The Room Was Humming Harder*

How not to start your Saturday morning, the first day of the weekend: interacting with the DMV website. Just don’t do it. Don’t try to be efficient and get the new ID now, because you know your driver’s license is up for renewal and that way you won’t have to do it again before 2020. Because you’ll have to take a day off work to do it, if you’re a teacher. So renew online now (after fighting their stupid registration system) and then renew again in the summer! Because that’s not a waste of time and plastic and aargh resources. I hate this shit.

But the girlchild is messaging me from Madagascar, so that’s cool. And I’m going to the zoo today, so that’s nice. And I will have to work today and tomorrow, BUT! I finished tracing Wonder Under last night on the new quilt, so that’s awesome. Actually, tracing is pretty calming and meditative, so I only really mind it if my feet are tired.

I came home yesterday and walked the little dog. I think we both needed it. He was so excited. It’s been a while. School is just not conducive to stuff afterwards sometimes. I did stay a little late at school, because Monday is Day 2 of labs, and after having to deal with lame lab results all day, we tested our calcium chloride and realized the old unsealed stuff really wasn’t working. So I cleaned mine all out and then set up for Monday, so I wouldn’t have to stress as much…also because I have morning and afternoon duty every day starting Monday (oh what fun). All I have to do is pour out the new CaCl and everything will be ready. All good.

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I am no longer anywhere near caught up with grading. I think we thought we’d get some time this last week to grade while kids did stuff, but after the first day of interest in the topic, those who are lazy as fuck and would really rather pick their noses than complete things were behavior issues and I spent a lot of time managing them. On these larger projects, even though we break them up into really user-friendly to-do lists and rubrics, there’s very little understanding of “I didn’t finish that yesterday, so I have to finish it today.”

It can be very frustrating. But more labs Monday. Hopefully reading instructions will go better as well. Also a difficult thing.

So I really needed this walk. I needed a longer one, but puppy isn’t good at those without Calli (who was at her dad’s house)…plus it was close to sunset. I’m still wary of the coyotes…as well I should be…they’re everywhere.

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So I was in this exhibit for Martha Sielman’s art quilt book series, in the People and Portraits book, and the exhibit started at IQF in Houston back in 2013 and then traveled all over the place, but when it got to Grand Rapids, Michigan, all hell broke loose, some woman imagined a penis in my quilt (there wasn’t one), and both quilts got pulled from the rest of the exhibit run. As part of the exhibit, they asked us to make a small sample quilt (I think this is like 11″ square) for a book where people could touch the pieces and see construction. I made this uterus in the hand (of course) and it then disappeared…I wondered about it briefly and then wasn’t sure who to ask about it, until I got an email earlier this week asking if I wanted to pay to ship it back to me, or (what they really wanted us to do) if I could donate it to the Texas Quilt Museum. Yeah, well, I’m pretty sure the TQM wants nothing to do with my uterus quilt, so I offered to pay to ship it back, but Martha is awesome and has been very supportive during this invisible penis crap, so she shipped it back to me. (The show and this little uterus were actually at the TQM in early 2014.)

I was expecting it to be dirty and maybe even looking a bit ragged after 4 years of travel and touching, but either people are scared to touch uteri (a possibility), or it travels well. It’s in great shape. I’m going to take the interfacing sleeve off that they used to put it in the book and pop it on Etsy, I think…just to see if someone wants it. It’s got a little fetus in there as well…gotta take a better-lit picture of it first.

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It’s nice to see my stuff wears well. I don’t make a lot of little pieces any more. I made some for a while, birds and cats, and sold a bunch to people I know, but the market was saturated. I like the speed at which I can make smaller pieces, but I also like the immersion of a big piece. It’s like reading a long book…I love being hooked for days on the story and the characters, completely sunk in the experience.

