Sunday, June 10, 2007

SDA Conference in Kansas City

After spending a lovely week in New Mexico with my family, I flew to Kansas City on May 24th for the Surface Design Association Conference, which was held at the Kansas City Art Institute. I arrived early to do some volunteer work. I was fortunate to be able to help Jan-Ru Wan, a wonderful artist from Raleigh, NC, hang part of her installation, "Potent Thread" one of the numerous exhibitions featured in Kansas City's gallery district in conjunction with the conference. (The Spring 2007 issue of Surface Design Journal has an excellent article about her work on page 24.) The piece shown here is called "Sacred Connections"; it's dyed and printed silk organza with found relic objects from Thailand, spoons and waxed string. Attached to the bowl of each spoon are small wax Buddha figures.

On Sunday I started a four-day class called "Visual Metaphor" with Jo Stealey, head of the fiber department at University of Missouri at Columbia. We worked with a huge variety of materials and processes to brainstorm and flesh out new ideas and imagery and created several 3-D interpretations of our subject matter. Jo is an excellent instructor, gives helpful feedback and crits and it was a pleasure to learn from her. Here, Linda and Wendy are working on a class exercise.

Jo's standing at the back on the left talking to Charlotte and Carol. Working hard at sketching are left to right, Wendy, Lyn and Sue.

After the class, the conference started. It was a whirlwind of demonstrations, lectures, slide presentations, social interactions, excellent vendors and gallery exhibitions. If you have not been to an SDA Conference and you love an environment where every imaginable type of fiber art happily mingles, this is a must attend. It's a volunteer run conference, not at all slick or perfect, but that adds to its charm.

One of my favorite exhibitions at the conference is the Member Exhibition. This is an unjuried exhibit open to all SDA members and the only restriction is that the pieces must be 18" x 52" and hang vertically. This year over 200 entries were received and exhibited in the H&R Block Gallery space. You will see amazing examples of just about every surface design technique imaginable in this display.

Of course I was happy to visit my own piece there. It's the third piece from the left below and it's called "This Indenture." I wanted to create a piece that captures the beauty of nature but also reminds us that we have a deed and obligation to protect this planet. My piece is one of 100 that have been chosen to be part of a traveling exhibition that will tour for two years. If you missed the conference, you can buy a marvelous CD with every piece in the exhibition on it and use its magnifying feature to view each piece so closely that you can see every detail. Check out the Surface Design Association website to order one -- it's only $20.

After the conference ended, I stayed on an extra day to take an optional tour bus to Columbia, MO and see more exhibits there. The first stop on our tour was Stephen's College, a private women's college that has an amazing costume collection. Although the entire collection had just been relocated and wasn't all on display, we did get to see some amazing samples. We donned white gloves and actually got to handle pieces from the late 1800's through the 1980's. Then the curator opened several boxes with several articles of French men's clothing from the 1720's. I was surprised at their small size and intricate embellishment.

This coat is velvet, hand constructed, with very detailed silk embroidery on it. It obviously had been worn a lot and parts of the garment are in poor condition.

But look at the amazing hand embroidery on it.

This was another coat in pale salmond silk that had a matching pair of pants, also embellished extensively with hand embroidery. It fascinated me that I was holding clothing and looking at stitchery from over 300 years ago.

After we left the college and costume display, we toured downtown Columbia, which is a lovely small university town with a real appreciation for art. There were multiple fiber art exhibits.
Jo had an exhibit at the Perlow Stevens Gallery. She worked with handmade paper and natural materials to create these wallhangings.

Jo does an extensive amount of hand stitching in her work. You can see the leaves below that have been arranged and pressed into the paper as well as some of the hand stitching on this piece.

The last stop on the tour was the University of Missouri George Caleb Gallery with Carol Le Baron's exhibition "Endangered Species." The exhibition included Carol's large resist hand-dyed felted pieces and her Jacquard weavings.

The work was amazing. Carol was in Jo's class with me before the conference, so it was especially meaningful to attend her opening and be able to fully appreciate the work that she does.

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