Show Updates

As I get yet another art rejection, I have to remind myself that my work is out there (well, yes, it’s OUT THERE, but it’s also out THERE…for you to like see it and stuff).

Here’s some updated show info…

The collection of Quilt National that includes my piece Spread Out on the Pavement is going to be at the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County in Moorhead, Minnesota, from August 14-September 28.

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My two pieces Fully Medicated and I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket will be at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England, from August 7-10, as part of the ArtQuilt Portfolio: People and Portraits exhibit based on the book of the same name. The author, Martha Sielman, will be doing a talk about the quilts while she’s there on Friday August 8 and Saturday August 9. She has heard ME talk about them, so hopefully she was listening, because I don’t remember a word of what I said.

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Then they will also travel to the Festival Internacional de Patchwork e Arts Afins, Curitiba, Brazil, from August 27-30, 2015, thus traveling more than I have in my lifetime (OK, maybe not…it just feels that way). Really. I’m jealous. Not fair.

Celebrating Silver will open at Houston on October 30, where you can hear me try to explain my piece Awakening the Crone (ha!). The exhibit will follow the normal IQF route in Chicago and Portland, but will also be at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England, in August 2016. Yikes. That thing will be gone for a good long time, I guess. I still can’t show full photos of that quilt, but it will rock your socks. Off. Or something.

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It’s one I’m really proud of. I really like it. Which means normally it wouldn’t get in to any show, but because I made it FOR this exhibit, they are stuck with its awesomeness.

So the fact that nothing I’ve made SINCE then has made it into a show is irrelevant. It is really. I know that. It’s just frustrating in the moment. Especially when you’re updating your resume and realizing that you haven’t gotten into a show for like 6 months. Fuck. Oh well. Moving on. Go make more art. It can’t get in if you never finish it because you are having one of those days. Seriously. Get off the computer. Pick up the fabric. Ignore the wailing cat.

Paying Attention…

I’m supposed to pay attention to, label my feelings, pay attention to my movements…going from stopped to moving, from seated to standing. I think too hard about the latter…wait, am I moving now? Am I stopped? When does movement start? Trying. Not breathing right this morning. Irritated. Stressed. Too much to do before I leave for Houston. Work raises its ugly head and demands more attention. Fuck you…you have too much of my life already, you bastard. I’m ignoring you. Hard to do with the sound of hundreds of middle-schoolers outside my door.

I started typing this in the morning, before school. I was trying to get everything set up and my brain was vibrating, it was working so hard to push emotion down and out and away. So I stopped. I typed. I cried. I cried with kids right outside the door. Better than inside, right? It’s OK. It’s under control most of the time. Or is that OK? Would less control be better? I don’t know. I have to function. I have to do my job, pay the bills, take care of my kids.

Tension. Nausea. Tweaked one part of my back. Bloated, tired. Wanted to stay home and read my book. Still want to do that. (got to read at the gym and during dinner…having dinner by yourself? Or having dinner with the characters of your book? Sad either way, but at least I semi-enjoy one version.)

Here’s the core problem to paying attention to your feelings: mine get overwhelming pretty quickly, and that’s not OK at work. I try to draw from positive interactions at work, especially with kids, but they seem more heavily weighted in the morning hours, and then I try to check in with my team at lunch for their collective strength and with my science coteacher between classes, in the space between our doors, but some days I just can’t get enough mental and emotional space from all that crap that swirls around in my head, making soup out of my control and logic and planning. Mr. Meditation doesn’t probably deal with what I deal with…he looks too damn calm. Give him my life for a week or so and see if he changes his tune. I spent all day breathing and paying attention to how I felt (you are about to duct tape a student to a chair…how does that make you FEEL?). Not really. But maybe it worked, I don’t know.

He says, “Experience overtakes the intellectual understanding of your feelings,” like that’s a good thing. OK. I guess it is. It’s just not good in the context of work or the gym or the grocery store or wherever I’m standing that isn’t in my room, a closet, in my car, in a big field in the middle of nowhere (can I be transported there now?). I am very good at experiencing my feelings. I am also good at understanding them. That unfortunately does not help them leave me alone for a while. Or even control them enough to feel like I’m in control.

Speaking of control, tomorrow’s dinner is already prepped and in the fridge for the slow-cooker tomorrow (I’m getting the hang of this. Praise my efficiency, dammit). My sub plans for the two days I’m gone were done this morning. I did extra laundry today for the trip. I’m not packed, but that’s OK…I’m doing that tomorrow night. I have food for the trip. I’ll be running on very little sleep (hey, what’s new?). Expect me to fall into a closet and cry at some point. I have books on the iPad and in real life (just in case), I have a couple of sketchbooks (have to make a decision about those), and I spent time tonight prepping the last two months’ of Sue Spargo’s birds to take with me…

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I needed to iron and cut things out…

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and sew a few things down with the machine. Tomorrow night I will put the bags together for stitching on the plane. I’m hoping we aren’t in terminals for long…if we are, it’s because we missed a flight. I’m prepared if we do. I have food, books, and stitching…materials for drawing. I hate being bored. Headphones for music. I will need music.

