Crazy Art

In the mid-1970s, fine artists such as Miriam Schapiro and Joyce Kozloff responded to and reacted against male-dominated Modernism by referencing women's crafts in their paintings, collages, and installations. This explicitly feminist effort was labeled the Pattern and Decoration movement and the resulting work—especially Schapiro's "femmage," which incorporated both painting and sewing—often resembled the mixed-media, richly-decorated surfaces of Crazy quilts. Rather than rejecting the sumptuousness and sensuality of women's traditional textile work, these artists exploited it to make the point that minimalism and abstraction—which were the dominant fine art modes at the time—were not the only legitimate forms of expression.

Taking the lead from the Pattern and Decoration movement, a notable number of early studio art quilters embraced the Crazy quilt aesthetic, including Terrie Hancock Mangat and Susan Shie, both of whom layered and encrusted much of their work made in the 1980s with embroidery, paint, and three-dimensional embellishments such as buttons and crystals.

Using layers of worn fabrics, British artist Mandy Pattullo references Crazy quilts with her use of embroidery and appliqués as surface decoration in her textile collages. A native New Zealander now living in London, Lauren Shanley also works within a Crazy-style format, creating fabric collages that she tranforms into interior design and fashion objects.