Recently I posted on the Needlepoint Nation group – one of my favorites with over 4,000 members. The needle pointers that frequent that page are so talented and so varied in their finished needlepoint projects. I admire their workmanship and creativity to say the least. It was inevitable that the question of what I call my art would come up sooner or later – and it did.
Debates like these go on in all in corners of the textile world: quilters vs. textile artists; crocheting vs. sculptural fiber art; modern quilting vs. not-modern? and of course needlepoint vs. lots of other things. My response was heartfelt and I hope helpful to those who just can’t seem to place their textile art into a specific category.
Jane Wood wrote of my recent acceptance at Xanada Studios, “Congratulations, Connie! When I read about your pieces on the website I noticed they aren’t described as needlepoint. Do you find there is a prejudice against things labeled that way? Or did someone else do the blurbs?”
I responded, “I wrote everything on my website and I think my statement on my home page says it clearly, ‘My medium preserves the ancient art of needlepoint and makes it relevant to today’s collectors of contemporary abstract fiber art. I use needlepoint as keywords throughout my site as well as in my artist statement. But I am trying to position my work in the fiber art world to broaden the appeal of my work to all kinds of collectors. My stitches will never match the quality of those marvelous needle pointers who express themselves in perfect stitches. I am more about the expression of my art and I happen to love stitching needlepoint canvas and using died and painted threads as my medium. Your question was a good one!”
I read that many needle workers concern themselves with putting their craft into a firm category. I guess that’s so their work can be judged properly.
And I also see many successful artists who don’t concern themselves with that at all. They simply enjoy what they are doing.
The bravery of those who disregard the norms and cross over into other territories without the need for labels or rules are to be congratulated. They may never win prizes, however. It takes confidence to face the judges and be judged by those who have no clue what you are about. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a place to exhibit our work without being judged on how our “backs” look? (I’m smiling because the back of my work really looks terrible); and wouldn’t it be inspirational just to see an exhibit that grabs our imaginations and broadens our needlepoint expression without judges turning over our work?
The craftsmanship and imagination of other needleworkers always keeps me energized and inspired, whether they call it needlepoint or fiber art.