I’d like to say I’m excited, but mostly I’m nervous and apprehensive. I don’t travel well. I have to talk about two quilts, and I don’t really have anything logical to say about one of them, although girlchild approved my rambling explanation from last night. I’m worried about being around people. I know, that’s lame. I’m hoping to hold it together without my routines of exercise, meditation, reading, and drawing in a safe place. There are no safe places in a hotel or on a plane. I have my gym clothes. I have my meditation app. I have headphones.

I had to grade tests tonight, so I didn’t get any time for real art, but I did interact with fabric. During school, I needed to do a cover page for the new unit…

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So I even got to draw at school. And color! You wonder why I draw what I draw…or maybe you don’t. I wonder if I were an English or Math teacher, what would I draw instead of body parts? Or was I fated to be a science teacher? Who knows.

I had 17 ideas today for drawing uterine-related stuff, women and their periods, women and menopause, women and their uteri, the pain, the blood, the mess, the annoyance, as you age, having to deal with the vagaries of the female body deciding to ignore routine and just mess with you on a regular basis. Cramps so bad it hurts to stand, it hurts to sit…and yet, there you are, doing both, in front of 35 kids who have no idea what you’re feeling or experiencing. This is your teacher…she is basically hemorrhaging AND suffering from depression. And you think YOU have it bad? Really? Deep breaths. It’s like my inner emotional world is being wrought upon the physical body. I can draw that.

I need to draw more of that…you know, because it will be so accepted in the art or art-quilt worlds. Yeah. Whatever. I obviously don’t pay much attention to acceptance in either. I just do what’s in my head and rail at the world when it causes issues.

I’m going to Houston for the opening of the Art Quilt Portfolio: People and Portraits exhibit that SAQA is sponsoring to go along with Martha Sielman’s book published this year. I was one of 21 featured artists in the book (if I’m smart, I will find my copy and take it with me for signatures). They are exhibiting two quilts from each artist. I got to choose which two out of the book (oh my…what were they thinking, letting me choose?). I chose Fully Medicated and I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket. I’ll post them later this week (although they are on my Current Shows page). My mom will be there too…be nice to her. It must have been hard to raise me to be the crazy-ass artist that I am today. I’m sure it was hard.

When I get back from Houston, it’s race race race to the end of the school trimester and getting two quilts done and the stupid fucking holiday season (hate the holidays) and the high-school soccer season and family stuff and maybe some free time. And maybe some mental space, who knows. Probably some pain and hurt as well. That seems to come with the holidays, whether I like it or not. Lots of have-to’s and shoulds and not a lot of enjoying the moment. I will have to work on that. More exhibits to enter, some to get into, some to reject me (I can handle that…it’s disappointing, but it’s a rejection that I’m used to and can deal with). If I had my choice right this second, I’d be working on a quilt right now, instead of trying to persuade my brain it’s bedtime.

I don’t often have a choice, though. Paying attention. Sigh. I really wish someone had been paying attention. That’s part of my test, now. You need to pay attention. If you can’t? Fuck off. You’re not worth it.

Art Quilt Portfolio: People and Portraits Blog Tour

When I saw the topic for the first Art Quilt Portfolio, I knew I had nothing relevant. Although nature features largely in most of my work, it really is the human figure that has fascinated me for years. So when I saw the announcement for the second volume, People and Portraits, I was happy because that is where I fit.

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(Maria Elkins’ piece Windblown)

I have been using the human figure in my art since college, well before I started this obsession with fabric that is currently taking over my studio. I started with drawing people, taking life drawing classes as part of my college degree in studio art. I would try to figure out how the bones and muscles under the skin gave the body its form.


Way back when, I still ran off the page…(this is actually fabric crayon on fabric, one of the transition pieces from drawing to fabric work)

I was mostly a screenprinter (on paper) after college, and almost all of my work was of the human figure. As I began to consider having children, I switched to less toxic methods of printing, but I also found myself taking quilt classes and trying to figure out how to make the same images in fabric, because I could carry it around with me. Screens are time consuming to clean; you need big blocks of time to get the prints done. Fabric could be stitched in the tiny bits of time in between raising kids.

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(a mockup for an old screenprint…I’ve actually considered making this a quilt)

I started with hand appliqué and moved from there to fusible appliqué. I still use hand embroidery on some of my quilts, but I also use ink to shade pieces. I still draw the image first, much like I did with the screenprints. I just use fabric instead of ink to make the image.

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(the original drawing for Feeding Time)

Being one of the featured artists in Martha Sielman’s book is a real joy, especially because the book has such a wide range of styles of working. I also appreciate seeing some new artists and their work. I know Martha could have published three or four books under this subject with all the interesting work that’s out there, but the sections in between the featured artists show a bit of what others are doing with people and portraits in the fiber world.

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(Feeding Time completed in fabric)

This is my favorite kind of art book…lots of color pictures and variety, but also some meaty text about how and why artists do what they do. I could read books like that for the rest of my life and never get tired of them.

