Thursday, September 21, 2006

Stacks Q&A

The first Stack quilt

Dear Melody,

I have been reading your blog and have really enjoyed it. I love your work - the dyed fabrics and great designs make me have chills all over (in a good way!). I have been looking at the things you have posted in your "stacks" series and I was just wondering what you had in mind when you create them. I mean, do you having anything in mind at all?

Sometime you read these blurbs that artists put on their work and they'll say something like " the line symbolizes the ocean and the dot signifies the earth mother and the small square is God" or something equally deep andI think, well, it's pretty but I'm not getting it.

I guess what I am trying to ask is, when you make a stack and it is abstract and not obviously a flower or whatever, are you just putting fabric together until it pleases you or are you thinking deep thoughts? I personally don't ever think deep thoughts and I feel bad about it - sometimes I just make things I like and am happy about that, but thenI think maybe I'm not a "Real" artist because I don't have a vision. What about you? (whatever you're doing, keep it up - it's all yummy)

Dear Not a Real Artist,

What is this vision thing you reference? Never heard of it...

Stack #13 August 15,2006
17"x17" Fused Cotton and Silk. Machine Quilted

This Stack business is all about just stacking up fabrics until they form a nice pile. Then I have a cleaned-off table and can do something really artistic. In the meantime while I am waiting for that art to magically appear, I busy myself with fusing the pile of fabric into a quilt. I call it a Stack so as not to confuse the viewer into thinking that it is designed or anything.

I don't have a plan, other than to lay one piece on top of another. If that is a vision, you couldda fooled me.

Artists who have that grand vision and have to tell you what it is because it is not obvious in the art are full of whooey and need a blog desperately. Don't be taken in by them. If you have to explain the vision, it ain't there in the art.

Stack #12 August 11,2006
Hand dyed cottons, fused, hand and machine quilted. 24.5x25"

Catalog description: Here we have another pile of fabric by Melody Johnson, same as the previous piles, only in different colors. She manages to combine these fabrics in such a way as to make them look random. Genius! And with such deft skill that they actually look two dimensional. If it weren't for the texture of the quilting one would think they were photos of fabric.

(I am yawning already).

This initial series piece is obviously paying homage to the Amish tradition, one in which Ms. Johnson must have deep regard, as she has translated it into her version of the classic Stack. (urp)

Each color chosen with symbolic meaning: the green of the deep forests left behind in the old world, the blood of the slain oxen, the deep blue of the night in which the sect retreats from worldly behaviors. And the tantalizing turquoise which hints at the wild yearnings of the heart.

Stacked Series #1 Completed May 23, 2006
Hand dyed Cottons, fused and machine quilted.
30" at the top by 34" long.

O Please!


  1. "Artists who have that grand vision and have to tell you what it is because it is not obvious in the art are full of whooey and need a blog desperately"

    THANK YOU, thank you thank you for saying this! In the back of my brain I've always felt bad about not "saying" anything with the things I create. I create for the fun of creating and because to create with fiber gives me pleasure. and now I can say whooey to the rest of them !

    p.s. love your blog and your work!

  2. diane9:05 AM

    I love "tantalizing turquoise" but mostly I love you, your art, and your sense of humor! This blog just made my day. But, gee, those poor oxen!

    Thanks for starting my day with a giggle and a great big smile! It's great to know that while your talent is huge, you don't bother with the hoity toity stuff!

  3. You mean you are actually making things and your mind is blank? Wow! Just like me!

  4. Brilliant! I wanna be just like you!

  5. Anonymous9:29 AM

    You too funny!

  6. Mechelle9:48 AM

    Geesheeh - I feel soooo much better - I thought I was shallow because I don't have a "vision" - I just like things because I like them - no explaination, and I don't have the answer to why......Guess I am OK!!

  7. RIGHT ON! Long live 'Art for Art's Sake'!!!!

  8. Whooey? Is that an artistic term which is so technical I have missed it somewhere? You are too too funny!
    By the way... can you believe I missed Project Runway last night. Can you tell me who won? I saw the collections and have picked my own choice... but ... I can't believe I missed it!!! I know you were watching it with Tommy, but she is on California time now.