After dinner and some space-out time with a puppy in the crook of my knee (he was very happy there)…

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I went back to this and traced the last 100 pieces. It’s just short of 5 yards of Wonder Under there…

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It was close to midnight by then, so I didn’t start cutting yet. Maybe tonight. It was just over 9 hours of tracing…I suspect it’ll be about 5 hours of cutting, so that means I should be ironing to fabric hopefully sometime this week. It also means I have to clean up the studio and put away all the old fabrics from the last quilt…maybe I should do that today just to get a head start. I know this week coming up has way too much going on…meetings and gaming and tutoring and 2-hour staff meetings…fun stuff. The fabric part is fun though…

Meanwhile I’m waiting on a connection for this show where we pair up with a male artist to see what we have in common artistically, as part of opening a conversation about women in art. Some part of me gets irritated that we still have to do that, but then I think back to my professors at UCI…all the art professors but two were male. I got along with one of the females, but the other was either completely absent from our class and let the TA handle it (male TA) or she was a dismissive wench. I purposely did this painting of a giant penis to try and get her to respond (I’ve always had authority issues, what can I say?).

Art classes in college…I look back at those that were the most helpful…the professors who forced us to be creative even when we didn’t feel that way, who made us talk about our work, who talked about their own work in a real way, like how do I go home and do this every day, how do I find the space and time and balance? There wasn’t a lot of that. I remember getting into an argument with one professor who wanted me to show up during the day, but I was a double major, so I had overlapping classes across campus. I had picked Independent Study for that reason. She didn’t know I was showing up every night at 10 PM and staying until 2 AM, until she realized all the work I had sitting on the racks drying (ceramics class). She wanted me to interact with the other students though, so I had to try to do that. But I was very much in my own head even then. That’s been a useful skill, because honestly, I don’t have a lot of interaction with other artists living out here in East County and working in fabric. I get more of that interaction online. Like minds populating the world, but not my neighborhood.

And I’m OK with that. But I have a troubled response to the male/female artist inequality. I guess that makes this show useful. We’ll see. One on one, the relationship of a male and female artist, our art speaking to each other…that’s pretty easy. I don’t know if it solves the larger problem, though, because I don’t know that it’s the artists who are willing to show with us who are the issue…or society in general, the larger structure of the art world, the male artists who think we’re better at babymaking? Anyway. Something to think about…to ponder.

But for now, I’m going to ponder breakfast…a shower…and zoo animals.

*Annie Lennox, A Whiter Shade of Pale

You Won’t Find a Penis at AQS Grand Rapids…

Oh my. Oh dear. Censorship again folks…except this time, I’m being censored for something that’s not even there.

The SAQA exhibition folks were good enough to let me know that a viewer at AQS Grand Rapids, Michigan, had complained about a penis in one of my quilts at the  show and AQS was planning on pulling the quilt. (It’s already shown in Phoenix, AZ; Daytona Beach, FL; Lancaster, PA; and Paducah, KY, as part of the AQS QuiltWeek circuit).

So some person objected to my quilt and couldn’t just walk by, moving on to the next quilt (which is what I do when another Sunbonnet Sue shows its ugly head…I don’t call Fox News…I don’t pitch a fit and refuse to ever come back to another show.)…they had to demand it get pulled from the show.

OK. Um. But there’s no penis in that quilt. Seriously. There isn’t. There’s boobs and uteri and even a woman giving birth, but there’s no penis. None. I swear. I really don’t do a lot of penises and they’re bloody obvious when I do.

The quilt is I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket (did she think the life jacket was a condom? Because it wasn’t. It really was a life jacket. And there isn’t a life jacket in the quilt either, just to confuse things even more.) and it’s part of SAQA’s People and Portraits exhibit, which has been traveling for years and through more cities than I can count. And she didn’t object to the 5-inch vulva in the quilt next to it, Fully Medicated.

Oh don’t worry…I’ll give you a nice big picture so you can do a Where’s Waldo and find Waldo’s penis for me. Because it’s not in there.

