BIG Fish in Little Pond or Little Fish in BIG pond

I have been working the last three years on building a portfolio. My process has evolved through SAQA mentorship program, classes, critique groups, professional conferences, journals and my local community of quilters.

Along the way my perspective has changed. I think of this change as a shift from the kind of creative “pond” I am willing to drive into.

Main-Gallery

Once you have devoted the time and energy to making an art quilt you have to decide its’ purpose. Maybe it’s a valuable stepping stone to the next quilt. It may be just right for your home or as a gift.

There is also the possibility of sharing your work with a larger community.


There are two basic categories of display venues specifically for art quilts:

Traditional quilt shows where the quilt is judged on quality of craftsmanship and secondarily on the artist qualities.

Calls for Entry where judging is through the lense of  a visual art audience.   


Most local, county and state quilts shows have categories that accomodate art quilts.

The category may be pictorial,  surface design, non traditional, or some other "descriptive" title. The show usually lasts a week or less and lets participants pickup and drop off quilts which keeps the costs low. These shows may not require you to submit a digital image or may allow you to simply display your quilt. So if you want to dip your toe in the water, this is an ideal event.  

There are also major quilt shows that attract multi state participants.

Out here in the West there is “Road to California” .  American Quilters Society (AQS) has six quilt shows in the east and midwest. Paducah is a show that draws quilters all over the globe.

Quilts Inc. sponsors the largest quilt festival in Houston Texas: The International Quilt Festival. They also have large shows in Chicago and Kansas City.

The Festival of Quilts in Birmingham England is an opportunity to show off to a global audience. 

The second category of opportunities is a call for entry.

This is a request for quilt artists to display their work in an art venue. It may be a gallery or museum. These venues will display your quilt for a longer period of time and will likely attract people interested in art.

SAQA’s call for entry listing currently has 14 opportunities for regional, national and international exhibitions. These shows have a theme. Read the perspective carefully and see if there is something that speaks to you.

There are also venues that have annual or biannual shows like Sacred Threads. This exhibition is a great starting point for those who haven’t entered a quilt into a national competition.

Museums like Quilt Visions in San Diego California  who are dedicated to displaying artists making contemporary quilt art have opportunities for members including online exhibitions  as well as a couple of themed shows.

There are searchable databases that help you find a place to exhibit. My favorite is CAFE.  CAFE is a service for artists to upload images of their work and to search for calls for entry in your local area, your state and beyond. Best of all it's free. 

My advice is to:

  • Plan well in advance (6 months or more) to enter a quilt.
  • You will need a high quality digital image, a description of your materials and technique and an artist statement.
  • You will need to consider the fee for entry, costs of joining an organization and shipping.
  • Some computer skills are needed.  It’s not that hard, but planning and persistence are necessary. 
  • Be prepared to invest in an entry and not get into the first show you enter. 
  • Keep trying.

So what pond are you ready to dive into?

Until Next Time....
Margaret