On the Wall

FAVA

My quilt “Nan” was included in the long running and prestigious exhibition:

“Artist” as Quiltmaker XVIII” in Oberlin Ohio.   

The exhibition is very competitive and this year was juried by Emily Zilber; a curator at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I received the Kirtz/Van Nortwick Award and an image of my quilt was used in the promotional poster.

The opening was May 12th and the show will run through July 29 2018.


Going to see art at exhibition is a learning opportunity

Seeing the actual art quilt on the wall allows me to to explore another artist’s technique and materials. By getting up close I can make an educated guess about the process. If I am lucky the artist is also attending the opening providing me a unique opportunity to listen to an artist talk about their own studio practice. I eavesdrop on other art quilters attending an opening. They always  have interesting insights into materials and construction.

Work that is presented in a gallery setting with good lighting and hung by professional gallery staff helps me to compare and contrast work in the same medium. I look at the scale of pieces presented, the genres (abstract, figurative, landscapes, conceptual, political, etc.) and level of technical mastery. Seeing which pieces were hung together as a small “collection” helps me see the visual connections from professionals point of view.

Unlike quilts shows, art quilts presented in a gallery setting are selected by a juror to present to an audience. The juror selects work that will “engage” an audience. As I tour the show I try to determine what drew the eye of juor to this quilt. I look  at overall composition and for quilts that are out of the ordinary.

As headed home, during a long day at a couple of airports, I read the catalogue. The catalogue includes a juror’s statement, a curator’s statement and statements from each artist. I read these carefully. Some artists in this exhibition used the statement to take me to another level of understanding of their submission and their larger body of work.

The last thing I look at are the photographs. There was a mixed bag of professional photographs and artist’s taking their own photographs. Each photograph was very high quality; however a photograph can never replace  see the actual work on the wall.


Until Next Time......
Margaret

 

SAQA Conference

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This year I went to the SAQA conference in San Antonio. The hotel was on the famous river walk. I came home with many steps on my fitbit, wonderful pictures and with valuable information to help me improve as an artist and art quilter.

During the conference I signed up to have a critique done by Sandra Sider. Sandra has an impressive resume as an academic, curator and artist. The critique session was held in a large room open to conference attendees. Participants brought a quilt and asked for feedback. Both Sandra and the audience provided specific,helpful and thoughtful advice.

I learned so much from this experience. Sandra was able to share how a juror selects a quilt for an exhibition. Jurors look at a small image sent to them digitally. The quality of that image is crucial to even being considered for inclusion in an exhibition.

  • According to Sandra, contrast is key. A image that has little or no contrast risks being overlooked. 
  • Artists should photograph a 12 x 12 inch section of their quilt in an area that will show the juror a process or a variety of techniques. 
  • Titles that are long or complex won't impress anyone; including the juror.
  • Use the artist statement to make clear to the juror what they are seeing and how your quilt connects to the theme.

I brought a recently completed quilt of my daughter Jana. The initial portrait was taken with a cellphone. It had not be selected for a particular venue and I wanted to find out how the composition could be improved.

Both Sandra and the audience had lot's of positive feedback and a few very good suggestions. When I got home I got out my paint brush. The neck needed a little more shadow below the chin. I added this and toned down the area which included a tattoo of a bird. Although I made little changes; after taking new photographs, I believe they improved my chances for being accepted in the next venue.

If you are a SAQA member, I recommend trying to attend a conference. The experience will help you improve as an artist and allow you to meet some amazing people.

Until Next Time.....

New Directions

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Since my last post I have had a series of four rejections to quilt shows. This has made me rethink my focus on building my resume. As I looked over the list of calls for entry I did not get into, I came up with a couple of insights.

After looking at the work accepted to these exhibits;  it was clear that two of the exhibitions "favored' abstract or abstracted compositions. These shows also focused on artists who have a experimental approach to materials. My work was not a good fit because it is figurative and more closely associated with traditional art mediums (photography and painting) .

The other two exhibitions asked entrants to respond to a specific theme. Of the work I have seen accepted into these shows, it was clear my submissions were out of sync - a little too edgy or provocative. I also was creating something for the show and not pulling something from my portfolio to enter. This is a mistake I have made before and yet I did it again!

As luck would have it, a good friend and fellow artist came to visit. We had a great time visiting Kenyatta Art Village and  some local galleries downtown.

She explained how she was heading in a new direction with her art business. Her plan was to limit her teaching schedule to spend more time creating for a studio sale with a few other artists. After sale is over, she will work on becoming  a member of local gallery or co-op.

 

Now I have a new direction.

  • Target my submissions to limited number of exhibitions. This will allow me more studio time to focus on creating.  Then I focus my efforts of finding somewhere locally to sell my work. 

Until next time.....
Margaret

 

 

 

Needle and Thread

Last time I wrote, I was excited about a trip to the "Road to California" quilt show in Ontario California.

This experience helped my broaden my view of creative expression. There is great value in understanding the rationale behind  quilt show judging.

Judges at quilt shows use a rubric to evaluate all kinds of quilts. A rubric is a concrete and consistent list of expectations for performance. (stitches consistent length, the number of stitches per inch, the composition and execution  meets the expectations of the category, etc.).

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I have been in the "no rules" camp for so long that I did not realize how much those rules can help expand creative opportunities.

The single comment made by the judge at this show was "thread tension" . A short to the point comment was a gift. It gave me an opportunity to grow as an artist and craftsman.

As I walked through the vendor market I started to focus on thread. We create line, pattern, change color and value by using thread. Thread can be an embellishment or a drawing tool.

Needle and thread is going to be a new focus for me. I want to embroider, improve my skill on my mid arm machine, practice traditional motifs and learn to use those rulers.

I am also starting to collect resources to help me learn like the websites "Needle and Thread"  and Handi Quilters Youtube channel "Sweet 16 Sundays"

Wish me luck!

Until next time...
Margaret

Road to California

Last month I got a chance to attend the "Road to California" quilt show. The show is an annual event in Ontario California.

I had a quilt on display in the human figure category. It was the first time I entered a traditional quilt show. 

As an art quilter, I have been devoting time to exhibitions which are either open ended or have a specific theme  like diaspora, our gun culture or metamorphosis. I entered on a whim my quilt "Swing".  My goal was to better understand how these venues determine winners, provide feedback and what the value would be for an art quilter like me to enter these kind of shows in the future. 

By the end of two days at the show I learned that I needed to improve my technical skills and rethink what might be a better fit using my current technique. I am even thinking of making a a more traditional quilt to enter in next's years show. 

The big surprise I had was how much I loved looking at vendors. These entrepreneurs offered a wide variety products. What stuck me was that they were fantastic creativity coaches. 

My favorite vendor was the "French General". The store located in Los Angeles displayed everything needed to start an embroidery project. Just looking at the booth ideas poured into me head and the staff was welcoming. Not pushy or elitist. Just the right balance.

I bought a hoop, small scissors (I planed to buy these) and a tea towel kit without stitch instructions! The staff me permission  to just do my own thing - perfect an out of the box person like me. 

Until next time...
Margaret