Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Art Quilt Elements 2016

Lisa Kijak, Odyssey Liquor, Long Beach, 59" x 39"
While I was in Philadelphia, I had the opportunity to attend the opening reception for Art Quilt Elements 2016 (AQE) at the Wayne Art Center in Wayne, PA. The show was juried by Bruce Pepich, the executive director of the Racine Art Museum.  Bruce selected 66 pieces from 500 entries to produce an amazing show. There was an interesting mix of figurative and abstracted works, large and small scale art, and pieces that pushed off of the wall into sculpture. This is a beautiful exhibition. I hope you get the chance to visit before it closes on April 30, 2016.

The Wayne Art Center is a gorgeous space with soaring white walls, wood floors and warm wood accents. It is spacious and beautifully lit. The exhibit was held in two of the galleries in the art center and the space comfortably housed a well attended opening.


The venue can accommodate very large pieces, which is refreshing. Elizabeth Brandt’s Selected Stories and Dinah Sargeant’s Spirit Dogs Greet the Ghosts were amazingly grand and impressive.

Elizabeth BrandtSelected Stories, 88” x 89”,
flanked by artwork from Niraja C. Lorenz and Lisa Kijak

Dinah Sargeant, Spirit Dogs Greet the Ghosts, 58” x 128”
The downside of including such large pieces, however, is that they take up so much wall space. I have come to expect more visual space around individual works in a gallery setting, so the show felt tightly packed, particularly in the smaller gallery. There were several instances where artwork was salon hung, one on top of the other, which I didn’t love. I think the show would have benefited from further editing to give it more room to breathe.

An example of salon hanging. Artwork from Marti Plager,
Desiree Habicht, Sara Drower, and Susan Callahan 

As expected, my favorite pieces from the show had interesting surface details that drew me in. There were so many richly textured pieces that caught my eye and I found myself returning to them again and again.
Shin-hee Chin, In-Between: In Search of Identity, 50” x 60”

detail image, Shin-hee Chin, In-Between: In Search of Identity
Shin-hee Chin’s In-Between: In Search of Identity is beautifully constructed. Her work is so consistently captivating and show stopping. It is no surprise that she was granted an award for her piece.

Marianne BurrEleven 3 Eleven, 43” x 32”
detail image, Marianne BurrEleven 3 Eleven
I’m always impressed with the hand stitching in Marianne Burr’s work. The colors in this piece vibrated and I loved the movement she created with her line work. This piece honors the lives of those impacted by the 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Japan and devastation at Fukushima in 2011.

Naomi S. AdamsKindred, 36” x 42” x 3”

detail image, Naomi S. AdamsKindred
Kindred by Naomi S. Adams crosses into sculpture as it stands 3” off of the wall in interesting folds and forms. I very much enjoyed examining this one up close. The shape of the work and my experience changed vastly depending on the viewing angle.

Brigitte KoppToo Tired To…, 58” x 49”

detail image, Brigitte KoppToo Tired To…
I first discovered Brigitte Kopp’s work at Quilt National 13. This piece, Too Tired To…, has such interesting details. From the red embroidered figures to the intriguing use of latex, there was so much to engage with visually.


The artists received a complimentary catalog, which is a lovely touch.  As a former graphic designer, I look at every detail of the catalog layout. There was a lot that I loved about the catalog. My favorite part was how thoughtfully works were chosen for spreads. Whether based on complimenting colors or formats, time was clearly spent choosing works that looked great together. With 66 pieces in the show, that was a pretty significant task.

The quality of the photographs is excellent. The photographs are all artist submitted images, so it really shows how important quality images are for jurying. There were very few pieces that didn’t match the artwork precisely. The pictures are crisp and clear. I wish there were detail images, but the smaller format doesn’t really leave room for them.

The artist statement for each piece is included in the catalog. Personally, I like being able to read about inspiration behind an artwork. I know that art is supposed to speak for itself, but I like being able to gain insight into how a piece fits into a larger body of work.

