By: Clover Nolan Williams
It has become commonplace in folklore studies of the past thirty years to assert that one cannot study folklore without a sense of its meaning in context. The Bloomington Quilters Guild reminds us all that context and meaning are not singular, but always consist of interrelated contexts and meanings.
As they are used by quilters, the terms “art” and “tradition” question benefits conferred upon quilters by an academic system of bestowing honor. Certainly the Smithsonian Institution and Mrs. Lipman enliven the art with both their attentions and their money only an independently wealthy quilter would reject that. But while some find satisfaction in this, others do not. For many quilters the problem lies not in the honors they are accorded by the art world, but in the price extracted, and in other honors which they feel they are thereby denied. By accepting outside standards of validations, traditionalists may lose the measure of self-determination that comes from judging their own works according to their own values.