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It’s one thing to be censored because of nudity. I don’t agree with that either, but at least it’s not uncommon. It’s another thing to be censored for something that’s not even there. So Michigan, I’m sorry, but if you go to the show and you wanted to see my quilt, you should tell management…since that’s how I got pulled. Someone complained to management and said they’d never come back to an AQS show. And we don’t know if I’ll be allowed to have this piece in QuiltWeek at Chattanooga or Des Moines, so that’s still up in the air. So if you’re planning on going to those shows, you might want to let them know you’re expecting to see my quilt. I’m not going to tell you not to go if they don’t show it. Just tell them you’re not happy about it.

I’m disappointed in AQS’ response. Maybe you are too. Here’s a link to the people in charge of AQS in general…I don’t know who made the decision at the show, but these are the people on high. I’m waiting until they make a decision on the next two shows before I write them. Someone said something to me about this being a quilt show, so I can’t expect art sensibilities…well if that’s the case, AQS needs to stop having art quilt exhibits at their shows or have a clear policy on subject matter (I checked their current show entry forms and there is nothing about that). Plus show me where on my quilt is the thing that the woman imagined was there. Because they took her word over mine. And there is no penis in the damn quilt.

It’s frustrating. I don’t fit in the quilt world because I do art. I don’t fit in the art world because I do quilts. Thanks to Martha Sielman (the author of the book People and Portraits) and SAQA for trying to stand up for my work. Shame on AQS for caving to imaginary issues.

My work was recently in an article about censorship, written by Tanya Brown, in Textile Fibre Forum Issue 122.  I’m not the only one being censored.

Traveling Art

I like it when my art travels, when the quilts get vacations away from my house and all the cat hair, when they get to hang free, not be rolled up in a sheet with a bunch of other quilts in the dark. It’s probably nicer for them to get some air, see some new people, experience new places. So I enter shows (OK, that’s not why I enter shows. You’re right). I’ve had a hard time lately getting into juried shows, with a variety of theories as to why, so some friends suggested some that I enter, and I did, and I’ve been rejected from every single one again. The last rejection came in yesterday from Extreme Fibers, which I actually expected, because I think they are looking for extreme technique, and not extreme images, and I don’t do anything extreme with technique, unless you keep track of how many pieces are in my quilts. That’s somewhat extreme.

It’s OK…there are at least three or four shows to enter this month (although one of them, I couldn’t find a single piece of mine that would work for the theme…always an issue). I’m not giving up. Besides, the ones that are already out there and traveling are getting more venues, and that’s never a bad thing.

Wise Choice is in Earth Stories, which will now be at the Kennedy Museum of Art, Ohio University, Athens, OH, from April 24-September 13, 2015, and even more exciting in terms of my being able to see it, at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, San Jose, CA, from November 6, 2015-February 28, 2016 (road trip!).

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I haven’t seen this show yet, so that will be cool.

I have two quilts in People and Portraits, which will now be traveling to the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, NY, from October 1-December 20, 2015. Here’s Fully Medicated

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And I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket

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Meanwhile, I sit at home, filling out college financial aid applications, trying to figure out how to pay for the rest of the kids’ college, getting texts from one about how a girl fell onto his laptop and now the display is messed up (ouch) and from the other about how she didn’t really use all the data for which the phone company would like to charge me. Uh huh. Right.

Really, I should stop thinking about all that crap and get going on the next step of whatever art quilt I’m working on (5 at a time at the moment) and enter the next batch of shows, because the real life stuff is kicking my butt at the moment. Unfortunately, first I have to go to school and take 110 kids on a field trip…so survival first…then art.

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.

Apparently Balanced

My brain is kind of drained at the moment. All the activities of the day have sucked out any relevant thoughts for now. I had plenty of them before. I’m not sure where they went. Maybe they got bored and wandered off.

