By: Heather Cadogan
This paper examines the way in which artistic value is assigned to objects, specifically focusing on Amish quilts made between the years 1890 and 1940. Created as utilitarian objects and made almost exclusively by women, they are now viewed as artistic creations and have been compared with abstract paintings of the twentieth century, to which they are visually similar.
This paper compares the two and finds that while Amish quilts and abstract art share many aesthetic similarities and some similarities in philosophical origin, the significant differences in the processes of creation lead to another interesting question. That is the question of how artistic value should be judged, and whether using the criteria traditionally applied to “high art” as the standard for judgement may unfairly ignore many valuable aspects of “folk art,” quilts and objects created in entirely different ways.