Sunday, September 7, 2008

Amazing Art Quilts!

I just returned from a wonderful weekend full of quilts, classes, and catching up with fiber arts friends.

The quaint town of Staunton, Virgina (above) is at the center of the month-long celebration of quilts called "Quilts: Past, Present & Future." Studio Art Quilt Associates' (SAQA) yearly conference for the VA/NC/SC region was held Sept. 5-6 in conjunction with this event.

Before I get into the details, I want to publicly thank our regional SAQA reps, Martha Bruin Degan and Jill Jensen, who must have done an incredible amount of work on this event and the conference. They should be VERY proud of what they accomplished. (THANK YOU, Martha and Jill!!!)

I traveled with friend and fellow fiber artist Nancy G. Cook about 4-1/2 hours north from Charlotte to attend the festivities. Nancy had a piece in the main SAQA exhibit, and we were eager to see it and to celebrate. Nancy is a long-time SAQA member and has been a wonderful mentor and fiber arts friend to me in the past few years.

On Friday morning, we went to Rachel's Quilt Patch, a lovely quilt shop in the old train station in Staunton, and met with quilt appraisers to have some of our work appraised. I've never had my work appraised, and was interested to observe the process and learn why I should. Neva Hart, an appraiser from Hardy, Va., took notes on my work while this cutie watched:

I'll receive the appraisal later via mail. She gave me good information about why it was wise to get appraisals and to have my work insured in case of loss or damage, and allowed me to ask lots of questions about the process and what she looks for when appraising an art quilt.

Next, I packed up my piece, "Harbinger's Hope," and shipped it off to Houston, where it will be in the International Quilt Festival at the end of October. Then Nancy and I set out to see just a few of the exhibitions of art quilts and traditional quilts in Staunton, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, Dayton and Weyers Cave. We really didn't have time to see very much, but we did make sure to catch Jill Jensen's solo exhibition at the Augusta Medical Center in Fishersville.

Here is her "Canticle of Creation: Mother Earth":

and a detail shot:

This is Jill's work "Rainbow Forest":

That evening, we attended the opening of "SAQA: Amazing Art Quilts" at the Staunton Augusta Art Center. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts helped fund the exhibit, which included 30 pieces by members of three SAQA regions (VA/NC/SC, TN,/KY, and MD/PA/WVA/DC). Amazing Art Quilts was aptly named; the quilts really were amazing.

Here is Mary Beth Bellah with her work "Holding Both Ends from the Middle":

As usual, Mary Beth's work is easy to spot because of her cool 3-D hands, and gorgeous color and surface embellishment.

Joni Feddersen got a chance to talk with the exhibition's judge, Ulysses Desportes, about her piece:

See that little blue dot under Joni's "Lava Flow"? It's there because Desportes had purchased Joni's work after completing the judging! She was thrilled.

This is Primitive Door Series #33, Fran's Barn" by Vita Marie Lovett of Maryville, Tenn.:

Lovett's diminuitive pieces are rich in machine thread painting that almost covers the surface, making them amazingly tactile when viewed up close, yet very photographic when viewed from a distance. (You can see the other piece of Lovett's work, "Hidden Hinge," in the exhibition in the previous shot of Joni and the judge.)

Martha Bruin Degan had this work, "IED," in the exhibit:

I've only seen a few pieces of Martha's work in person, but find it fascinating to contemplate because of all the hand surface work and embroidery, and because of the interesting, sometimes disturbing, images contained in it, which raise interesting political and social questions.

Here is Susan Webb Lee's "Log Cabin Remodel," a traditional log cabin block turned on its head:

And the always joyful and upbeat Dottie Moore, celebrating in front of her "All Shapes, Sizes, and Colors," with 36 lovely miniature tree portraits:

Here's Nancy G. Cook with “Mimosa Dancing,” which I love for its sense of mystery and elegant portrayal of the mimosa tree’s spectacular leaves and seed pods:

Mary Stoudt's "Vorgetauscht" won a Judge's Choice Award and $200. I was fascinated with this piece, which had multiple layers of fabric, some added on top, some cut away. I like to play a little game when I go to quilt shows, museums or exhibitions … If I can't afford to buy any of the artwork, I ask myself, "If I could grab one piece and run out the door, and get away with it, which one would it be?" It was hard to decide this time, but this is the piece I'd choose:

(And no, I wouldn't really steal a piece of art... it is purely a hypothetical question!)

"Teach Us To Pray" by Russ Little had small pieces of fabric stitched down to the quilted surface that fluttered because the air conditioning vent was positioned right below it, making it fun to watch during the awarding of prizes:

Catherine Kleeman's glowing "Summer Solstice" won a Judge's Choice Award and $200:

"Variations On A Fabric" by Judith Lundberg won Best in Show and a $750 prize:

Here are two detail shots of "Variations" showing the beautiful stitching:

On Saturday, I took a fun shibori dyeing class from Julia Pfaff, a fiber artist who teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University. Here she is (on the far left), accompanied by two students, instructing us:

The white tubes have fabric wrapped around them, tied in place and then scrunched down.

Bev agitates the dye bath:

Here are some of the pole-wrapped pieces after their first dye bath, with one single-color piece that had been clamped next to it:

Francine stays tidy in her rubber gloves, even when drinking her iced coffee:

After class we put our fabric into our hotel room bathroom sink for one last soak and then went off to dinner. Afterward, we ironed them dry. Nancy made this luscious blue/red piece:

And here are some of mine. This one – my favorite – was done by stitching straight and curvy lines with heavy thread across a fat quarter of white cotton, then pulling the thread tight and knotting it before dunking it in the black dye bath. Took a long time but well worth it. I want to do lots of this next time I dye.

And here are a few more I completed in class using folding and clamping methods:

I had done some shibori before, but Julia taught me a lot of new techniques, more about the history of shibori, and a lot about dyeing in general. The class had a blast.

What an amazing weekend! If you can get to the Staunton area this month to see some of the exhibits, go!