Composition IV – Sold!

Adams-Composition04-Composition IV, 42 x 42 inches, acrylic paint on stitched textile. ©Deidre Adams

Just a quick one today, to celebrate some good news.

I had a lovely trip to Portland last week to attend the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) Fiberlandia conference in Portland. It was fun to see old friends again and meet some new ones. The presentations were all quite excellent, but the standouts for me were hearing Namita Gupta Wiggers talk about the position of the quilt in the context of history and the larger art world. She definitely got me thinking about trying some new directions in my work, one of which would be to consider working at a much larger scale. I tend to work within a narrow range of sizes, mostly due to the convenience of shipping and storage. But Namita made me see how working bigger could open up some new opportunities.

Maria Shell also gave a great talk on researching and applying for grant opportunities. I’ve had that on my to-do list for a long time, but for some reason always find other obligations more pressing. And still, I’m thinking, when I get done with X, Y, and Z, I’ll get right on that!

Then I had a great time exploring Portland, which is my new favorite city.



Yesterday, I received word that Composition IV has sold to Methodist Mansfield Medical Center. This piece has always been one of my favorites, and I’m so happy it has found a new home. Now, off to the next adventure – another trip to New York.

2017-10-15T16:14:51+00:00 May 5th, 2015|Career and focus|5 Comments

The unbearable lightness of show rejections

Composition VIII, 39 x 39, ©2008 Deidre Adams

Ahh, Quilt National. The Holy Grail of art quilting excellence. The Nirvana to which all we faithful makers of quilted textile art aspire! Its fickle clarion call, beckoning faithfully once every two years, cannot be ignored nor disdained. Each time it comes around, I faithfully put together my entry, being careful to follow all of the rules lest I end up that most pitiable of creatures, the person who gets summarily kicked out in disgrace — what fate could be worse than that? Each time then, I hold my breath, hoping, waiting…

And all but one of those times for the past 5 shows, has come the rejection. No, they say, you are not worthy. Go back and do not darken our door again until you have sweated and slaved and produced a masterpiece from which we do not recoil in horror.

All kidding aside, though, I did receive my rejection notice from QN a couple of weeks ago. And it’s true what they say: the more rejections you get, the easier it becomes to shake it off and move on. Plus, since the initial notice came by e-mail, it really did seem inconsequential to me this time. None of that anticipation as when you pull the envelope out of the mailbox, fingering it carefully, trying to figure out if all the slides you sent them have come back to you.

The piece above, Composition VIII, is one of the works I had entered this year. I feel in my heart that it is without doubt the finest work I have ever made. It expresses precisely and without fuss exactly what it is I am trying to say with my work. (Does that sound amazingly conceited? I was told by someone yesterday that I self-censor way too much, so perhaps that statement is a bit of a passive-aggressive reaction to that idea.) So I say to you, Quilt National, your loss!

Other people that I’ve shown this piece to have had lukewarm reactions to it also, so it’s yet another example of a paradox that I often find in making art. The work that I think is positively my best doesn’t seem so to others, and the things I get the best reactions to are often those that I feel weren’t particularly strong. Does this mean I’m not a good judge of my own work? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. In either case, it’s proof once again that you really need to make work for yourself and not be trying to guess what others might like or what might be sellable.

Possibly another reason why the QN rejection didn’t bother me too much is that during the months of October and November this year, I will be having a solo show at Translations Gallery. This is very exciting news for me, and I’m certainly honored to have this opportunity. The gallery owner and manager have a lot of great ideas for promoting the show, including hiring a professional production company to make a video about my art. There have been two sessions of taping so far, a nerve-wracking experience for me, but they were great at working with me to get through my fears. I can’t wait to see the final result.

I’m busily making some new pieces to go in this show, and I am also getting some of my photography together to include with the exhibit. It’s a lot to pull together in the couple of weeks I have left, but I have some good ideas and lots of energy right now. Fall is always a good time for me.

2017-10-15T16:16:58+00:00 October 10th, 2008|Career and focus, Exhibitions|18 Comments

Eva Hesse – Contingent


Contingent, Eva Hesse, 1969

This piece has been the focus of my attention for the last several weeks. I just finished writing a research paper on it for my Understanding Visual Culture class. Eva Hesse created this work during the last year of her life, mostly through the assistance of other people, because of her illness due to a brain tumor. She died when she was just 34 years old.

The panels in this work are made from fiberglass and latex over a kind of heavy-duty cheesecloth. Hesse was a kind of pioneer in her working methods, and she turned to working with these materials after creating a solid body of work from more “crafty” stuff like wound cord and papier maché. She worked extensively with the latex even though she knew it would become unstable over time. Unfortunately, most of these works have deteriorated beyond the point where they can be exhibited, so getting to see any of them in person is unlikely.

The assignment for this paper was to choose a work and write about it from a critical and theoretical perspective. We all had to do a proposal before starting the paper itself, and the comments I received back from the instructor for mine indicated that I was going down the wrong path. She told me I was using a standard art history approach and suggested I work from a feminist perspective instead. Well, I was reluctant to do that because I’ve never thought of myself as a feminist and don’t really know that much about it. I know that in spite of how much things have changed in the nearly 40 years since this work was made, there is still a great deal of inequity between men and women as far as status, representation, and earnings. In the late 1960s, though, “making it” as an artist was astronomically more difficult for a woman, whose accepted roles of wife, mother, sex object, etc. were just beginning to be challenged by the feminist movement.

One thing that Hesse did have on her side was her location. She was raised and went to school in New York, giving her access to people and galleries that gave her career a huge advantage. It also shaped her perspectives on what women could accomplish with the proper determination. I doubt whether she would have achieved the same success in the visual arts if she had grown up in small-town middle America at that time.

There was a lot of discussion on the SAQA Yahoo group recently about women and fiber arts, and how neither have achieved the success they deserve. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I do think yes, it would be great if textile and fiber arts could have the same status that painting and sculpture have in the fine art world. On the other hand, I can’t help thinking that whatever success I’ve had so far in my art career has been due to the fact that it is somewhat of a niche market. The playing field is definitely smaller, and it seems the ratio of shows to artists in our medium is greater than it is for art in general. I wonder if I would have any recognition at all if I were doing more traditional paintings? Probably not.

I do think we have an uphill battle as far as educating the public at large as well as those in the art world about our medium. But it’s going to take more than just making a lot of noise about what we deserve.

2017-10-15T16:17:06+00:00 April 27th, 2008|Career and focus, School|2 Comments