A Professional Tribe

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. 


 

Photo from Life Magazine
1950 Quilt Guild.

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.

Not All Art Quilts Are Flat!

As I write this post,
I looked  down at the calendar I almost missed the fact that this is the first day of March!

Another year sailing by too quickly.

My life since retirement has increasingly been focused on creating work for entry into art quilt exhibitions. The first three months of this year contain more opportunities than I have experienced in the past.

I have already entered over a dozen quilts into local, regional, national and international quilt exhibitions. I still have more exhibitions to enter. I was glad today when I got a rejection. The rejection allowed me to save this piece for entry into another show.

Building an inventory of quality work has been key to getting more quilts accepted to more exhibitions. It has also been key to expanding my subject matter and my techniques.

When I first submitted a portfolio to become Juried Art Member of SAQA in 2015; every quilt was a portrait using a consistent process and was similar in size. Since then I have been adding new materials , techniques and exploring different genres including landscapes.

Umbrella Book

My most unusual quilt this year is an exploration of three dimensional forms using layered and stitched fabric. These sculptural books were inspired by SAQA’s recent exhibitions encouraging artists to submit both two and three dimensional quilts and an exhibition called "3D Expression".

Some of you reading this post will think, quilts have to be hung on the wall: Quilts are flat!  

The definition of an art quilt is a creative work that is layered and stitched. The stitches can be real or implied. So what can an artist make within those parameters? I stumbled onto an idea for a 3D quilt when I entered an exhibition called “Forced to Flee” .

Roadmap

The call for entry asked artists to respond to the issues of people forced to move from their chosen homes. What would that be like for a family leaving on foot, being desperate, possibly scared, with limited resources and no clear roadmap leading to their desired destination?

Since I have never been forced to flee the safety of my home, I thought about what  it was like for me as child to travel. 

My family went a several long road trips. No matter how well planned, family vacations often involved leaving something important at home, impatience, hunger and getting lost.  Everyday of the trip Dad would carefully fold a map that we used to  guide us on our journey.This memory was my inspiration.

I created an accordion folded quilt in  a shape that reminded me of those folded road trip maps. Each section included a Central America country with pictures of a refugee. I was pleased that jurors included this dimensional work into the exhibition. 


Who knows where this new idea of an art quilt will lead?

Until next time......
Margaret

After the “Road to California”

 Last year I wrote a post about my experience entering my first art quilt in a traditional quilt show in Ontario California.

“ 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 more traditional quilt to enter in next year’s show.”

                        Post from January 2018


I have definitely devoted myself to improve my skills as a quilter. I used quilts for my guild’s philanthropy group to practice free motion patterns. Once a month I participate in  a long-arm club at my local quilt shop. At that shop I recently I attended a three day hands on class sponsored by Handi Quilter. During those three days I began to understand and appreciate how quilting can transform even the most basic quilt top.

Like all artists, quilters use design concepts. In planning the quilting for a quilt top, a master quilter is able to transform the composition. A pattern created during quilting will enhance the visual depth of a quilt by densely filling or sparsely  filling an enclosed shape. Quilting provides a visual pathway around the surface of a quilt and can even create a focal point where there wasn’t one.


Quilting lines can be straight or curved, can be heavy or light.  These lines used in a predictable pattern create a visual rhythm which plays across the surface of a quilt. The possibilities are limitless.

Taking the time before I begin to quilt to draw out the designs  has really helped me. I now spend a few minutes doodling with a fine point marker before I quilt. I don't always choose to draw the designs that familiar to quilters like feathers or ribbon candy. I always am thinking about what will add to or enhance the quilt.

 

quilt

 

Recently I made a simple block quilt. I used a ruler to create a line of oblong shapes. I filled each row with a difference free motion motif. The exercise helped me to expand my design repertoire. 

I am beginning to see how these stitched patterns are important for the visually rich backgrounds in my portrait quilts. The potential of a using motifs in my landscape quilts to mimic natural elements is making me reconsider using primarily thread painting to enhance the design.


This year, as I toured the show; I was able to appreciate the technical prowess of the award winners and of many participants.

The quilt I entered this year (Jana)  had already won an award at a art quilt exhibition but did not get a nod from the judges at Road. So next year, I still have a goal of entering a bed quilt and to enter an art quilt that demonstrates my improved technique.


The goal is not the award.

The goal is to grow as an artist.


Until next time.....
Margaret

It’s a Plan

 

Planning for a New Year

A favorite author, Donna Leon; said in an interview

“I write one page a day and by of the year I have written another book.”


Taking each day to accomplish something toward a larger goal is a strategy I employ. I no longer put all my energy on getting into one important exhibition. Instead I  work consistently in my studio each day, grow as an artist and apply to exhibitions that connect with the work I have created.

Creating a system to manage my goals has helped keep me on track. In the past I have used a dry erase blank month calendar that I update with classes, appointments, meetings, due dates, shipping deadlines and reminders.

