May 25 2011

2011-2013 SAQA Trunk Show Premiere


For the second time in its history, Studio Art Quilt Associates organized a traveling trunk show. Deb and I had the honor of curating the show. Every member of SAQA was invited to submit a piece, and every pieced was accepted as long as it conformed to the size requirement (must fit within the 12″ frame with 8″ showing in the middle). We ended up with 268 pieces, seven of which were 3D. Deb and I wanted to include 3D pieces because a) we love them and b) we wanted to give more exposure to this art form. Of course, we didn’t know what kind of Pandora’s box we had opened. Actually, if we could have just gotten hold of  her box, we’d have had no problems. Do you know how hard it is to find someone who can build you seven acrylic boxes of varying sizes in the time frame you need because you dawdled, thinking this wouldn’t be a problem? Needless to say, many thanks to Tom of Integrated Plastics for coming to our rescue. We matted, framed, and covered 261 pieces at a matting party we had up at Deb’s house. I guess this is the real reason we love being members of SAQA – no shortage of members willing to volunteer and party at the same time! The premiere was at SAQA’s annual conference last week. They really did look nice! Contact SAQA to see if a trunk is traveling your way.


Jamie helps sort the pieces.

Our friend Jamie helped us pack the trunks. No joke – we had to pack seven trunks that are now circling the globe! Trying to ensure each trunk reflected the diversity of SAQA art was no easy feat. There were many abstracts, some portraiture, and LOTS of trees. Add to that color, and it was like choreographing an intricate square dance. “Hey, does anyone need a bird, I have two birds in this group.” “I’ll trade you birch trees for a portrait.” “Hey, my trunk has too many black and white pieces.” It went on like this until lunch. We always break for lunch.

Deb, Lin Hsin-Chen, and Kris at the Denver Premiere

Here we are at the Denver premiere with Lin Hsin-Chin, the SAQA regional representative for Taiwan. We tried to meet as many of the artists as possible. We think Hsin-Chin won the I-came-the-farthest-to-attend-the-conference award.

Yael David-Cohen

This piece by Yael David-Cohen is simply stunning. Fifty of the pieces were juried into the permanent collection at Michigan State University, so Deb and I decided to pick our own fifty favorite pieces. We didn’t agree on many pieces, but we both agreed on this one. The textures and sharp shifting lines of the abstract kept bringing Deb back to the piece. I saw the black piece as the torn piece of clothing Jews rip when mourning the dead. The arrangement reminded me of internment camp clothing. Mourning the dead of the Holocaust. Very powerful.


Mary Pal

We went to an art conference once where one of the moderators opened up the question-and-answer period by admonishing us NOT to ask about technique – real artists don’t do that, and we fiber artists should act like “real” artists. Well, pooh on that. We want you to see this piece by Mary Pal because of her technique! Can you imagine creating such incredible facial and bodily expressions using cheesecloth?!?!? You need to see her work in person. The texture, the depth, the cheesecloth.



This is our trunk show submission. This was our fourth piece on war. People don’t seem to be listening to what we’re saying ’cause we’re still fightin’ them wars. We added the target not simply because we ripped the theme out of the headlines (we finished the piece soon after Congresswoman Giffords was shot), but because we think people don’t digest that war kills. We’re children of  the Vietnam War – the war was in our living rooms every night – so we’re just trying to say war takes its toll even if it’s not televised.






May 2 2011

A Day of Remembering


So here we are, starting our blog. Since there are two of us, you can imagine how much we’ve discussed why we want to write a blog (to talk about art in general and our art in particular), how often we should write (Deb says once a week, but I remain a tad skeptical), and who our targeted audience will be (you, people interested in art in general and fiber art in particular, artists interested in taking one of our classes, people interested in technology and art, and those surfers out there who just happened to google one of our favorite terms).

Since we met in our university’s German Club oh so many years ago – you know, when people thought it was important to have a rounded education which always meant to learn at least one foreign language and the culture of the people who spoke it – we wanted our first post to be about German art. We still gravitate to it, love the Bauhaus movement, Expressionist painters, and the Romantics. Since today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, we dedicate this first post to all the artists whose lives and work suffered during the Nazi Regime.

The Journalist Sylvia von Harden 1926

We want to remember Otto Dix, whose searing portraits of wounded WWI veterans, prostitutes, and city dwellers captured the essence of an entire epoch. I always think of Deb when I see this portrait of Sylvia von Harden. Deb would have been drinking a Cosmopolitan, smoking, and wearing a monocle had she lived in Berlin in the ’20s.

Self-Portrait with Jewish Passport ca. 1943

We want to remember Felix Nussbaum, whose paintings themselves became an act of Jewish resistance. Nussbaum was murdered in Auschwitz in 1944, but beforehand he asked that even if he died, “do not let my pictures die, show them to the public.”

Cover of the exhibit catalogue.

For those of you who would like to read more about how thoroughly the Nazi government went about framing the discussion of art and controlling art creation, you might want to begin with Stephanie Barron’s  Degenerate Art: the Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany (1991). This book not only gives you a virtual tour of the Degenerate Art (entartete Kunst) Exhibition of 1937 but also provides biographies of the represented artists and essays on various aspects of art in the Third Reich. Mind boggling, perhaps, is not that a twelve-city tour of the exhibition drew over three million visitors to see something deemed degenerate but that, at the same time, around 16,000 modern art pieces were confiscated and then sold overseas, destroyed, or placed into the private collections of SS officers. After all, some of the greatest artists of the 20-century are represented in this exhibition (think Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, George Grosz, or Ernst Ludwig Kirchner – more on him in a future post). This is the art history we grew up with.  It’s really no wonder, then, that we think all art is political.