Monday, March 06, 2006



Home for a minute!
It's great to be back home in the loving arms of Dave and not great to be back home in a snow storm, which while beautiful, is a nasty turn of events after being in gorgeous Florida last week.
Booo!
Not being willing to pay $7 a day for internet access (on principal!) I was offline all week and had to wait until last night when I got home to get back online. Then the Oscars then distracted me so I waited til this morning to read all the blogs I missed and to evaluate my New Jersey show.
Here's the bottom line. I love love love teaching. I loved connecting with my students and playing with them in class and getting to know them at lunch. Because of a snow scare in NJ, several registrants stayed home so the 25 spots were reduced to 18 one day and 13 the next, making for a very intimate group setting. Then Saturday, I taught two sessions of machine quilting and since the snow never really happened, all attended, filling 25 spots in the morning and another 25 at the afternoon session. Then I gave a lecture after that, so my mouth got a real workout.
On Friday I was able to see my exhibit and the rest of the quilt show. The winners from the Mid-Atlantic quilt show were on display, which was great since I was not able to attend that show, and was so happy to see the great work that won all the awards. I saw several pieces from people I know, and was so pleased at the recognition they so richly deserved.
It gave me pause however... I had this feeling, which may be difficult to express here, but I will give it a try. When one is beginning to enter quilt contests, one is willing to go for more and more, or willing to put the whipped cream, the nuts and the cherry on the quilt and spend months and months perfecting every little thing before sending it off to be judged. These quilts have a tour de force quality to them and are fully loaded with every trick the quilter knows. It is very impressive. Exhausting, amazing and impressive.
I know the feeling of making something like this, and I just don't want to do it anymore.
This was a big realization for me. For years I loved the race, the competition, the process, the award winning, but somehow, it all seems to be over for me in my heart. I just haven't the enthusiasm for jumping through the hoops that I once had.
I still love making the quilts. But I want them to be somehow different. I want the motive to be different. I need to make them for other reasons.
The quilts I will be making from now on will be the kind that will be loved not for the pyrotechnics but for the satisfaction of enjoying the process, the design and the color...just for my own satisfaction. I will probably still enter them, for a myriad of reasons, sharing, participating in showing new work, and for the fact that I am happy with the product. But I wish to step back and just make work that pleases me. I have lost interest in tap dancing as fast as I can, tired of trying to prove something...
That said, here are some shots of the exhibit I had in New Jersey. I sent in 16 large pieces, which have never been shown together before. Three pieces were made just for this show.



Moonstruck which was made in '97 I think. 62"x80, fused, hand dyed and machine quilted. The piece looked pretty good here and hung straight, always a plus.

Parallel Paths which was my Visions piece from '96 I think. A bit of a curl at the edges from being rolled up in my closet all these years.

Ringscycle #? hung in the same bay. It has not been exhibited very often, but it was nicely lit and the silk looked pretty good.

Tropicana was creased and the rod pocket was skimpy, because I had reduced it to hang on a smaller rod at home, and forgot that I had done that. The huge rods at the quilt shows take up all that ease and make the top roll in an icky way. Not good.

Leaf Light looked positively awful. The angle of the lights made every wrinkle OBVIOUS and my heart sank. I wanted to rip it right off the rod and hide it from view. This quilt hangs in my living room regularly and looks just perfect there. I was sick when I saw how horrible it looked there.

But wait, there were worse things to come. Croton, in the actual light in which it hung. Need I say more?

This was Cruciform #1 RED. The light was behind the quilt and only one bottom corner was in the light. One had to pick up the quilt (verboten) to see what it really looks like. The same bad lighting situation happened to Green and The Dance, which I will not even bother to post.

While I was grateful to have the opportunity to have the exhibit, at the same time, I was so disappointed at the lighting. I understand the restrictions of the site, and the fact that all the quilts in the show had similar chance of being in the good light or not. This is not the first time this has happened and I know it has also happened to you when you entered a quilt you dearly loved and saw it hanging in the dark.
There is a problem with these halls and convention centers, since they are not art venues, but we as quilters are so willing to overlook the bad lighting and don't make waves about it. Would men take this sitting down? You tell me.

25 comments:

  1. Well it looks nice. I hope you had lots of great feedback. I am sure you are exhausted!!

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  2. Regardless of how you feel it looked, it looked awesome to the rest of us.

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  3. As usual, you are so insightful! Have a wonderful day at home.

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  4. I wonder....

    The new works, specifically the Cruciform series, are so very different from your earlier works that I wonder if those who hung the show chose to place the more familiar representative pieces in the better light. The choice might even have been unconscious.

    I look at the first four photographs and think that they would have much more appeal to mainstream quilters, hence would have been placed in the more advantageous positions.

