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

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