03 April 2016
Report from Philadelphia, #3
Written by Chris Nielsen
More reasons to attend a SAQA conference:
9. The weather!! I don't need to say more.
10. The opportunity to see great art quilts. The silent auction was held last night and it was exciting. Every year there are a few pieces that spark a bidding war and that buzz is fun. But for the rest of us it is like a giant trunk show. We get the privilege of picking up and examining work by people whose names we might know and those who we want to get to know.
Each year the conference organizers set aside time so that all the participants can travel together to see a major exhibition of art quilts. This year we saw Art Quilt Elements at the Wayne Art Centre. There were 66 pieces in this year's show and I learned something from each of them. There is no substitute for seeing textile art in person. Much of the most important detail is lost in photographs. Even so, I purchased a catalogue which I will be happy to share with you.
The 2017 conference is gong to be held in Nebraska in collaboration with the International Quilt Study Center. A new SAQA show called Layered Voices will open at the IQSC at that time. Based on the chatter at this conference and among members of the Exhibition Committee it will be a spectacular show. Check out the call for entry. 3D work will be considered as will other unique definitions of an art quilt.
11. The sense that you matter. You will likely get lots of validation of your decision to explore art quilts as a means of creative expression. But more than that you will have a chance to observe first-hand the ways in which SAQA changes in order to better meet its members' needs. On Saturday I experienced two such examples. The Exhibition Committee was given a slot on the program and they used that time to give a historical overview of the exhibition program which also involved some myth-busting. They also talked about current practice and addressed the changes which they are contemplating as a result of their survey of member interest and concerns. They will be sharing their PowerPoint presentation with the regional reps. Perhaps we can arrange to show it at our next retreat. I think you will be as impressed as I was.
Last night I was a part of a twist in conference programming which was a direct response to comments from past years. For Saturday Night Out conference registrants could sign up to dine at one of ten or twelve different restaurants. A volunteer gathered together the group and escorted them to the restaurant and then served as an informal host for the evening. I looked after a rowdy but fun group of 15 who ate at an Egyptian restaurant. I thought the experiment was a great success - it encouraged people to break away from the familiar and ensured that everyone had a dining partner. I hope that future conferences will include this component.