Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Brain Hurts

I have only a moment to spare here, between unpacking and getting back to the business of being a mom, but I just had to share what an incredibly intellectually and visually stimulating weekend I've had. Whew! My brain literally hurt at the end of the day yesterday. On Friday evening I tagged along with Natalya Aikens to a Fiber Revolution get-together at the home of gracious hostess, Cindy Friedman, in the outskirts of Philly. Conversation was exciting, to say the least, in the company of Jason Pollen and Regina Benson.

On Saturday, I attended the SAQA symposium, "Building an Artist Community". The keynote speaker was Sue Benner who, with the most delightful humorous asides, led us through her path as an artist and how it was enriched by her association with other artists.... and not only textile artists. This point was driven home again and again over the next 18 hours: it is imperative to your success as an artist to seek out artists in other fields and to meet with them regularly. What you learn from these other artists and their form of expression will only better inform your own.

This lecture was followed by an exchange with the three jurors of the Art Quilt Elements show: Jason Pollen, Robin Schwalb, and Deborah C. Warner. During their panel discussion, they reviewed a random selection of entries which were not juried into the show. In each case, they expressed how the entry was enhanced and detracted by color, technique, even the detail photo selected for submission. They opened the floor to questions as they went through the photos, so it became a real dialogue with those of us in the audience. I have to credit each of the jurors with being very accessible in how they spoke about the art. It was a very engaging experience. Among the many things I learned was the importance of the detail photo. It's not enough that it convey some sense of the mastery of your technique. Instead, it should reveal some essence of the overall piece, with the technique supporting that vision. It was interesting to note that many of the pieces that were presented during the talk were compositionally stronger in their detail shots, as compared to their full views. If your piece looks better as a detail, perhaps you should rethink the piece. What a great self-critique tool.

During lunch I had the opportunity to mingle with some of the artists juried into the show (talk about rubbing elbows with greatness -- whew!). Then Sandra Sider and Lisa Chipetine spoke about their critique business, QuiltCritique.com (currently off-line, but soon to be back). I was hoping there would be fresh material from Sandra in her talk, but she used a good portion of her recent article in the SAQA journal as the source for her lecture. Still, it is interesting to see and hear how critique from those whose opinions you trust can lead you in new directions and better work. Lisa followed up with ways to become part of critique groups. One of the key points here is that there should always be a facilitator so nothing gets out of hand and/or isn't productive. She also spoke about marketing ourselves more widely, using technology, to help create a more global artist community. Skype, the Flip Minnow Video for You Tube, and enhancements to the SAQA wiki were all part of the discussion. I haven't had success getting into the SAQA wiki (technical issues), but I am looking forward to it. I think I'll benefit from some of the information there. It's also clear that I should participate in more of the mentoring calls offered, as another way to reach out.

After all the lectures, the symposium moved to the galleries. Each of us were encouraged to talk with the artists about their quilts. Every artist I spoke to was very generous and forthcoming about their experiences, inspiration and joy in making their artwork. Each of the pieces in the show is a marvel and it was my great pleasure and privilege to speak with so many of the artists in attendance.

Now, though I'd love to write more, I have to get back to the business here at hand: school projects, injured dog care, unpacking.....

10 comments:

Karen L R said...

great post, vivien! sounds like a lot to absorb, but well worth the time and effort. hope your pooch is better.

Michigoose said...

Oh wow...OK you've convinced me...I'm joining.

Sue Reno said...

Thanks for the report, sounds like a great experience.

norma said...

When I went two years ago I came home bursting with enthusiasm and inspiration. It was a fabulous experience, and It sounds like your was, too. I don't know how I missed it this year, but somehow it crept up on me. I would have loved that lecture by the show jurors. Thanks for sharing.

Kristin L said...

Sounds awesome.

Beena said...

Sounds like an amazing experience! Glad you had a good time, and thanks for posting about it! I hope you stay inspired as you go back through the business of being a mom!

Natalya Aikens said...

you are fast to post and good too! thanks for coming along, it was so much fun to have you with me!

shades said...

Loved meeting you Vivien. I was totally overwhelmed by the talent and graciousness of everyone present. Thanks for saying it with such eloquence.
Paula

Carole said...

Wow! what a day... I can almost feel your inspiration!
Thank you for sharing this experince.

teri said...

I am hoping the move to the new server will solve a lot of the technical issues with the SAQA website.

Sounds like a great time. Wish I could have gone but the SAQA/SDA conference took a lot out of me....physically and financially.