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Ellen Anne Eddy
Author of Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy Fiber artist, author and teacher
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Musings: Art outside the Box:History, Herstory

Copyright 2008
Dancing in the Light 
Ellen Anne Eddy
My quilt, Dancing in the Light, is being acquired by the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY. I'm still looking behind me to see if there's another Ellen Anne Eddy somewhere they were talking to, and how I might have gotten confused.Words fail me.

It's not the first time I've had a quilt in a museum. It's not even the first quilt I've had in a permanent collection in a museum. But it's the National Quilt Museum and it's an honor past comprehension. It's a bit like being put in the Rock Music Hall of Fame, or in the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

Because of all I want for my work, your work everyone's work, I want us to be remembered.

Almost all of the innovations come from the margins. We tend to forget that. When you see Degas and Monet on coffee cups and umbrellas, you could forget how very marginal they were. You could forget that they weren't allowed show their art with other legitimate artists. They were mocked and scorned. And yet what came out of their art was the beginning of modernism. They created work the world had never seen before. Somehow, someone fell in love, bought and protected those odd paintings. Someone put their collections into museums. We would not know them now if that hadn't happened. Many Van Goghs were cut up to make shoes. But not the one's his brother Theo saved. Art is dependent on preservation.

The Art Quilt movement, to my knowledge, is unique. But it too is marginal. It began as a grass roots movement of women who simply wanted to express themselves in fabrics and quilts. And not just any women. These were almost all women past their menopause. The captions on art quilt shows have read" Not your grandmother's quilts" long enough that actually they could be your grandmother's quilts. But it's been a place where women have had their say.Not just your models and your actresses. Not just beautiful women. Not wives of powerful men. Women who've hit the strength and power of their middle lives.Women who's children have grown and gone and who have worlds of things to say. And who have found a million ways to say it in their art.

How rare is that in history? The women artists lionized in art history books are almost all exceptions. They were brave enough to play with the boys club. They were many of them marginalized out of existence only to be rediscovered in history waves of reminiscence.

I don't think I'm being melodramatic when I say that history has often forgotten her story. For every historic woman, you'll see a list of ten men. We often see their histories written as historic romance, since we don't know for sure, and that's what women do, right? I can't help but wonder how much of that is male wishful thinking. Or our own.

The National Quilt Museum, and other museums that protect, defend, define, and display women's art belie that concept. That they've chosen to include me, pleases me, honors me, and makes me feel I truly said something. But past all that, it comforts me with the voices of other women heard. We hear each other in our art. Our whispers, our moans, our cheers, our screams. In the silence of history, we're given a voice.

They tell me my quilt will probably be shown with a group of 20 quilts they've acquired to celebrate 20 years of their existence, sometime next year. You'll find it at The National Quilt Museum

215 Jefferson Street

Paducah, KY 42001-0714

(270) 442-8856


Janice Paine-Dawes said...

a well deserved honor for you! This piece is gorgeous and I'm so glad it will be shared in a permanent collection.

norma said...

Congratulations for an honor well deserved. Your work is amazing!

Carole said...

So deserved! and Congratulations!

Anita M said...

Incredible work, incredible honor and incredible musing on the subject. Thank you for all.

Roberta Ranney said...

Bravo! It is wonderful to see the importance of your work recognized in this way. You know you've been my quilting heroine for a long time. Super news!

Createology said...

Congratulations on your recognition for such an amazing piece of art. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom. Happy creating...

Sandra said...

Wow, what a fabulous honor and well deserved. Thanks for sharing your humble sense of awe. Wait until you get to see it hanging in Paducah. 2 years ago during my certified quilt appraiser testing I ran into Denise Havlan sitting in front of her quilt there. Priceless. I've seen your beautiful work in person (Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum and American Quilt Study Group auction)-- kudos. Sandra Starley

Fulvia said...

Congratulations, Ellen, for such an achievement and thank you for such a well-written post.

Marilyn Wall said...

Ellen, congratulations, I can only begin to imagine how honored you feel. You write so well about your experience.

Robbie said...

This is a WELL deserved honor!! congrats!

Robin said...

WOW! I am sure you are overwhelmed with the enormity of this honor. Enjoy it, revel in it and thank you for leading the way for the rest of us. I am so proud of you for staying true to yourself and being so humble along the way.

TomQuilts said...

Congratulations! It is a honor you most definitely deserve.

Karen S said...

Nice essay, cool quilt -- congratulations.

Rachel said...

Congratulations from a true fan. Unbeknownst (I love to use that word.) to you, you have been one of my mentors for a while now.

Gloria said...

Well deserved honor! Congratulations!! You are such a generous, helpful artist and I'm so glad you received this recognition of your marvelous art.

Lyn Wolf Jackson said...

I hope they include this post as an artist statement with your quilt when displayed. Truthfully, poetically, and beautifully expressed.

Wen Redmond said...

Truly a wonderful moment!- a step in the direction of art quilts being accepted for what they are- art, a unique, sculptural form of art.
A serene congratulations!

li hertzi said...

Bravo and what a wonderful wonderful thing!

American Quilter's Society said...

Congratulations! You deserve it. Can't wait to read more from you.


Roxane in Raleigh said...

So wonderful, you have earned it!!

Michelle said...

Absolutely well deserved for this work of excellence!

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