 This year I wanted to have a more complete planning guide that would allow me to organize my work around larger goals and long term objectives.

Day-Designer-650x397

I found a  perfect planner for setting long term goals: Day Designer.


The website describes this planner as
The  2019 Flagship Daily Planner helps busy women manage their schedules and tackle their to-do lists.  More than a productivity planner, this beautiful functional planner is the best tool to help you reach your goals.”

There are a variety of pretty covers and practical features.  The planner includes tabs for each month, stickers, a pocket file, laminated page of holiday dates and a ruler. It has both a monthly calendar and double page week with 7 lines for to do’s and descriptions. At the top of the week there was a place to write down the weeks top three goals.


The feature that caught attention was the first four pages that broke down the planning process in manageable steps with written inspirational prompts to help me think about what I  want to reach for in the next year. 

Page 1:
“Start with the Big Picture”.

The prompt encouraged brainstorming about the people you want in your life, what are non negotiables in your life, what matters most, and what you dream about.  Remember this page does not have to be filled out first. Consider creating a word of the year . Grow, Learn, Joy, Energy, Grateful, Connected..... 

Page 2
“Set your goals”.  

Goals were broken down in four components:  Personal, Family, Friends and Relationships, Heart and Spirit, Financial and Work, Career or Study. The space provided was modest  which made me keep it simple. I also taylored my goals to relate to art quilting. For example I want to connect with a larger network of fellow art quilter near me. 

Page 3
"Morning and Evening Routines"

Successful people have routines that support their larger goals. Each day reflects your priorities. I want to enter my studio in the morning even if it’s just to look at my design wall and return to the studio in the evening to clean up and set up for the next project. I also want to take a daily walk, read, pray and meditate.

Page 4
"Stay on Course"

On this page I can check in and give myself a pat on the back for taking a workshop, or averaging 10,000 steps a day, applying for exhibitions or writing an article. The little things count and being your own coach will help you focus on all the progress you have made during the year to grow as an artist and as a person.

edI hope this has help you get geared up for another year. I'm excited!

Until next time...
Margaret

The Quilt Shows Rubric


"Critics have a job to do. They do not criticise you without reason."

Abhishek Bachchan


This fall I entered two quilts at the state quilt festival. One of these quilts was selected by Nancy Prince and given the  shows' National Teacher Award. I was surprised and grateful for Nancy’s kind words. 

As an art quilter I have many quilts in galleries and museums that feature fine arts. Those shows are juried by digital image and often judged by digital image or as the juror tours the show.

San Antonio

Quilt shows use a difference process. Although quilts may be accepted by viewing a digital image, they are juried using a specific set of predetermined qualities which are evaluated by close inspection. In teacher speak this is called a rubric.

A scoring rubric is an attempt to communicate expectations of quality around a task. In many cases,scoring rubrics are used to delineate consistent criteria for grading.

Luckily the judges included the completed rubric when my quilts were returned. It was valuable information. Their rubric  used two categories: "Appearance" and "Workmanship". Each judge circled a grade from excellent to fair after looking at the specific attribute. There was also an option of not applicable. The rubric was used for all categories from patchwork to art quilts. 

The appearance category had six attributes: fabric choice, color/value, scale/composition ,border, quilting pattern and condition. Workmanship had seven categories and  eight subcategories: piecing, applique, quilting (even stitches, amount, visible marking or knots, tension) amount of quilting, borders, finishing (binding, corners, filled binding, stitch) and special techniques or embellishments.

My quilt San Antonio, which got the national teachers award ; received no exceptional marks in any category from any of the states judges.  The reason for this is because the judging process was very different. 

It was clear from the rubric that the judges area of expertise was traditional or functional quilts. Judges wrote a note asking if the quilt was a photo or was it painted. Because the judges were unable to read my artist statement to help them fill in the gaps in their knowledge they were at a disadvantage.

Many of the attributes could not be evaluated because art quilts are not bound by the limits of function or the deeply embedded craft tradition associated with the quilt. I did not have a border. The quilt is whole cloth so there were no fabric selections, no piecing or applique. The fabric itself was unique and created with recent technology. Teams of judges assembled to examine quilts had no frame of reference to look at a creative or non functional entry. 

The national judge was not bound by the rubric. She had experience viewing and making quilts that were decorative and not functional. She also was given the freedom to look at the selection of quilts and pick one that spoke her aesthetic sensibilities. She was selecting a quilt in the same way a judge at art quilt exhibition would select a quilt. Their selection is based on visual qualities and not held hostage by a the rubric.

Alamo Gate

When I explain the difference in the judging process  to an audience, I often hear people say, that’s why I don’t enter quilt shows. I don’t need to be judged. 

It's important to remember that judges have a job to do. The are not judging without reason. I am going to use the rubric from the state show to help me select some areas of technique that I can improve.

I am also keenly aware that the selection process at an art venue  is different than quilt show. Finally I am confident in my current abilities and in my ability to constantly grow as an artist.


Until next time...
Margaret