It’s hard to explain what a Studio Art Quilt Associates conference with 200 artists is like. Here is a jumble of words and feelings to get things started:
-Happy, joyful, excited, engaged, inspired, encouraged
-Unique hair, shoes and jewelry
-Inclusion of all – no cliques
-There were Legends in attendance, artists that created the very foundation upon which I stand
-Friends from all over the US and world
-A sense of being part of a movement and among “my tribe”
-We are a part of a legacy – “Preserve, document, plan”
-Known introverts freely introducing themselves
-A room full of incredible talent
We met at the Hilton in San Jose, Ca for 4 days of education, inspiration and connecting. I was lucky enough to room with Libby Williamson:
Libby has many talents; among them is the making of these adorable dollies. She also leads workshops to make them. Funny incident – Libby left her dollies strewn over the bed when we left for the day. We returned to find them carefully arranged:
How adorable is that? It’s like they’re having a party.
Today I’ll cover the first half of my visit and finish up next week.
I don’t know why I didn’t get photos of the Thursday night ice breaker – it was a blast. Mel Beach led us through an exercise using improvisational games. She actually got us doing a type of comedy improv, using props and prompts. We went table-to-table with different groups and activities at each table. Because we were ALL out of our element, it worked! There were some very, very bad puns that were formed as the night progressed and we got downright goofy towards the end. Mel definitely broke the ice!
Saturday started with a Keynote address by Pokey Bolton who took us through her career and the history of the art quilt. It was a heartfelt and funny speech with some thoughtful quotes along the way. I will throw them in throughout my post.
Pokey’s speech was followed by 2 “Lightening Talks” – 20 slides, each shown for 20 seconds, for a total of 6 2/3 minutes. The focus of each talk varied – some were inspirational, some educational, some funny, some sober; all great! I didn’t even think to take photos, I was completely engaged.
Lisa Congdon did a fabulous talk on using Instagram. I would guess that the average age at the conference was somewhere in the 60’s, so to many, this was much needed. Lisa has 267,000 followers so she kinda knows a little bit about Instagram. I definitely took some tips from her that I will use. I better understand how my interaction can boost engagement for others and I also got some great tips on hashtags. It’s not just about getting followers, it’s about promoting your work!
There were 4 break outs to choose from and I chose “Down the Rabbit Hold Creativity Playshop” and “Cutting Edge Explorations”. Katie Fowler guided us through a creativity exercise, no small task in a group of 50 people. She set up the playshop with the following:
Um, this is a good approach to just about anything! I didn’t have any breakthroughs but I was still in kind of a funk from losing Zeke.
I am actually not sure that this came from Katie’s breakout, but don’t you know this feeling? Comfort zones do not create fabulous art!
Cutting Edge Explorations focused on the art and process of Valerie Goodwin. Oh her work is fabulous:
She is a professor of architecture at Florida State A&M and her work is based on maps. The photo does not do her work justice. This piece is translucent and I was intrigued by the many layers of materials and meaning. She has access to some serious laser cutters and her work is amazing.
The Breakouts were followed by one of my favorite activities – Friday Night Out. Participants signed up to join a group at a restaurant. I chose an Asian Fusion restaurant (Mosaic) and I deliberately chose a group where I knew the fewest people – I want to meet new people!
What a fun group! We were coming from Colorado, California, Rhode Island, Virginia – have I missed anyone? We enjoyed top-notch food and company – what a treat!
I didn’t get photos of Saturday morning’s speakers either – truly, I was just so engaged I forgot. We heard from a collaborative duo – RoCoCo and learned a lot about their art, how they formed, how they made art together while preserving their own practice and how the collaboration elevated the art of each. I’d love to collaborate someday!
Then in a intense session, the Social Justice Sewing Academy gave us an overview of their mission and practice and it was powerful! The presenters were all in their 20’s except for one of the leaders and they were motivated, proactive and articulate. The SJA focuses on middle and high school students and their mission is “piecing together youth voices, textile art, and community in a 21st Century Sewing Circle”. The work shown was moving, compelling and graphic.They received a rousing and prolonged standing ovation.
The students fuse their art so the SJA needs hand embroiders to finish and secure the fused pieces. Interested? Go here to sign up and help.
We started the afternoon with a tour of 3 of the exhibits (I missed one – time was short!) at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. Here’s a little art for ya:
From the SAQA exhibit, H2OH!:
Fishing, Barbara Watler
Sacramento River Chinook, Martha Wolfe
Mountain Stream, Marianne Williamson
Reflections in a Canal, Venice, Triptych, Barbara Schneider
Sound of Water, Margaret Abramshe
Indigo Ice, Judith Content
Didymo, Nancy Crasco
From the Marbaum Collection: Variations in Technique, an exhibit which spanned decades of work, from a donation to the Museum by Hillary and Marv Fletcher:
Shadow, Mary Alexander
Light Comes From Inside, Beatrice Lanter
Untitled, Liz Cenedella.
Overlay 6, Ruth Garrison.
From the Porcella Gallery, Momentary and Timeless:
Coyote Hills Cattails Revisited, Denise Oyama Miller
Momentary Connections, Alice Beasley
Foggy Morning, Robin Cowley
Whew – and that is just the first half! I’ll be back next week with more. I’m linking up to Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday – see what everyone else is up to!