I’m in a constant state of trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I’ve already made the choice to be a mother, so that pretty much dictates the majority of my priorities. I also feel compelled to make art. So I am always trying to find the right balance between the two. Lately I’ve been feeling like the art is taking away too much time from the mothering and housewifey stuff I should be doing, and as long as the art isn’t paying any bills or leading anywhere specific, that is probably not the right balance.
In the last few years I’ve set a few goals to focus my work (helps with finding the balance thing). One decision was to enter only local shows if they seemed appropriate, or non-local shows if they were really important ones like Quilt National, with a recognized reputation. In that vein I entered work into Quilts=Art=Quilts and Art Quilt Elements, which seem to be highly regarded in the art quilt world. Amazingly, my quilt “War Sucks,” was accepted into both!
So now I’ve had work hanging in Q=A=Q for over a month but the only feedback I’ve gotten was a flurry of Facebook comments from friends that they are proud of my work being in the show, and emails from the venue promoting quasi-related events at the gallery. Somehow I was expecting more. A catalog (OK, I admit, that’s something I knew going in, and QN and Art Quilt Elements do publish catalogs), or more importantly, some kind of review of the show. I’d love to know if the art world thinks this show is better than last year’s, or not, or reflects some of the current zeitgeist, or shows trends towards larger or smaller work, and which works in particular stood out for whatever reason. Perhaps just knowing that I got in should be enough. That I did not win any of the awards is a critique in itself as well. I asked on the SAQA discussion board if anyone else had perhaps seen a review in a magazine or somewhere, and the general response was that reviews of art quilt shows are not productive and cause more harm than good. I should be happy that my work was accepted. Maybe my disappointment is just a symptom of my tendency to self sabotage.
I have to wonder though, why do I want to get my work shown in these supposedly high cache venues? Are there that many more people coming to view the art than say, at my local library? Is there any more discussion about the artworks than say if they were displayed at the coffee shop down the street? If I’m not actively marketing my work, do I stand any better chance of selling my work than through my website? If I can make it through the jurying process, then why not just try showing in a local gallery where I can at least come see the art in context, and even talk to viewers first hand? Getting back to the balance thing, I wonder what’s the big deal, and why am I doing this? I could probably make a bigger impact by focusing more on my family and creating a healthier environment for them to flourish.
I suspect that I set these shows on a pedestal. I suspect my expectations were too high and my gratitude too low.