It was a really busy day. I have duty before and after school for two weeks, which tends to suck up a lot of time and energy (morning duty at the tables? Makes me want to shoot myself. It’s early, I’m not really awake, it was bloody freezing this morning, and it’s all about picking up trash and their high energy vs my incredibly low energy at that hour and temperature…they win). We had a meeting about students, then I had tutorial after school, which is like herding peeing puppies who are constantly yapping and snapping at each other. I did manage to get work out of them today, though. Miraculous. It restores my faith every time they do that…I guess that’s why I can teach, because I constantly believe they can do it if I just work hard enough to persuade them to do it…and many of them DO. Freaky. We have meetings galore in the next two weeks to deal with kids and grades etc…which sucks up a lot of time too.

After school, I booked it to the girlchild’s soccer game. I’m actually glad I was only there for the last 27 minutes, because I almost froze in that short period of time, even though I remembered boots, two sweatshirts, and gloves (two sweatshirts were not enough). Plus I was trying to sew and had to take the gloves off. Mistake.

Home to make dinner…oh no, no you don’t…back to the ex’s house to retrieve Biology book and practice shorts while girlchild tries to get her head (and nauseous stomach) ready for tons of homework. She literally has tons of homework. Realized today that with ex gone for two weeks, I will have to provide dinner EVERY NIGHT. What the fuck? Shit. Not ready for that. Can barely manage what I’m doing now. Would let the girlchild cook, but she is buried in schoolwork. Need Meals on Wheels for busy working mom.

Made dinner, had argument (discussion? is it ever a discussion with two teenagers or is it always an argument?) about sexist portrayals in fiction. Read some examples. Confirmed sexism. Don’t know if I care…the books are good so far. Did grades for a while, then onto the bike for nightly exercise, followed by meditation aka crying and breathing. At the same time. A feat unknown to man? Well sure, but woman is pretty damn good at it. Then finally…49 minutes of cutting out pieces…

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I’m only 3 1/2 hours in. I’m not getting much time at night at the moment. Sucks. Not home enough. Anyway, I’m doing it. The green? Lungs. Yup. Aren’t your lungs green with pink flowers? I’m sure mine are. There are some bitchy pieces to cut out in that bin. If I’m tired, I just cut out the easy pieces and leave the hard ones for when I’m more awake. I think I’m hoping cutting fairies will come by and do those. I guess that’s unlikely.

Busy. Tired. Telling the brain to fuck off. Half of my brain says one thing, thinking logically, making plans and decisions, seeing the Big Picture. The other half is a fucked-up mess and is just flailing around in emotional crap so deep it can’t get out. It wants to draw. I almost let it tonight, but then I saw how late it was. Need to sleep. Maybe I will have time to draw tomorrow night…I’ll be minus the tutorial, the soccer game, and the grading…or will I? Huh. But I will add the gym. Another time sucker, but definitely a good cause. Trying to just sit in the emotional half of the brain and let it do what it needs to do. Either I’ll understand it more or the emotions will be less of an issue. Or something. Meditation helps. Even when I sit there thinking about 1-2 1/2 hours spent every night meditating and exercising, I wonder if that’s sustainable…it has to be. If it keeps me sane, keeps me moving, keeps me calmer, it’s worth it. So just do it. My priorities have changed. More art, less school. Less work at home. More exercise. Meditate. Fewer people (that might not be a good thing). Apparently cry…that’s a daily thing. I could do without that one. Wonder if I ever will.

This morning, as I was updating some of the website, I was feeling all cranky about only getting into 7 exhibits in 2013, but then I realized that it was 8 exhibits, and I already have pieces in 4 shows in 2014 and 2014 hasn’t even started yet. So shut up, stupid brain. You’re doing fine. Stop being such a mope about stuff. Make the work. The shows will come. And if they don’t? You will still make the work. That’s the logical half talking to the emotional half. They don’t really get along at the moment. The logic is frustrated with the emotion, and the emotion thinks the logic doesn’t listen…because hey, most of the time it doesn’t.

