Thursday, May 04, 2017

about not being able to sleep

This Revolution Will Not Be Televised #13 by Penny Mateer and Martha Wasik, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
  from SAQA exhibition Layered Voices
I didn't sleep much during my amazing week away.

I ended my trip at Maggie Vanderweit's stunning home waiting for Ned to pick me up and take me back to the quiet of Mantioulin.  Maggie is the new Central Canada rep for the Studio Art Quilt Association. (SAQA)

This post is about my attendance at the SAQA annual conference, this year in Lincoln Nebraska.

All images included here are from the beautifully installed juried SAQA exhibition Layered Voices. It hung in one of the main galleries in the International Quilt Museum.   and they appear here with artists' permission.  The complete exhibition is available to view here.
This Revolution Will Not Be Tolerated #13, Protest Series - by Penny Mateer, detail.  cotton, photo transfers, printed, machine pieced, appliqued and quilted

"In 2014, following the announcement that NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo would not be indicted for killing Eric Garner, the NaACP local defense fund posted a series of tweets naming 76 individuals killed in police custody since 1999.
The list is on "  Penny Mateer

This Revolution Will Not Be Televised #13 Protest Series by Penny Mateer, and Martha Wasik
We all stayed in the same hotel at the conference which added an intense feeling of comraderie.
The CNN news was often on and so I got dressed listening to the commentary about Trump's 100 days, or about the spy within his administration and of course about the madness re: North Korea.
Death Shroud for Democracy by Kristin LaFlamme , Portland Oregon  from the SAQA exhibition Layered Voices

Death Shroud for Democracy by Kristin LaFlamme, acrylic paint, deconstructed US flag, used clothing, sheet, embroidery floss, paint. machine pieced and hand embroidered

"Referencing the Shroud of Turin, and thus the death of an important ideal, the figure here is Uncle Sam.
The disassembled US flag is a metaphor for Congress disassembling democracy.
 Layers of embroidered words refer to people, ideas and actions that tear at its very fabric.'   Kristin LaFlamme
I have been struggling with this blog post.
I want to talk honestly about my experience at the conference.
When people ask me what the best thing was, upon reflection I have to say that the valuable and inspiring International Quilt Study Museum (where I spent two whole days) was incredible.
However, listening to the gentle poetic voice of art quilt pioneer star, Michael James is very near the top of my list.  In addition, the simple connecting or re-connecting with other art quilters was tremendously meaningful.  Previously, I knew most of these women through the internet.
Premonition by Dinah Sargeant, newhall California  part of the SAQA national exhibition Layered Voices on view at the International quilt museum in lincoln Nebraska until end of May 2017

Premonition detail; cotton, canvas, fabric paint, machine and hand applique  
"A sensing of What might be next"  DinahSargeant

The world seems to be in such a tenuous place right now.
Those pundits on CNN make me feel as if there is little point in doing much.
Things are going off in all directions.
What I make in my art or what I do in my personal life doesn't seem as if it will make a difference.
It's a long time since I've had this kind of feeling.

I feel a crazy need to change my life, yet I am so timid.
I am so safe with Ned right now on Manitoulin Island, northern Canada.
In Other Words by Jette Clover, Antwerp Belgium
cotton, linen, dyed, painted, hand stitched, machine quilted, part of the Layered Voices exhibition

In Other Words
"I love words.  They have shapes and sounds and they convey meaning.  Stitching resembles the rhythm of writing with a pen a slow, intimate process during which one becomes aware of the marking of time".  Jette Clover
When Bethany drove us out of Lincoln on the Sunday there was a horrific rain storm and truck and car traffic we didn't understand.  We drove around the bottom of Lake Michigan in the dark on highways narrowed by construction zones and blocked exits, forced into many detours.
We drove in an anxious panic, putting miles under our wheels.
Migration.   Souvenir.  by Roxanne Lasky, Bluffton South Carolina USA
recycled silk saris and kimono, hand dyed cotton and linen, pieced, hand appliqued and embroidered,
part of the Layered Voices exhibition  

Migration. Souvenir. detail
"The coat represents the complex record of personal narrative through place and time.  We move with our memories as if adorned with regal garb, armour against conflict or protection from the elements, warnings against danger, crimes against self, boundaries that prevent transgressing into growth and joy and wisdom for the future."  Roxanne Lasky

in other words by Jette Clover (detail
So, one week on the road there and then back plus the one week in Nebraska USA, with a lot of other older women who are all artists and who believe in connecting with each other - hugging and talking, exchanging 'moo' business cards, hoping for love.

So this blog post is about the conference but also about that TV set on.
It's about the ancientness of most of the other atendees and their furious networking.
It's about what filled my creative cup - (the Luke haynes exhibit at the quilt museum)
It's about feeling part of a large group of grannies and finding love there
and it's about not being able to sleep.
This Revolution Will Not Be Tolerated detail by Penny Mateer

These works reveal an over arching awareness on the part of the artists of the cycles of creation and destruction that bring about change.  Each in its way communicates a sense of the fragility and poignancy of our human condition.  The art speaks of the passage of time and how we assemble meaning from experience.  Additional layers of interpretation are exposed when we see these works in the context of the current cultural turmoil."
                                juror-curator of the layered voices exhibition for SAQA             Rise Nagin

detail of Dinah Sargeant's Premonition
It's about safety and risk
about addiction to feeling good and to ignoring reality
about yearning
about heart


  1. It was so great to finally meet you Judy. You have summed up the experience of the conference beautifully. And I'm glad to see the photos of Dinah Sargeant's pieces. I am scheming up ways to purchase it. If I do, you'll have to come visit it again in Nova Scotia.

