Oh my gosh, it is Sunday afternoon and I don't think I have quite recovered from yesterday's trip in Atlanta to pick up the husband at the airport and then spending part of the day at the G.A. Quilt show. And if I were to be quite honest I would say part of this recovery is the recovery from the disappointment in the show itself.
I had been really looking forward to visiting the show and to see my quilt (Nevermore) hanging.. it did not get any ribbons but I did not expect it to either so that had nothing to do with my disappointment.
I was quite pleased to see multiple people spend time looking at it.. taking photos and one women even sketched it. Now hopefully they were not doing so only to feature it on " the world's worst quilt page' but if so.. such is life. I entered it to learn the process not to win. ( Yes true.. I have had never entered a quilt in a contest when I entered that one.. but then I have only been quilting for 2 years)
There were many beautiful and well known quilts hanging in the center gallery, most of them with prize ribbons and this is where I start having problems.
I commit the following words to paper not without a great deal of trepidation. It is so difficult to express true meaning and nuance through this medium but I am going to try, please bear with me as I do so.
I am very new to the quilting world so am not privy to the secret handshake or gang-signs that are associated with this new hobby of mine. By and large I have loved the quilters I have met and each of them has talent that rocks my socks and I love to see what they are creating at any given moment.
Where it gets sticky is seeing their quilts, quilts I have seen many times in magazines and on quilting related TV shows ..quilts that have already won multiple ribbons ( and prize money) in other shows large national shows hanging in yet another show, and a somewhat smaller regional show at that.
I want people .. hell, everyone to see these amazing works of art but in the same breath I want others to also have their chance in the sun. I am the sort of girl who wants all ships to rise on a positive tide and I suspect that when the same quilt(s) travels from show to show winning or placing very high in all of them that ships are not lifted.. in fact some of the smaller boats are sunk in sadness.
I mention the sunk in sadness after talking to two women who are longtime quilters.. like 40+ years.. they no longer want to go to shows or to enter shows since they feel there is little to no chance for their work to be appreciated when these big name quilts are part of the competition.. this makes me sad.
I heard similar thoughts expressed as I loitered around the show a bit ( yes .. I was eavesdropping) and while some found inspiration I would say a fair number felt more defeated than anything and that is not good for the long term health of quilt shows.
The flip side of course is that those who have created these awesome quilts deserve to have their work seen and many use the money won to finance the creation of their newest masterpiece so having the quilt travel to multiple shows is the best way for that to happen.
Alas this cycle is vicious and leaves many others out of the joy when it comes to having a chance for their moment in the sun especially when it comes to smaller regional shows.
The business of regional traveling quilt shows is big money and is controlled by a small number of companies that make these events happen. Without them there would be few quilt shows past those sponsored by local guilds and yet when an industry catches it's participants by the short hairs this way there is little to do unless they become vanguard of change thus helping all ships rise.
I want to see these stellar quilts.. I want others to see them. I want the quilt creators to make money in some way to continue their art or make a living wage ( as a note do not get into show quilting for the money.. even if you win a lot it is not a way to get rich) but what I don't want to see is the same quilts dominate each and every show they enter.
I don't know the answer but I suspect it has something to do with the quilt show producers paying the owners of these magnificent quilts a percentage based on show attendance and putting these amazing quilts in a show only /non-competing category of their own after they have won a certain number of awards or ribbons.
Let their quilts be admired, and photographed and studied. Let them make money on their talent while still letting all boats rise on the positive tide that is quilting.
What say you... is your personal boat lifted by your time at quilt shows?