I got back from one retreat on Wednesday and left for the next retreat on Thursday. Not a bad deal! The second retreat I went to was for the Art Quilt Network, which was started in 1986 by Nancy Crow. We meet twice a year. One of those times is usually in Columbus, Ohio, which is quite convenient for me.
There are some really amazing artists in this group! I could easily feel very intimidated, but everyone is so friendly that I pushed those feelings aside and concentrated on absorbing as much as possible. As soon as I stepped in the room, I could feel the excitement and energy of all those creative people. Many of these artists have had quilts accepted in Quilt National which is pretty much considered the premiere show for art quilts.
Each retreat, everyone brings a few of their most recent pieces and they get hung all around the room. It’s like a private quilt show! I could get up close and look at every detail. One particular quilt was so tempting I just had to run my fingers over it (after asking permission first, of course). I brought “Redeeming Fragments,” “Sheer Whim,” and “Violinist” to share. Forty quilters attended this retreat. Here (in no particular order) are just a few of the quilts on display.
During Thursday we talked about different ways to discuss and describe art, using descriptive words instead of subjective words. For instance, it is easy to say “That’s pretty” or “I like it.” They are typical responses that do not require a lot of thought and may not be particularly useful or helpful. It takes more effort to contemplate a piece, looking at the composition and conclude that the work is “rhythmic” and “graceful.”
For me, this was a stretching exercise. I love to stand in front of a quilt and just absorb it, but I seldom put my thoughts into actual words. We spent some time choosing a few quilts and then picking out five words to describe each one. Referring to the images above, I described Violet Cavazos’s piece as hot, fragmented, chaotic and emerging. I described Connie Norton’s piece as soothing, peaceful, rhythmic, modern, and orderly. For Kevin Womack’s piece, I said it was energetic, colorful, wild, daring, and bold. Several people commented on my “Violinist” and it was fun to hear their response to it. I wish I had thought to write down everything they said.