2020 So Far
It is nearly the end of April, and already this year has felt like three. In the fall of 2019 I decided to take time off from traveling to teach and focus on new work and developing new classes. I never anticipated that in-person teaching would be a longer-term impossibility, but here we are in a global pandemic. I’m way overdue for a catch-up post.
In January I signed up to participate in an 8-week artist critique group through the Artist/Mother community. I thought that it would push my perspective and my work onto a stronger artistic footing. I was in a group with three painters, as was our mentor A’Driane Nieves (who is a total badass awesome human), and I had such an inferiority complex. I’d been in some art world situations where people had dismissed quilts as art, and I worried about my lack of formal education. But they were incredibly warm, welcoming, encouraging, and my difference became my strength. I realized that I already am an artist, I don’t need to change myself or my process. I just need to keep going and exploring and making and submitting. My mentality was holding me back. Check out the other artists if you’re curious: Alicia Ethridge, Marcy Parks, Paola Pimentel.
In February I went to QuiltCon in Austin, Texas. I had a small quilt, Swell, in the show, but no other real mission other than connecting with other people. It was a very successful mission. I spent lovely meals with friends old and new. I went to lectures where I met new friends and talked with them about the ideas that were presented. I especially loved hanging out with Sara Trail from the Social Justice Sewing Academy because of her energy and passion for the kids she works with and her advocacy for a more equitable quilt show experience.
In March we locked down for social distancing. Getting used to online school for the kids took a lot of my energy at first, along with the general anxiety about the state of the world and extreme sadness for all that would not be happening in the future. But I worked a lot on the quilting phase of my entirely hand-made quilt (extensively documented on my Instagram feed), which is so helpful for sitting with hard feelings and processing through them. I also learned how to sew fabric masks, which come with lots of complicated feelings about why they are needed in the first place.
In April as schedules solidified, I started thinking about ways to sew through my feelings while also documenting this unprecedented time. I turned to some old fingerprint improv pieces that had three black pieces and three white ones, and I realized that they were an apt metaphor for our days at home. They have the same plan with minor variations and different emotional curves.
Today another project comes into the world through the MQG’s Keep Calm and Sew On programming. It’s a worksheet for planning an improv project using something I call Character Improv.My students know that I can talk about my fabric as though it has a personality (many of them do), but this is an improv framing device that casts your fabric as characters that interact in different moments together as you piece segments of a bigger quilt.
I hope you are safe and as well as you can be. Take care.