Yesterday and today while looking at my Instagram feed, I am seeing lots of posts showing either acceptance notices or rejection notices sent to those who entered this years's Quilt Con, and it brings up lots of feelings for me. I am excited and happy for those that get in, and want to hug and comfort those that did not.
While I have occasionally entertained the idea, I personally have never entered a quilt into a show. Any show. Part laziness, part fear the quilt I so love would be lost in the process, and part conflicted feelings over the whole process, which I will discuss more in a bit.
First let me say, I applaud anyone who had the organization, and the courage to put their quilts out there. If you got accepted, congrats, I can imagine how very excited you must be! If you got rejected, please remember, your camp is the bigger one... due to sheer volume of entries, most quilts are going to be rejected.
And now for that word rejected... sounds like the judges took one look at your quilt and tossed it on the "No" pile. But for all you know, your quilt was neck to neck with another... the judges went back and forth... which one would it be...??? For all you know your quilt was heavily fought for, but in the end the other one squeaked in over yours by just a hair. And I hope you realize that if other eyes were doing the judging, the whole outcome could have been vastly different. So don't look at your quilt as "rejected". I want you to look at your quilt as the one that was sooooo close! And most of all, love that quilt. Love what you did, love your courage, love your vision, love, love, love. And keep sewing.
Did you know that Agatha Christie went through 5 years of continual rejection before landing a publishing contract? Most successful artists go through a lot of rejection... thanks goodness that they keep believing in themselves and keep trying!
Ok, so here are my conflicted feelings about the whole process...
We need shows because art and craft and creativity needs to be seen and it needs to be seen up close and personal. We also need to have some level of quality, and craftsmanship and editing, or we will be virtually overwhelmed, whether you are one of the shows organizers or one of the attendees. There is just no way that everyone can be accepted.
Being a judge, (I sure wouldn't want the job) must be extremely difficult... especially when you have to judge something on so many varied criteria... what if esthetically it knocks your socks off, but technically, eh, not so much? I might be committing a sacrilegious modern quilt offense here, but case in point... have you ever really looked at the technical aspects of some of those Gees Bend quilts that we all covet... not so great in some respects. Poor quilt stitches sometimes, unwanted puckering on others. With out the Gees Bend pedigree, those technical boo-boos could be cause for disqualification in a juried show, and what a truly sad thing that would be, for it would have robbed us of some amazing, visually powerful work!
Are you getting what I am trying to say here? The whole thing is a slippery tight-rope. We need shows because we need exposure to art. We need editing because we need to keep things from snowballing out of control. Editing is difficult and subjective to personal preference and ultimately will always dismiss something that very well should have been accepted.
Another area that I have conflict is with the whole Modern Quilt Movement... don't get me wrong... I am so happy that it came along! I am so happy that it is not only doing well, but is thriving! My gosh, who would have thought just a few years back that it would have grown this far, this quick! I so applaud those founding visionaries. Not only did they light a fire, they hauled the wood and cleared the site and invited everyone to participate. Fabulous!
However, as I have stood by the sidelines, (I am by nature an introvert) watching this all morph and grow, I can't help but observing, (from my sideline perspective) that the more folks wanted to come and sit around the modern camp fire, the more rules seemed to be required and after awhile a whole uniform has seemed to be adopted.
This causes a lot of those conflicted feelings for me.
The way I see it the most important thing in the Modern Quilt Movement is that it is a movement. Just like that camp fire, it is in a sense a living thing that should be continually morphing, changing, ebbing and growing. Out of all great artistic movements came other ways of looking and thinking... What happens to the Modern Quilt Movement if it defines itself too narrowly? Will it forget to shine light on new off-shoots, new ways of approaching quilting? Will it become come static? One note?Wouldn't that be the exact opposite of what it originally was meant to be?
My worry isn't that the Modern Quilting Movement will die off... I think it is here to stay, and I again am happy about that. My concern is that too many quilters wanting to be a part of this modern camp fire circle will limit their own creativity by trying to conform to what some camp leaders define modern to be. My worry is that the camp leaders will forget that the healthiest trees not only grow tall and straight but also have multiple branches, and that some of the best discoveries have come forging new trails, and looking under hidden rocks.
As quilter's, let's keep growing. Let's keep morphing and experimenting. Let's keep encouraging ourselves and other's. Don't let rejection get to you. Your path is an important one, keep going. xo