Skip to content

catching up after a lengthy hiatus…

…during which I was VERY BUSY, completing three works for the Quilt National submission in mid-September.  Results were announced two weeks ago and, alas, none of my works was accepted this year.  This is my third attempt in six years, and this time I started thinking about my submissions WHILE I was viewing the last show – a private biennial juried exhibit, Quilt National is held at the Dairy Barn Art Center in Athens, Ohio, and represents the state of the art quilt.  So, I had invested a lot of time and energy with the goal of GETTING IN THIS YEAR!

After my three pieces were finished and I awaited my professional photo shoot, I took a personal inventory and declared that what I had done was outside my usual operating procedure, I’d never invested this highly in any show or an one event.  I decided I would not do a repeat performance.  If I got in, or if I didn’t, I would never again submit to this venue.  I think that, primarily, right now, my reason is that I want to step outside the insular world of ‘art quilts’ and start to concentrate on getting exposure for my work in the general art world.

I’ve spent the last few weeks licking my chops, analyzing which new direction to take with my work (or not), looking, thinking, meditating and letting things fall naturally in place, just generally getting ready to jump right back on that horse, as my dear Nana, Grace Hall, would have told me were she still here.  The horse MAY be of a different color, not sure yet.  I know I am working on a project that is way outside my usual style, and it is an assemblage (new to me, as well) and that I’m starting to collect odd and ends of vintage textiles that I’ve always coveted but have not previously incorporated into my art.  So…with that….I’ll say a few things about my works that didn’t make the cut this year at Quilt National.

I’m passionate about putting an end to hydro-fracking.  I made a small piece two years ago, probably posted herein, here is another:

NO FRACKING WAY.  Measures almost five feet in each direction.  Cotton, silk, cotton canvas.

Statement:  Big-money’s latest assault on our natural resources – the water supply of millions of our citizens and our tranquil bucolic landscape.  BAN hydroFRACKING NOW!  


I’m also passionate about the way our elected officials in Washington have conducted themselves these past almost four years – in a word, DISGRACEFUL!

SHABBY POLITICAL CHIC, 50″ H x 84″ W.  Commercial cotton, cotton diaper, tarlatan, flannel, canvas, ink.

Statement:  Our honorable democratic ideals – torn, tarnished and trampled by a partisan Congress.

And my personal favorite:  REMNANTS, 20″ H x 37″ W.  Commercial cotton scraps, upholstery remnant, discarded jeans, monk’s cloth, antique found walking stick.

Statement:  Ethics, morality and the American way in shreds – remnants of our past glory.

This work felt like it made itself, from remnants and leftovers in my studio after the making of SHABBY POLITICAL CHIC (above).

and a close-up of REMNANTS –

Photo credits belong to Andy Wainwright.

Final word:  No real regrets, I think this work is artistically strong and I derived a huge amount of personal satisfaction from expressing my disgust at current political events.  I always feel good when I can tear after my usual schtick of cutting and fusing, and it felt good to revert to some long-neglected hand embroidery techniques.  I totally understand the ‘crap shoot’ arena of national exhibits and have not previously let declinations get the better of me; in the future I will plan more judiciously and not let the project or event overtake me.  Famous last words…..





Posted in BREAKING NEWS!, finished work...TA-DA!, observations and discoveries.

15 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Sandy says

    OK, Ill be your first comment. Debbie, I learned long ago that chances of getting into QN are less than getting into Harvard so I’ve dropped my expectations of ever again getting in. I do my work, I muddle along, and if I have something to enter, fine, if not I would NEVER work towards a particular show. It’s too draining second guessing yourself, the jurors, the show and everything else. That said, you are left with three new pieces you feel good about, all political, so look for a show out there that is geared to political statements or that these pieces answer a question they pose. In short, don’t find the quilt to fit the show, find the show to fit your quilts! Make that show a multi media show, not a quilt show, a win/win situation! And prtty soon you will b congratulating yourself for NOT getting in!

  2. Rosemary Claus-Gray says

    First of all, Debbie, your work is quite strong, and has an important message to the world, from you. Artistically, it’s got what it takes, in any media. Secondly, I, for one, think that the Quilt National exhibit is over rated. Yes, it is an important exhibit. And for the record, I’ve not made the cut, either, though I don’t enter every year. I did not enter this year. I object to the strict rules that end up requiring an artist to sequester her or himself and one’s work for the length of time it takes to make three significant pieces. I know 3 are not required, but most artists do try to enter 3, I believe. There is so much importance placed on this one show, a sense that one has reached the holy grail of quilting if one is accepted, that too many artists believe that description, and make their art decisions based on it. Yes, there is some good work there, no doubt. And some that’s ho-hum, and repetitive, and very similar to past work. There are self–perpetuating myths about the show, and it’s hyped up in amazing ways. It can do damage to serious artists, I think, by keeping their work out of sight, and believing their worth as an artist depends on being accepted. Horse hockey to that. It’s just another show. Another quilt show. It is given a lot of credence and prestige, but has it earned that? Or are too many people falling for the hype? I’ve stepped out of the quilt world, in to the world of art, where Quilt National is a nonentity. It may be important in the quilt world, but if you are serious about creating art with fiber, consider expanding your goals to making a mark in the art world. I’m writing this to encourage you to keep creating, and to exhibit your work in the wider art world. I know that there will be people who disagree with me, but this is my view on the touchy subject of Quilt National.

