I can't expect the rest of the industry to follow, but I know I will feel better about what I am putting out there.
I'm going to call it my "Post Modern" era.