Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fiber Art Exhibits Gearing Up for Fall, Part 1

One of the joys of looking through the mail is receiving invitations from artist friends and colleagues for their upcoming exhibitions. This is the season for new fiber art exhibitions, and this fall will be no exception. Visiting art exhibits is self-stimulating. It is also a fact that, especially in our field, other fiber artists eschew petty jealousies and competitiveness, instead appearing at openings from near and far to see other fellow artists, and to be supportive of those whose work is on exhibit.

Conversation in Fabric at the Ohio Craft Museum in Columbus. The fabulous work of artist Susan Shie graces the exhibition postcard.

The exhibition I curate, The Artist as Quiltmaker, juries in the fall, but hangs in the late spring, a time when the school year is coming to an end and we all dream of the coming summer. The biennial exhibition, the second oldest, longest-running venue for viewing art quilts in the world (second only to Quilt National) carries the pulse of the art quilt movement, both through the jurors and the exhibitors throughout the history of the show. This year's juror, Carolyn Mazloomi, will bring her own sensibility to the entries, one of the exciting things about utilizing a single juror. The entry guidelines are left purposefully flexible. We do not limit the size or offer a definition of a quilt, for example. As a result, we really receive, and exhibit, very cutting edge work. If any of you are planning to enter, click on the link to the show above, and download the pdf entry form. The entry deadline is September 29, 2009.

Opening on September 13, Conversations in Fabric at the Ohio Craft Museum was curated by Tracy Rieger and Linda Fowler of Quilt Surface Design Symposium fame. The work of twenty-five artists will be on exhibit through November 1st in Columbus, Ohio. The exhibiting artists include longtime friends Susan Shie, Sandy Shelenberger, Deborah Anderson and Barbara Lind, new acquaintance Sue Cavanaugh, as well as the wonderful work of artists such as Dorothy Caldwell, Patricia Larson, and Catherine Jeffers. Because of the incredible depth of Ohio's art quilt scene, (successfully documented in my book), there is always something wonderful to see in Columbus. Don't miss this one.

Corner Office by Terry Jarrard-Dimond, from her solo exhibit, Textile Constructions

I am currently participating in an online artist dialogue started by South Carolina fiber artist Terry Jarrard-Dimond and called Compositional Conversation. It is the second such virtual artist project I have participated in, and it promises to be a very stimulating experience. I first became familiar with Terry's work when several of her art quilts were juried into The Artist as Quiltmaker a few years ago. A stunning, process oriented artist and craftswoman, Dimond's solo exhibition at the Goodall Gallery at Columbia College, South Carolina promises to be fabulous. Textile Constructions opens September 1, so check it out if you're in the area.
My husband had surgery on both feet earlier this week. As a result of caring for him until he can walk again, my focus is elsewhere this week, and likely in the coming weeks. Look for more information on upcoming exhibitions to see in the coming days. And enjoy your feet, and your hands! I have gained a new appreciation for these taken-for-granted body parts this week.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cleaning Out Our Attics

These are fish napkin holders. They arrived in Saturday's mail, carefully wrapped and shipped USPS Priority Mail. Inside the box was a note from a dear college friend I had seen earlier in the week. She was in town from Paris visiting her elderly parents, and they had been cleaning out the attic of their family home. The never-used fish napkin holders, gifted to her parents long ago, had sat boxed up in the attic for years, waiting to be re-gifted to someone who still uses cloth napkins. That someone would be me, the recipient of a sweet and thoughtful gesture from a friend and her elderly parents, all of whom I adore.

This entire episode reminded me that we, 'we' meaning my husband and I, my siblings, my colleagues and all my friends in their fifties, we are all in a "cleaning out the attic" stage of our lives. The attic-clearing can be literal: passing long things we've held onto over the years, but no longer need or want, to someone else.

When my children left home, out of my house went extra furniture, dishes and pots and pans. Now that they both own homes, I have a list in my mind of special family heirlooms or otherwise valuable items in my attic and closets that I have now decided they are "old enough" to value and take care of. By becoming homeowners and parents, they have attained a certain level of stability in their lives at the same time that I am in the mood to clear "things" out of my own.

