Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Favorite Fiber Piece, and Why

My first immersion was fiber, and one piece stood out for me as I made it: my wall quilt Soul Searching. Even the title indicates that it was a very introspective piece. It has always been my favorite, and it has garnered a lot of recognition. In the quilt world, it won ribbons and prize money, but the piece transcended the quilting world. I felt confident enough of it to enter it into competitions in the greater fine craft world where it was embraced.

It won a Juror's Prize at Materials: Hard & Soft, a very selective mixed media show, juried that year by renowned enamelist Harlan Butt. It was incredibly validating to have an artist whose work I'd so admired recognize my work as exceptional!

The piece was also selected by Michael Monroe, former curator of the Renwick Gallery (the crafts collection of the Smithsonian), for Craft Forms, and by David Revere McFadden for Crafts National, two other prestigious mixed media annual exhibits. If it hadn't been off at another national exhibit, Michael Monroe would have chosen it for an annual fundraiser at the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, and I wouldn't still have it in my collection (lucky, that!). One of only thirteen pieces auctioned off, its substitute sister shared glory with Dale Chihuly and other work of that calliber.

It was a transformational piece for me, where I finally felt entitled to that title of artist, even though my diploma says scientist. Michael Monroe, for heaven's sake, asked me where I did my art training!! At home.

It is also a bittersweet quilt for me. Michael Monroe asked me which galleries carried my work, so I felt enabled to send out porfolios to seek that representation. But before they were shipped, my tiny little blond boy, loathing first grade (even in a Waldorf school) came home for his education. A Ph.D. scientist can't bear to see their child turned off to school, so art full time was sacrificed to ensure a love of learning, and the search for a medium that could see progress in fewer hours per piece began.