Here’s a video Luana Rubin of eQuilter did of the SAQA exhibits at IQF Houston, including People and Portraits

You can decide if that quilt is truly whimsical, or just plain old disturbing. Funny that it’s about being Fully Medicated, but I keep trying to get away from meds, and I keep having to take more. I should do one called Over Medicated, except I’m not. I have this Tshirt that says USDA Organic…which is ironic, because I’m not organic…I’m full of meds that keep my systems apparently balanced because my body doesn’t know how to, even though for half the ailments I have, I was told if I lost the weight, they would all go back to normal. Fucking liars. Well, the meds are supposed to keep everything balanced, but I don’t think I’m there yet…I’m freezing again. Under Medicated also might be fun to draw.

Apparently balanced: despite all the mindfucks that are going on at the moment, I seem to have found a balance between art and work that is somewhat functional: basically do very little grading at home. Do art every night. If there’s a question about how to use my time? Art wins. That’s sustainable. I hope.

People and Portraits Exhibit

I went to the Houston IQF show mostly because I had two pieces in the SAQA People & Portraits exhibit, which is based on Martha Sielman’s book Art Quilt Portfolio: People & Portraits. We got official pictures of the exhibit, which travels next to the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange, Texas, from January 9-March 30. Here was the entry to the exhibit at IQF.

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Turning directly to the left, the first artist is Margot Lovinger, who works in layers of sheers and tulle. Maria Elkins is next, with her portraits combined with traditional quilt patterns. The cover shot from the book is in the exhibit, but her more recent piece, Surrender, has a heartbreaking story that goes with it here.

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Next comes Margene Gloria May, whose portraits are made from a variety of different fabrics, including a wrinkled shirt and tie in the piece on the right.

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Joan Sowada‘s work is next, with overlapping views of skateboarders and a closeup of a loving couple.

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Lori Lupe Pelish‘s work has fascinated me for years, with the busy fabrics she uses to make up her portraits. There are two pieces here: the mother and child on the left, and then a quadtych (is that a word?) of 4 pieces. Her work requires closeup viewing and then a step away for the big picture.

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Pat Kumicich‘s work is in your face. These aren’t pretty portraits…you need to take a closeup look.

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Cheryl Dineen Ferrin does portraits of people she meets or knows, especially in motorcycle groups.

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Pam RuBert‘s pieces always have some sense of humor or a pun that draws you in. Jenny Bowker‘s work has recently focused on people she met in a variety of countries, including Egypt.

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Sherry Davis Kleinman uses a variety of pencils and paints to create her portraits on fabric.

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Sonia Bardella uses paints and patterned fabric to make her portraits.

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Lora Rocke uses thread painting to make her portraits, whereas Carol Goddu uses vintage and fancy fabrics to dress her dancers.

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Bodil Gardner‘s quilts are always happy, and often use recycled fabrics. Ulva Ugerup‘s quilts are small, but have lots of impact and hand embroidery.

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Yoshiko Kurihara’s quilts seem to be about parties, with all the characters very stylized and angular, yet also faceless.

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Next to Kurihara were Mary Pal‘s cheesecloth portraits of the homeless.

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Around the corner were Viola Burley Leak‘s graphic portraits.

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I shared a corner with Leni Levinson Wiener‘s pieces.

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Last of all, my two: Fully Medicated on the left and I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket on the right.

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What I loved about this exhibit (besides being in it) was the variety of work within the theme of people and portraits. There were many styles represented, but all the pieces were technically well done and each artist had a singular voice, which is apparent in the exhibit. We were allowed to choose the two pieces in the exhibit from those chosen for the book, although a few of the pieces in the show are not in the book, Elkin’s piece Surrender being one of those. Owning the book is one thing: seeing these pieces in person is an entirely different experience. If you missed IQF and can’t make it to La Grange, Texas, they will be in Birmingham, England in August 2014 and will be traveling after that. I’ll let you know future venues as they are added…definitely worth seeing.

I should add that all photos were taken by Gregory Case; the exhibition information can also be seen here on the SAQA website, this being a SAQA-sponsored exhibit.