My 'baby' sister and I this summer, during her visit from Italy

My entire summer has been a more metaphorical cleaning of the attic. I have been acquiring new roles, such as "grandmother of three," "college buddy now in her fifties." I have also had the pleasure of not only forging fresh relationships with new grandbabies and old college friends, but of reconnecting with high school friends on Facebook and my own siblings, all wrapped in a parentheses of the music being created within my own family unit.

At this age, relationships become even more important, as they are my fuel for being an artist. Over the past decade, I have carefully swept my attic clean of unhealthy, one-sided relationships. I find I no longer have a tolerance for being with people who have nothing to give back in return. Instead, I have focused on my family, and building new and stronger relationships with our artist friends and musicians, all of whom provide deep love and support, shared experiences, and new ideas that find their expression in a cleaned out attic, where there is room to grow.

In July my tArty friends, a local artist group, met at my house to share their new work. It ran the gamut from exciting commissions, new, mind-blowing sketchbooks, and ideas developed into artwork.
Christy's commission sketches

Jill's sketchbook drawings

Christine with work inspired by her sketchbooks

In my own work, I have spent the summer working on designs for my new line of Magic Baby clothes. They have been selling as fast as I can get them finished and photographed. Now I am gearing up for Fall and Winter, with new editions being created in soft flannel, knitted fabric and baby cord. I am also trying to work out some baby boy designs. I need to come up with something very cute and very unique, but not "girly." My 'clean attic' and supportive relationships give me the support and space to let my mind have room to think.

Please don't get the idea that my house or my work space is literally clean. Quite the opposite. In my writing studio, every shelf is covered with research materials, my manuscript pages and files, and accented with piles of finished artwork, TagTalk cards and the like decorating the floor.

In my art studio, a too-small bedroom filled with a Pier 1 dining room table converted to a work table, fabric and works in progress are everywhere. It looks like a mess, but this is how I work. I have my fabrics organized in ways that I can find just what I am searching for. My trims and notions are organized in containers and boxes that fill the space under my work table. The lighting is terrible, but this is the space I have to work in, and this is where I work. Every day.

My point in showing this to you is that the "cleaning the attic" analogy has nothing to do with literal cleaning. It has everything to do with clearing out our lives so that we can focus on our passions. For those of you who haven't found your passion yet, I suggest the technique of attic-clearing to help you make room for finding it.

Another artist group I am participating in, Compositional Conversations, was formed online by my colleague Terry Jarrard Dimond. You can check the links in my sidebar to some of the artists who are also participating and writing about the project. Terry, an amazing artist, invited 16 artists to participate in a conversation, both in writing online and responding, but also by agreeing to be recipients of an art piece begun by her with a single piece of fabric which is sent to each artist respectively to be added to, considered, and conversed with. It's an intriguing exercise for the artists, and a chance to respond to the choices other artists have made. My turn to receive the artwork-in-progress is fast approaching. Each week, as I see the pictures posted from the other participants, my heart starts to race in nervous anticipation. Clearing out my metaphorical attic has made room for these new experiences and artistic conversations.

If you regularly follow my blog, you may have noticed that I have been absent for awhile. I have been really, really busy working, and have needed to focus on that. Somehow, though, the fish napkin holders arriving in the mail following six weeks of reconnecting with old friends and loved ones got me to thinking about the past, about attics, about relationships, and about making room for what is important. I hope, perhaps, my thoughts will jog your own in the same way. Time to clean your attic.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Nose to the Grindstone

Alright now, seriously. It's been almost a month since my last blog post.

Okay, seriously. That sounds like a confession to a priest in a movie. It's true, however. My life is not a movie. It only feels like one sometimes.

This is just a quick note to say hello, and to let you know that I have been working so much, and such long hours, that I haven't had the energy to think of anything clever to share. I will try to catch up with my sweet and kind readers soon.

In the meantime, happy August, and back to the grindstone for me.