  2. I love seeing so many of us, the older women of the world bearing witness through our stitching, painting, sculpting, writing and standing strong in the front line of the resistance to all the awfulness being wrought by the greed of the corporate powers manipulating the governments of our beautiful broken world...

  3. judy, i can't even imagine what a horror it was to have constant tv news. it would have made me a mean, snarly coyote, i could not have borne it. and yet, you remain full of kindness.

  4. Anonymous6:08 pm

    I visit your blog for the serenity your work gives my mind.
    It reflects your environment and your soul.
    Like hearing TV all the time I don't want to be looking at art that shouts about the current political situation.
    You can convey a message with a feather, you don't always need a sledge hammer.
    The coming together then returning home just makes you look at your heart through a different window. It doesn't really change who you are.
    The world is still good.
    Cheers Jan x

  5. Jan

    I am very grateful for your comment and reminder about serenity and hope.
    My heart and soul was very affected by the wide variety of stimuli I experienced over the past ten days.
    I chose the pieces for this post as a bridge between the reality of the USA and the warm creativity and iuntent of the artists I met, not just the ones in this exhibition.

    Please be sure to go and visit the entire SAQA exhibition Layered Voices by following the link I provided, you will see that many other interpretations of Layered Voices are there.

    This journal is an attempt to be as honest as I can about my emotions and thoughts and to write them down here. Otherwise - I don't see the point of it.

    And yes - I know the world is still good. Thank you for your love.
    I send it back to you and to all who have commented.
    It's important for me that you are reading and letting me know that you are affected in some way.


  6. I take full responsibility for Judy's pain with exposure to the TV on this trip. I should have known better and feel terrible and sad that it spoiled her quiet time. We had never been 'together' before. I have learned so much about Judy here and as a wise and talented Teacher. Her world is different than mine, and I know now how this affected her trip.
    The limited amount of time we were in the room, and time a TV was on as background noise was selfishly for me, as with my six adult children and ten grandchildren in the US who will indeed be negatively affected by the Trump government in the near and distant future, I needed to be linked to news. I was selfish and didn't realize how it was affecting my friend... and apologies are not enough.
    I have learned so much from Judy, and treasure her as do each of you. The conference was amazing this year and insightful... the women and men we met, a great influence on my own thoughts about my own arts practice. The visual art, calling me closer, a joy and a burden, as demonstrated by some of the photos shared here. More to consider and a painful reality about the world we move in...
    Take care dear friend and know you are loved.

  7. As I said, I struggled with writing this post.

    How much should I say about the disconnect between our reality TV world and the amazing and beautiful re-connect of the conference.

    I could have just talked about the positive energy that I received at the conference. That is what I started out to do - because it was really uplifting. It was my first SAQA conference and I was over whelmed by the friendliness and the sheer skill of the organizers and all the easy happy feelings that carried so many of us into generous encounters with each other.

    But instead I used this opportunity to reflect on the difficult times that we are living through - mostly by just closing our eyes and walking through daily life that is like a swarm of blackflies whirling around our heads all the time.

    It wasn't just the TV news - it was my own addiction to internet chat lines and personal escape through them. I am facing down some personal risks of my own - and I confess that I used this blog to identify them for myself and remind myself of this time in my own life.

    Bethany - please do not take this on yourself. You did not invent Donald Trump and his realization that the presidency is actually a very difficult job. You did not make the I94 freeway have closed exits. These things are unpleasant, yet we all deal with them every single day, and how do we manage thatÉ We ignore how much they are hurting us.

    In this blog, I want to identify that we are wounded by our contemporary society - just as much as we are inspired by it.

    I LOVE EVERYBODY (Lyall Lovett)
    I LOVE THE WHOLE WORLD (Agnes Martin)


  8. Anonymous10:20 am

    Taking your 'clothes off in public' is a very brave thing to do.
    I don't think you are timid at all.
    I am afraid I am addicted to feeling good and being a total ostrich.
    I love your posts that make me think deeper, and question myself.
    These types of posts last in the memory longer.
    I find being with a large group of women emotionally draining, especially when you spend most of your time in the bush with just one bloke.
    But it gives plenty of stimulation to the grey cells for future reference.
    Fabulous autumn sunset tonight, the colour lingered on and the air was crisp.
    Cheers Jan

  9. You have such gifts, Judy. Your art, words..I felt very privileged to meet and talk with you in person. I agree with all you said, and I too loved the Luke Haynes exhibit. And after hearing Michael James speak, and read his words in his catalog, I'm 180 spun on his work. It was an honor to meet with so many kindreds in one spot. I felt the synergy and magic. I hope we cross paths again, maybe to stitch some together.


  10. The exhibition looks stunning.
    I feel it’s very important to be informed; I grieve at the direction many in my country have taken.
    But I can’t wrap myself in trauma.
    Each individual must determine their level of involvement and what form that takes.
    I choose to live a quiet life in a rural corner of California with my lovely husband.
    This is what I need to retain some measure of stability so that I might respond to needs around me.
    Others are prepared to take a more front line position.
    May we all be strengthened for the work we are each given.

  11. THANKS Judy for showing this !!!!!!!!!!!

  12. I consciously did not watch any TV during the whole week I was at the conference, though I followed some events on the Internet. I just wanted to fully concentrate on all the people and events and exhibitions, which was indeed exhausting enough. I'm so glad I got to meet you there Judy, and hope our paths will cross again.


Thank you for taking the time to connect. Much appreciated.xx