Last week I attended a symposium put on by the PA group of SAQA (Studio Art Quilters Association). It was a well-attended and lively event! It coincided with the opening of the Elements Quilt show at the Wayne Art Center. I was one of the four speakers at the event; here is a synopsis synopsis of my talk .
We moved to Charlottesville about three years ago. When we moved, I left the communities I had built back in Wisconsin. It has been an adventure developing new communities of friends and support here in C'ville! The talk I gave at the symposium was about that search, the many places I have found community, and the different benefits of each of them. The four communities I addressed were the "Remote Communities" I have plugged into through social media or mass communication, the "Community of Self" which I found during my stint as an artist in residence at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the "Community of (non-fiber) Artists" which I have found at McGuffey Art Center, and the "Community of (local) Fiber Artists".
These are the communities that I first sought out after relocating. They are on the web, in Facebook Groups, on the magazine rack at Barnes and Noble, and in national and international organizations. I found information about shows and exhibits both to enter and to attend in many of the magazines, and artist call websites.
Groups like SAQA and Quilts.com were great places to see names, learn news and generally plug in.
The exhibit entries I first made were to the monthly calls in Quilting Arts magazine. As a graphic designer, I had a forty year history of meeting deadlines and being give a design problem to solve, so this was familiar territory to me. I have entered many of the IQF and SAQA shows because they gave me a stepping off place for a project. It was looking at these artist calls, that I found the art residency that formed my the next community.
Community of Self (or learning to commune with oneself)
During my adult life I have lived alone almost never. So finding myself accepted (very unexpectedly) to a 30 day residency in a national park was both a surprise, and a totally new experience for me.
This experience was valuable on many levels. Obviously it was beautiful - there is nothing quite like the Smokys in October! (and for day-by-day reporting on that experience just click on "Local: Smoky Mountain Residency" on the right of this page), but beyond that, it pushed me to think without structure. It set the foundation for my first work done as a series instead of one off. This is something that I now regularly do. It put me in an unfamiliar situation of total freedom and self reliance. And once you have experienced that, it is hard to put the genie back in the bottle! For a view of the work that came out of this experience click here.
Then it was back home to join my third community. That of a general art community.
As a resident member of MAC I am always under the influence of other artists. We talk about techniques, I see their subject matter, we have group shows and there is that general energy from the camaraderie of fellow creatives!
This past year, I and two other artists put on a collaborative show... not a show where we each showed out individual work, but a true collaboration of ideas and work on each project. The show was success and the experience an one that has expanded my thinking and will affect my work for sometimes. To see more of the work from this show click here.
This community has helped me to keep me going and strengthened my general artistic muscles, while the fourth community has helped me hone my fiber skills!
Community of Fiber Artists
This last group is my sisterhood! This is a group of six of us fiber artist who gather monthly for general check-in and also show together as a group or as parts of the group. We each have out own styles that are very different from each other, but because of that, we learn a lot from each other. We are all serious about our work, and some teach workshops, we all show regularly on our own, and some also work with other media. One is primarily an eco-dyer who then incorporates her dyed piece into wall and book art, one is a printmaker who incorporates her prints into her fiber art, and one is presently doing 3-d fiber sculptures. But we all use needle and thread and fabric. to see some of our work and bios, click here.
A couple of months ago, we spent a week together in a house on the beaches of North Carolina. It was so good to learn more about each other both personally and artistically. And of course, eat and drink together!
Here is hoping you can find your communities. Step outside your media, Take some time for self reflection. Peruse the magazine sections, and on-line groups, join some organizations, and and find local groups. Grow, interact. have fun!
If you are really into history, click here for blog posts prior to 2014 !