Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fiberlandia 2015. SAQA's annual conference

Should you try to get to a SAQA conference? One of the problems that we face in our region is that going to any SAQA conference involves a long-haul flight which does, of course add to the expense of the conference fee and the accommodation. I made that trip this year to Portland, Oregon, partly because I felt that, as one of your co-reps, our region should be represented. However, I have absolutely no regrets about attending the conference and would recommend that, if you can do it, that you try to attend at least one conference during the lifetime of your SAQA membership.

As reps, we started a day earlier than everyone else and had a very useful meeting. It seems that many  regions have a similar problem to us in that their membership is very spread out but none of them have to contend with so many different countries and most other reps hadn't even considered the fact that there are so many different languages spoken across our region!

Each conference will be different, of course, and will depend on the quality of the speakers etc., but I suspect that they will all have something to offer. At Fiberlandia there were four Keynote speakers who were Namita Gupta Wiggers, Maria Shell and Beth Smith with Charlotte Bird (Quilt Visions).  I am not going to reinvent the wheel here but instead direct you to the SAQA Western Canada blog where the rep, Margaret Blank, obviously took many more notes than I did and has written an excellent post about the speakers. If you didn't get to sign up for Maria Shell's webinar next week she has written about it on her blog here.

There were 3 Artist Panels during the conference.

The International Artist Panel, moderated by Rosalie Dace  from South Africa, comprised Hsin-Chen Lin from Taiwan, Maggie Vanderweit from Canada, Sue Dennis from Australia and Gul Laporte from France. They discussed how artists on the edge maintain a balance in a changing world aesthetic while keeping open to the exhilaration of the unknown and the possibility of new discoveries.

The local Artist Panel was moderated by Jeannette Di Nicolis Meyer and the discussion explored the process that the four artists use in creating their art. The artists were Bonnie Buckram, Sidnee Snell, Sheila Finzer and Jean Wells Keenan. Oregon certainly has a wealth of artistic talent. In the following two photos you can just about see the work of Jean Wells Keenan (first photo) and that of Sheila Finzer and Sidnee Snell.

It was fascinating to listen in to the Student Artis Panel and to see their presentations. Hopefully some of them will join SAQA and be seen in exhibitions in the future. We need to encourage younger artists who can continue to build on and develop the art quilt. The students were Molly Eno, Melina Bishop, Kaylin Francis and Tyler Peterson.

There were three breakout sessions that we could opt into; Carolyn Higgins on Social Media, Lyric Kinard on why making bad art is vital to our success and Sue Reno on Developing and Sustaining our Daily Artistic Practice. I chose to go to the sessions with Lyric and Sue and they were even better than I expected. Lyric is a speaker full of energy and enthusiasm and you can't help but come away feeling motivated. Sue had  persuaded several artists to explain their strategies which helped them to ramp up their creative output. The overall message that came from both Lyric and Sue was that 'we need to do the work.'

It wasn't all sitting down, looking and listening however. There was a Maker's Space evening for people to try out new products and different techniques. Sorry this photo is a little blurred but I was juggling handing out instructions to people who were coming in with trying to use my phone.

Saturday afternoon provided us with free time to either do our own thing or sign up for a guided tour. There were six to choose from and although I would have liked to have seen all the artistic venues that Portland had to offer, I opted for the trip to Multnomah Falls as I wanted to see more of Oregon. We were taken on the journey in private cars, chauffeured by local SAQA member Jill Hoddick and her husband Kent. The weather was beautiful and we had an excellent pre-booked lunch which was very welcome after the walk up the falls. This is just a small group of those who went, with Jill  in the centre of the photo and the Falls in the background. Some of us made it up to the bridge in the background while others were far more energetic and made it right up to the top.

Saturday evening was the Wild About SAQA dinner and the Spotlight Auction. There was a real buzz of excitement about it and no wonder as the quality of the small pieces was excellent. You have no doubt heard that over $14,000 was raised in that single evening. Thank you to all of our members who donated a piece.

Was it worth it? Would I go again? Most definitely yes, although I'll probably have to save up hard first!

For those of you who might be thinking about going and even combining it with a holiday to America the next 3 conferences are:-
2016 Philadelpia
2017 Lincoln, Nebraska
2018 San Antonio, Texas

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Maggi,
    I appreciate hearing about the conference from your point of view.