  3. Kathy York says

    My first time to your blog. I love the pieces you made for QN. I agree with Rosemary that there is a lot of hype with QN. I think it is a fallacy to believe that your work upon being rejected from QN, isn’t good enough for QN. I suspect that the quality of entries for QN has gone up significantly since the show opened, which means that many, many worthy quilts are rejected every time. Pick 3 different jurors, and you would get a different collection. I got lucky this year. QN rejections usually take quite a bite out of my self esteem. However, this year, life events conspired to be much more important than my QN rejection. And I just LOVE my two entries so much and I needed to make them. They must be destined for a different path. Better or worse, remains to be seen. Keep up the good work! Keep making what you need to. Thanks for sharing!

  4. deb-of-pixeladies says

    What powerful work, Debbie! I, too, got lucky. I think luck has a whole lot to do with any acceptance anywhere. As Kathy said, 3 different jurors–3 different collections. I would go so far to say that the same 3 jurors on a different day would yield a different collection. Kris and I each tried to choose “our 50” trunk show quilts, out of only about 260 quilts, and the job was extremely difficult. When we compared our 50 to the 50 that the juror chose to send to the MSU museum, there were only about 10 that all 3 of us agreed upon. And I know that if I looked at all the quilts again, I would have a different collection. Hmm. Maybe Kris and I should “jury” it again and see how many of our initial 50 ended up in this round.

  5. Carol says

    So sorry you didn’t get into Quilt National – their loss! You are an awesome artist, and some other venue will be the lucky one to show your art as so many others have done! Keep up the good work. I always enjoy it, and really, who else counts..haha!

  6. Wen Redmond says

    I agree with Rosemary Claus-Gray about the relative ‘importance’ of QN. That said, it is quite nice to get accepted. And with Deb, a different day, different work. And my personal bug-a-boo is, it seems like the same damn artists in almost every show. HO-hum. In my mind, your works is outstanding, strong and cleverly made. Keep it going- move on – and chin up- march those right on out to another show!

  7. Kris Sazaki says

    Debbie, your work is powerful and deserves to be seen. Now that you have finished three incredible pieces, look to all-media exhibitions to exhibit your work. I think sometimes many of us don’t look outside the box. You’ve created art so look at all art venues to show your work. And good luck!

  8. Linda Moran says

    Debbie, I agree with everything you said. I felt that way after a rejection this year from Visions. I don’t have nearly the confidence to even think about entering QN. I, like you, am concentrating on getting my work out into galleries and a broader spectrum. I do have good luck getting my work accepted into art shows, not quilt shows, so I’m going that route. I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments, especially, Debbie, that your work is wonderful.

  9. Susan Lenz says

    As you know, when my acceptance email came … I assumed you had the same message. Looking at these pieces, I’d assume it again.

    Like other comments, I, too, dislike the odd rules at Quilt National. The hype nearly made me sick … something that has never happened before. I enter loads of things … generally pieces that were made without a particular venue or exhibition in mind. Okay … the two I entered weren’t made specifically for QN … but I couldn’t blog them, I couldn’t share them, it all felt so different and artificial and … well … you know the rest. Your work is wonderful and there are exhibitions into which you ought to enter these works … exhibitions in which they will earn awards.

  10. Debbie says

    All you gals are SO TERRIFIC! It is lovely to get such support and encouragement from my peers. I’m so glad I got these pieces ‘out of the closet,’ so to speak….Debbie

  11. Penny Mateer says

    I have only a moment to write will write more later. I remember when you posed the question about working with flags and whether it was appropriate. Wow! Love what you have done.
    QN’s loss. Don’t limit yourself to art quilt venues, look for fiber and art shows. I always read the bios of the jurors carefully to try to get a sense of how they view political art. Wonderful work I want to see in person.

  12. Irene Reising says

    Debbie: your work is powerful and MUST be seen by others. Thank you for sharing!!! Do not stop, you are so talented. I had an experience 2 yrs ago where I won 3rd place in Paducah show then entered in another show with same quilt. The judging was so harsh and critical of my quilt. It just crushed me for weeks. Know what you are feeling. Keep your chin up… Irene

  13. Elaine Quehl says

    Dear Deb,
    As you know from our conversations, I almost didn’t enter Quilt National this year because of my ambivalent feelings about the show. In the end I did enter the piece I had just finished and not surprisingly it was rejected. Hey, 90% of entries are rejected so why not mine?? The hype surrounding the show and the weeping and gnashing of teeth when folks don’t make it in are disconcerting to me. I agree with much of what Rosemary said. There are many outstanding and amazing works of art in the show, and then there are always the ones that make me wonder what the jurors were smoking that day ;-)) Looking over the past catalogues I find a lot of the works seem very rooted in tradition, and there are many shows out there that are way more innovative. It is great to see lots of new names on the list of exhibitors this year. It seems to me that when someone gets in year after year after year with work that is very similar to previous years, then the show is also not about innovation. I don’t see my work as cutting edge but when I see other work that isn’t cutting edge I figure I might as well enter. And there always seems to be some “filler” quilts, the ones that really don’t stand out and seem quite unremarkable, but maybe they do indeed fill out the show and make it look cohesive. I, for one, am not basing my career on getting into or not getting into Quilt National. The art world doesn’t care a whit about Quilt National, and neither does the quilt world. It is only a small section of the elite art quilt world that really cares, so I don’t think it makes much difference, except maybe in our minds and those of our elite little group. There are so many places that will value your work and be happy to hang it and I think you should start looking at swimming in the big pond of the art world. Your ideas and the work that results are fantastic.
    Hugs, Elaine

  14. Dawn says

    Hi to you and thank you for sending along all your creativity! You have made some powerful statements with your work. I am truly astounded with the dynamics of the pieces and your energetic contributions to politics and universality of humankind! Just returned from Bermuda during Thanksgiving and hope that you had a wonderful one as well. Again thanks for sharing-glad to be still on your list! Love Dawn

  15. Debbie says

    Thank you, Dawn. It is wonderful to hear from you, your opinions of my work have always been important to me.

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.