  9. Long time reader (at least two weeks), first time poster. LOVE TODAY'S POST! For the same reason the title "Mambo #5" is genius - Love the tune, love the art, could care less about what I'm "supposed" to feel. :)

  10. Melody, this post is going to make me think on how or if I'm as free with myself as I desire to be with my quilting.

  11. Anonymous10:48 AM

    Thank you for saying all that. I too have struggled with the fact that I make what I make for the sake of making it and not from any deep search for truth and justice. Thought I was shallow for years because I preferred dancing to a different drummer.
    Love you, love your work. DP's are in the mail.

  12. I've had that question for a long time...Can't it just be pleasing to the eye?
    Thanks for the validation, and the humor and the inspiration!

  13. Anonymous11:37 AM

    The Art Quote of the Day is perfect for today's comments. Good job.

  14. Oh please provide the link to the BS generator - a (very) few of us may need it soon.

  15. Someone who graduated with a master's degree in art once told me that in school they actually taught her how to write those "deep and profound" artist's statements that make it sound like the artist had that vision of which you speak. The theory is that potential art buyers need the "whooey" to justify a potential purchase. The catalog description of your stack quilt reminded me of her words. Did they actually teach you how to talk like that in school?????

  16. I have always thought I was an "artist without vision". It is nice to know I am not alone.

    My husband is an "artist with vision" also know as a "design engineer". The smallest degree of measurment matters.

  17. Janice2:39 PM

    Ohmigawd, I'm dying over here! Laughing so-o-o hard. I create so I can have a break from all that deep thinking and stress in the world. I actually had a neighbor (snooty artist) comment on one of my quilts. "That's quite wonderful, what was your inspiration?" "I needed something that size to fill that space on the wall and I like those colors together." She looked at me like I had spinach in my teeth.

  18. I was having a really crap day till I read your blog.

    Thank you for the therapy.

  19. Anonymous3:31 PM

    Melody--You have, in this blog entry, given me, and anyone who is interested in doing so, to create exactly what pleases us. I also always wondered why I had none of the "vision" that everyone talked about, and therefore, thought I had no business just having fun with fabric. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!! Jan

  20. Anonymous4:12 PM

    ahem. seriously,she said looking down her nose at the "artist", what really was the inspiration?

  21. Art Critisism has always been tough for me. Why wasn't the artist just painting/drawing/sculpting what was pleasing to him/her without a reason or meaning? My skepticism to art crit was always much like my skepticism to literature crit; Was the creator of the work thinking that in future years, viewers/readers will ask "What was really meant by this or that statement/topic/color/brush stroke etc". Just as Candice said, "Art for Art's sake" not social commentary.
    But if it is that's okay too!

  22. too funny! Who ever said there needed to be a reason to create art. phffft. It is a compulsion. and rules are for non artists types who need em.

  23. 25 Comments! Obviously, I aint gonna say anything new, here.

    I laughed a lot.

  24. Me too. Nuff said.

  25. This is a hilarious post, and I am so glad that you wrote it. I always thought art was about beauty, but it seems now that it has to be about symbolism, and now lately it is about expressing emotion. Sometimes it just is putting different colors together in a way that pleases you.

  26. isn´t that actually redundant to explain why are is created? Well.. ehhh.. art is created for.. the creation of art? hmm.. it´s more of a pleonasm like "free gift" or "tuna fish" :-D
    So please keep on creating whatever it is they might call it - I like it.. lol

  27. I'm glad you had such a wonderful response to your post. I have often wondered, since when art had to 'mean' something? I make art just for the love of it and I hope to make art that gives someone pleasure to look at it.

  28. I think everything has been said in the wonderful response to your post, I just think, thank god I am not alone

  29. Oh well, after 31 comments, what could I say that would be new? Unless that I am very glad to have found the link to your blog on Sonji's blog. Here is an artist that does not only know her art but is also great at word play! Loved your artistic comments on your own stack quilt...
    By the way, I absolutely fell in love with stack # 13. Do you sell these, and how much would they be? (Please keep in mind that I am a budding artist with a less than budding sales rate...) ;-)

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