You can read my post here about Art Quilt Portfolio: People and Portraits from the end of March; I linked to all the featured artists in that post. I did do a giveaway back then…so sorry you missed it, but stay on the blog tour and I think you’ll find others doing the same. I knew I couldn’t handle a trip to the post office in the last 7 days of school…I’ll be lucky to handle keeping my head on my shoulders!

The blog tour continues through the end of the month:

June 3rd – Lark Kick Off!
June 5th – Sarah Ann Smith –
June 6th – Maria Elkins –
June 7th – Laura Wasilowski –
June 9th – Katherine McNeese –
June 10th – Cheryl Sleboda –
June 11th – Linda McLaughlin –
June 12th – Kathy Nida –
June 13th – Marilyn H. Wall –
June 14th – Janice Paine Dawes–
June 16th – Pamela Price Klebaum –
June 17th – Deborah Boschert –
June 18th – Lisa Chin –
June 19th – Sue Bleiweiss –
June 20th – Leni Wiener –
June 24th – Cheryl Lynch –
June 25th – Lesley Riley –
June 26th – Stephanie Forsyth –
June 30th – Pat Kumich –

Art Quilt Portfolio: People and Portraits, Review and Giveaway

I love that I get books to review…it’s even better when it’s a book I already own, so I can give away the extra. I got an artist copy of the Art Quilt Portfolio: People and Portraits, but I also received a review copy, so if you want it, just comment to that effect and I’ll draw names next Friday, April 5, and mail it out to you.

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I did read this book cover to cover. It’s my favorite kind of book, full of a good variety of artists and pictures, with nice big pictures of the art, and insights into what the artists think about their work and their process. Yes, I am one of the featured artists, but if I didn’t like the book, I wouldn’t be giving a positive review.

Martha Sielman did a great job tailoring the questions to the specific work of the artists and providing us with some people we’ve all heard of and some who were merely blips on my radar (and even some I’d never heard of, which just means I’m not listening hard enough).

The profiled artists include Joan Sowada, Bodil Gardner, Maria Elkins, Colette Berends, Pat Kumicich, Sherry Davis Kleinman, Cheryl Dineen Ferrin, Yoshiko Kurihara, Lora Rocke, Margot Lovinger, Ulva Ugerup, Viola Burley Leak, Margene Gloria May, Lori Lupe Pelish, Sonia Bardella, Leni Wiener, Mary Pal, Jenny Bowker, myself, Pam RuBert, and Carol Goddu. Each featured artist had about 6 quilts pictured on 6 pages. I liked that each artist covered topics that were specific to their work and lives. In trying to answer interview questions in the past, I know that trying to answer wide-open and vague questions is difficult. Sielman definitely did her homework before sending out questions to the artists, and you can clearly hear the artist’s voice in each section.

There is a wide variety of work here, from the more realistic work done by Bardella, Elkins, and Rocke; to the more abstract pieces of Pelish, Burley Leak, and May; into the whimsical and expressive work of RuBert, Ugerup and Gardner; to Pal, Dineen Ferrin, and Bowker’s intriguing and revealing portraits of particular people. I was fascinated by Kurihara, Berends, and Goddu’s use of fabrics, although they don’t work in a similar fashion at all. I have been lucky to have been following the work of Lovinger for years, and Wiener’s blog is a great background to how she creates her work. Sowada and Davis Kleinman’s work have been on my radar for a good long time, and Kumicich is a recent find, as she is one of the artists in the I’m Not Crazy exhibit I curated.

I would suggest reading Elizabeth Barton’s review as well…she makes an interesting comparison between this volume and the Nature volume of Art Quilt Portfolio. She brings up a point that I also noticed, that there is no contact information in each artist’s section, and even the information at the back is fairly sparse. Although I know how to Google, it would be nice to have that information, even if half of it were out of date by publication…maybe that is why they leave it out.

I mentioned when I reviewed the Nature volume that I liked the galleries of other artists, but they seemed to make more sense in the Nature volume. There were logical topics. I suggested that for the People and Portraits, coming up with gallery titles that were relevant and yet were a means to gather work together would be difficult, and I was apparently right about that. I’m not sure I see the connections in some of the galleries…it might be OK to just not title them. I did enjoy the variety of other artists working with the figure, especially artists whose work I had not seen before. I think that is one of the great strengths of this type of book, in that it is not predictable, that the artists we might expect to see profiled here were not necessarily the artists chosen.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Sielman comes up with next. Again, if you want my copy, comment…

Art Quilt Portfolio: People and Portraits

Exciting! Martha Sielman’s new Art Quilt Portfolio is up for pre-order on Amazon here.

That’s one of Maria Elkins‘ pieces on the cover, Windblown…I’ve seen it in real life and it’s gorgeous. I know that Sherry Davis Kleinman is one of the featured artists, as am I, so I’m really looking forward to seeing it. Unfortunately, it’s not due to release until April 2013, so we will have to patiently wait. The copy states that there are 21 featured artists and the works of more than 100 other artists included in the book, all focused on People and Portraits. Sielman’s previous book in this series, The Natural World, is absolutely beautiful and inspiring…

so I think this one will be too.