Monday, May 5, 2014

Rolling out the Fiber Art: Conventions, Receptions, and Inspirations

The past few days have rolled out a lot of fiber art. From May 1 to 4, my buddy Carol and I participated in the annual convention of the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), a 3300-member international organization for serious art quilters,  in Alexandria, Virginia, outside Washington, DC.  A mere two hours after arriving back in Hartford, Carol and I got in our cars and drove an hour to Norfolk, CT, in Connecticut's northwest hills, for a reception for the Connecticut Fiber Arts Collective's group show, Northwest Corner, in the town's public library.

 The SAQA convention was exhilarating and exhausting, inspiring and intimidating.  Seriously.  As exhilarated as I was by meeting so many other quilters and looking at some exquisite fiber art, I was also exhausted by almost nonstop socializing.  As inspired as I was by looking at the work of some of the best fiber artists in the country and world, work unique in its vision and stunning in its use of color, I was also intimidated by the high standard of artistry and workmanship...and by conference speakers' advice that we art quilters start thinking like the CEOs of our own businesses.

On the inspiration scorecard:  here are a couple of socks-knocking pieces, which I offer as examples of the dozens of art quilts at the convention, in galleries and on slides. 

Take a look at Mary Pal's work.  She works in--can you believe this?  stiffened and hand-sculpted cheesecloth.

Avo by Mary Pal
And look at this waving fabric sea grass, or kelp, by a fiber artist named Natalie Shudt,, whose three-dimensional fiber creations we saw at the Torpedo Factory, an art center combining artists' studios, classroom space, and a gallery.

So you can get the gist of the double-edged inspiration and intimidation emanating from this work.  Some of the conference message was intimidating, too, in its focus on the business side of art.  True,  that kind of talk was appropriate to the theme of the conference, Capitolizing on Fiber.  It's a pun: the conference program offerings focused on the business side of fiber arts--or capitalizing one's art--and the meeting took place in the nation's capitol.  Right?

One of the speakers told us to put on our CEO hats as soon as we got up in the morning.

I'm not there yet.

Still, there was fun in socializing with established friends and meeting new ones.

Here I am with the gang from Connecticut.  That's me, second from right--you can see my waving hand and a slice of my head.

I went to the conference for the networking and the schmoozing and the learning, but also for the opportunity to meet with some folks with, and for whom, I've worked, remotely, for years, in my capacity as a free-lance writer for the Society for Human Resource Management, (SHRM)  SHRM is headquartered there in Alexandria, and so, once I sent in my conference registration, I made arrangements to meet face to face with Margaret Clark, a SHRM employee who, like me, is a lawyer, a product of a Catholic upbringing, married to a Jew, and a resident or former resident of West Hartford, Connecticut. Margaret and bonded around these things, and around parental late-life care issues, over dinmer at Alexandria's Taverna Cretekou

After my dinner with Margaret and exhilarating but exhausting experience at the SAQA conference, my travel buddy Carol and I flew back to Hartford on Sunday May 4, arriving around noon.  After a two-hour pitstop, we drove northwest into the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains to Norfolk. CT, where, as part of our membership in the CT Fiber Arts Collective, Carol and I were participating in a fiber art show, Northwest Corner, at the Norfolk Public Library.

It's a real privilege for our art to hang in this lovely old building. 

Take a look at this barrel-vaulted ceiling, this custom woodwork  When's the last time any of us saw a public library built of such materials and with such an expansive use of space?

One of my favorite features of the library: the Latin inscription on the mantel,
Inter Folia Fructus.  Among the leaves, fruit.  Another pun:  the leaves are leaves of books, and the fruit is the product that the reader gleans from them.  Also, in nature, fruit does grow among leaves.  Right?

Sometimes I'm glad I studied Latin.

Here are six of the ten members of the CT Fiber Arts Collective, those of us who were able to get ourselves to Norfolk for the reception.  Front row, left to right, Karen Loprete and Antonia Torres.  Back row:  Rosalind Spann, Christina Blais, Diane Cadrain, Carol Vinick.

Here are the library volunteers who made the reception a reality.  Thanks, ladies!

L to R, Leslie Battis, Mary Ford-Bey, Angie Engle, and Sally Briggs.
The reception was gratifyingly well-attended
...and our art was universally well-received.

A woman whose daughter is about to be married at Norfolk's Infinity Hall bought Christina Blais' finely-tuned rendering of its funky old building. Congratulations, Christina!

In addition, Mary Lachman sold her small quilt Sea Grass  & Waves, Karen Loprete sold a table runner, and I sold a string of felted beads.

I also had two art quilts in the show: 

 This one is a view of a folk-art roadside signpost in the center of Norfolk.

This is a view of a rustic Norfolk fence that wends its crooked way past a grassy field called, I believe, the Town Meadow.

And what a lot of skilled artistry from my sister CFAC members.

Here's Rosalind Spann with Stella's Violin:

Here's Antonia Torres with Winter Red:

Here's Carol Vinick, wearing one of her own hand-dyed scarves, posing with her image of the Norfolk Library under a load of snow:

And here's Karen Loprete with My Secret Garden:

After the reception, Carol and I drove back to West Hartford for our real lives: hers as an APRN, mine as a lawyer turned journalist writing for the Society for Human Resource Management.

And we're getting ready for our upcoming shows, of which there are many, starting with Jazz Tones at Hartford's 100 Pearl Street Gallery from June 15 to August 23

At the moment, though, I better unpack that suitcase.

No comments:

Post a Comment