One of the things that I didn’t love was the inconsistency with placement of the text. The artist statements, titles, techniques and materials bounce all over the page. Part of this is due to the size and the format of the book and the desire to show the largest images of the art as possible, which I appreciate. But personally, I like it to be uniform and consistent from page to page. Thumbing through the catalog quickly felt a little dizzying.

It is hard to get a sense of the scale of the works from a printed catalog or photographs. You miss the texture and dimension of the fabric and stitch. However, I would still strongly recommend purchasing the catalog. It documents the show very well and I am so very pleased to add it to my bookshelf.

Overall, I am thrilled to be a part of such a strong exhibition. If you are in the area, please make sure to stop in and see it before it closes. I promise, you won’t regret it.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Studio Art Quilt Associates Conference 2016

I recently attended the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) conference in Philadelphia. This is the third conference I have attended and each year, after the conference has ended, I find myself reflecting on what makes the experience of getting together with hundreds of textile artists so meaningful to me personally.

Primarily, I go to conferences to meet other artists. My studio is in our home and I usually work late at night after my family is asleep. I find that working this way can feel very isolating. I can get lost in my work and stuck in my head. So, I think its important for me to get out of the studio from time to time in order to grow as an artist and gain inspiration. Conferences push me to talk about my art and I benefit from hearing others talk about their art, processes and marketing efforts. I walk away energized and eager to get back into the studio. It is probably what I like most about being a member of SAQA, these opportunities to get together and network with artists like me, who understand the medium and why I work in fabric.

There were so many favorite moments and special conversations at the conference, I couldn’t possibly cover all of them. So I will just touch on a few highlights:

Snyderman-Works Gallery
As a Juried Artist Member (JAM), I was invited to a special tour of the Snyderman-Works Gallery to meet owners Ruth and Rick Snyderman. The Snyderman-Works Gallery is one of the oldest exhibiting galleries in the field of contemporary craft, which made meeting them a particular honor. They are currently exhibiting their 10th Textile Biennial, which was full of one amazing piece after another. It was so inspiring. Hearing them talk about the work, the gallery and the artists they have met, you can tell how passionate they are about contemporary craft. Rick and Ruth both mentioned how the artists they represent become friends and family, and some of the artists in their shows have been friends with them for 50+ years.  It was a wonderful experience.

Ruth and Rick Snyderman discussing the exhibit

interior of the gallery, with works by Gerhardt Knodel anNorma Minkowitz

Marilyn Pappas, Nike and the Life of Beauty, Cotton, Gold Thread on Linen, 102" x 59", 2006 

Piper Shepard, Only Their Silhouettes, hand cut muslin,gesso, graphite and aluminum armature, 8' x 8', 2015
detail image, Piper Shepard, Only Their Silhouettes

One of my favorite works from the exhibit was Dream by Mi-Kyoung Lee.  I just love the use of found objects and the rich shadows her piece creates.
Mi-Kyoung LeeDream, Knotted Twist Ties, 37" x 34" x 21", 2015 
detail image, Mi-Kyoung LeeDream
PechaKucha Talks
This year, SAQA also invited members to create short PowerPoint presentations of 20 slides. The slides automatically advanced after 20 seconds, so each topic was under 7 minutes long. The range of topics was fascinating and the level of professionalism was impressive. I sat through all 24 presentations. It was that riveting. Personally, I was most interested in the presentations that discussed process or inspiration. I am always curious about how and why artists create. I found the presentations by Heather Pregger, Jill Kerttula and Amy Meissner, in particular, to be thoughtfully produced and insightful. Thank you to all of the presenters for their hard work and for sharing so much of themselves.

In addition to these moments we had amazing speakers and lots of opportunities to see great art*. Sigh. It was all over too soon. How did the weekend go by so quickly?

*While I was writing this post, I realized that I have a lot more to say about the art I saw while in Philadelphia than would reasonably fit in one post. So I will be writing separate reviews of Art Quilt Elements, the Barnes Foundation, and Philadelphia's Magic Gardens. Look for them in the next few days.

This week I am thankful for:
2. being cancer free for six years
3. Free ebooks from the library
4. good morning hugs from my girls
5. the support of my family