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  5. Thank you Melody for taking us to the show with you. I'm sorry that there was the problem with the lighting.

    I've missed you! Glad to have you back, and I agree, this snow is a drag. It is suppose to warm up to the upper 50's though, so hopefully this is the last of the snow for us.

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  6. Your adoring fans know that your quilts are beautiful - we can see thru the bad lighting to the creative artist.
    I do enjoy reading your blog and agree with so many of the things you say about being an artist. Thanks for putting them "on paper" for all to ponder.

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  7. Wow! I saw some quilts I hadn't seen before - very illuminating to see your journey. I'm liking your recent work much more.

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  8. Pity about the lighting. As far as making quilts because you want to do that design, or you need to get those ideas out, I'm right with you on that. I am not exhibiting at present (ok,ok, I haven't been finishing anything due to the accident), but I fully expect noses to be turned up at my work. I am not making these pieces to fit an exhibition category, or because I think they'll appeal to the masses, but because they are WHAT I WANT TO DO.

    Shirley in New Zealand

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  9. I wonder too if art quilters were entering more mixed media fine art shows if we would be more concerned with the "art" rather than mastering the techniques one much achieve to win prizes in quilt shows.

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  10. You should only be working to please yourself.... and those of us your faithful readers and fans... but we love everything you do. On the same note... none of your quilts should be kept in a closet. I can store some on my walls!!!!

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  11. You should only be working to please yourself.... and those of us your faithful readers and fans... but we love everything you do. On the same note... none of your quilts should be kept in a closet. I can store some on my walls!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Contessa Mydknight3:13 PM

    Quilts like our children are able to act up at home,but when they go out into the world they are expected to reflect all the good upbringing we have given them,and like family we love them inspite of their darkside and wrinkles.Welcome back.

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  13. Mel, I went to the show and thought the facility was appalling. The lighting was really bad, the floor was uncovered stained old concrete. The labeling for each quilt was T pinned (sometimes cockeyed) next to each quilt. It made me realize that it is time for you and other fine artists to become a tad more demanding and let show organizers know that your art is available for show only if well lit, well labeled, and well cared for. Maybe I am a bit spoiled and used to the way things are done at Houston and so expect a quality show. This show was lacking in many ways. It was a just a bare bones, slap dash, poor excuse for a quilt show. I enjoyed seeing your quilts but should have brought a flashlight so I could see them better.

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  14. I totally agree with a couple points here. Firstly, art should always please the maker first.Why take all the time and effort otherwise? Secondly, this wasnt a local guild show with limited venue resources. Of course the lighting should have been better. Time to let the organizers know quilt exhibitors are indeed a force to be reckoned with.Summon the inner diva or whatever you call her!I'm so happy you had a meaningful exchange with your students. There's nothing like connecting on that level.I know that's why I have to check all the cool creative blogs everyday!

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  15. Well, it all looks great to me. Ringcycle is AMAZING! I always enjoy reading your blog.

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  16. So make art for the pure joy of making art, and nothing more. It's a very good thing.

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  17. Sounds like the advice I'm getting about being an artist. I think, in our culture (or maybe universally) people need to see someone following their heart, or whatever leads them, wherever it leads them. People need to see joy demonstrated. We are unsatisfied with art that gets made for other purposes. Do what brings you joy and you wont be able to hide it. And it will appeal.
    Ak. The quilts could have been displayed better. I don't think anyone looks at that situation and blames the artist, but they are robbed of some measure of inspiration or pleasure in those circumstances. Too bad.

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  18. Mel,
    Can you beleive what Brooke wrote?

    WOW!!

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  19. I know how to spell believe ok?

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  20. I hope you were teaching in a room with better lighting than this. I dropped in for a NJ minute to see the show and the lighting was gawdawful - worse than bad! The lighting is the PITS in these pipe and drape shows, particularly this one and Fort Washington. This is why I don't put my work in any of these shows - and if we all boycotted them and let them know why, maybe - just maybe they would care.

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  21. I agree 100% with Liza. Half-assed displaying is unacceptible. If a venue cannot show your work well, you would be better off not showing at that venue.

    Re: making the art. Always make it for yourself (yeah, listen to me- the expert). But, it's the only way I can work. When I don't like a piece it's impossible for me to work on it any longer.

    teri

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  22. Melody, You've outgrown the pipe and drape circuit. Your work deserves much better.

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  23. Lisa, we've all outgrown the pipe and drape circuit.

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  24. I bed to differ with both Rayna and Lisa. Houston is a "pipe and drape" and the quality of that show is fantastic. I surely hope that none of you have outgrown that show. It is where thousands (including me) can see your work beautifully hung and well lit.

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Hello,
So nice of you to drop by. I love your comments, and if you would really like a reply, please email me at fibermania at g mail dot com