At a recent quilt guild show, a fellow quilt artist mentioned they did not join SAQA because there were "no meetings." Her expectations centered around a perception of SAQA as organization just like her local quilt guild would be if it was only made up of art quilters.
This conversation made me think more deeply about the value of the tribes that I choose to belong to and why a professional tribe is important.
We all belong to tribes. As humans we formed tribes to share work and increase security. Tribes are defined as a social construct that bonds people by something shared. A tribe could share family ties,an area of expertise or a common interest. Successful tribes provide their members something of value.
After I retired and moved to a new community I checked out organizations that I thought would be interesting. After a few misses, I discovered that my local traditional quilt guild was a wonderful tribe that helped me expand my skills and has given me the opportunity to make social connections.
My critique group is a small tribe of trusted friends who provide me with valuable feedback. Recently I helped lead an art quilt friendship group which allows me to share what I know and to learn from quilters who come from a traditional quilt background. This medium size tribe gives me the opportunity to connect with other quilters who think outside of the box.
In each of these groups I belong primarily because I found value in social interaction among people who share my passion for quilting.
A professional organization is a large tribe that provides value to its’ members by promoting the an area of expertise or a discipline. Members of professional organizations get access to the latest information in their field. Most professional organizations have a conference where members outside a local community can network and keep update with current trends.
The primary role of a professional organization is not social.
SAQA is my professional tribe. It is large organization in which members gather in local and regional groups, online and at conferences. Like other professional organizations SAQA’s value to me is not social. It provides me with status as an art quilter and allows me to grow as a professional.
SAQA as an organization promotes the discipline of art quilting. It has a global network of artists who have the opportunity to be included in exhibitions traveling around the globe. Professional publications including a journal, exhibition catalogues and books document the growth of art quilts from craft to museum quality artwork.
As a member I can use SAQA resources to pitch a show to gallery or museum. I can network with local SAQA members to share strategies for promoting our work and creating opportunities for regional exhibitions. I have also participated in webinars, special interest groups and discussions where participants from all over the globe connect via teleconference.
My advice is belong to a tribe which supports your goal. If your goal is to be an art quilter, don’t be afraid to make a leap into a professional tribe like SAQA. There is real value in going beyond your own local community.
Until next time....
SAQA is the Studio Art Quilt Associates.