09 Jan

Applying for Membership

We’re talking artist dates this month at The Sketchbook Challenge. My post is about the weekly life drawing group I attend, but there are other ideas as well, including ideas on how to get comfortable drawing in public.

On the personal front, I am applying to become an Associate member at the art center in town. It appears to be a well rounded organization housed in an old school. The classrooms are now artist studios, plus they have a small gift shop and a gallery which shows members’ work on a monthly basis. Members also offer classes, and there are three life drawing sessions that meet each week for a very reasonable drop-in fee. Overall I find the work to be high quality, and the artists to be friendly and supportive. I would like to be able to count myself amongst their ranks.

To become a Studio or Associate member, one must submit a resume, artist statement, and four to six works completed in the last three years. While all of these requirements were easy to fulfill, I learned some things about my work while determining which pieces to include.

I knew I wanted to focus on my Army Wife series because that is what excites me right now, but my small rooted house pieces are more appropriate for the gift shop so I thought it would be nice to include them as well. I could have pulled together a body of work based on my rooted houses and traditional quilts, but I didn’t think it would have as much impact as The Army Wife series. Besides, most of the house pieces are over three years old anyway.

I see my Army Wife quilts and aprons as one continuum, so in my mind if I am still working on the series then all the work is relatively new, right? Wrong of course. I’ve been working so slowly on this project that many of the pieces are now more than three years old. So, unfortunately, some of the pieces which would have made bridges or told a particular story are ineligible. War Sucks was out and so was Aquifer. Then there’s the work of selecting pieces which work cohesively. I would have loved to include The Other Woman, but not only does it require a bit of installation that was impractical at this point, it has a completely different color scheme. I auditioned several of my Twelve by Twelve pieces, but their story lines were muddled because of their provenance. My Maps piece worked well with The Other Woman, but they looked too aesthetically different from the aprons and large quilts I wanted to include. A Soldier Emerges didn’t add anything new to the grouping in terms of technique or visuals and Twelve Months is too old.

What did I ultimately choose? Apparently, I’ve only made two large art quilts in the past three years: Medallion for an Army Family, and Absence II. I thought I had been more productive than that (back to that timelessness continuum). I wanted to include these because quilting is the basis of my artwork. The Torn From The Roots apron was a definite because it references my rooted work and plays nicely with the two large quilts. I would have loved to include the Home Fires apron, but it is still on tour with SAQA’s Beyond Comfort show. I considered the War Sucks apron, now updated with a red slash instead of actual words, but chose instead to show other media and include Be Strong (felted and embroidered) and Unravelling (knit from uniform undershirts).

One of the art center members suggested that I include my life drawing sketchbooks to show that I have the traditional drawing skills as well and that I already utilize the art center’s offerings. Because I felt I had a cohesive grouping of fiber art, I included two sketchbooks instead of a sixth piece of finished art.

The procedure is to drop off one’s application and artwork on a designated day. There is a classroom holding area for all the applicants’ work. The lucky painter who was at the center the same time as I was, left his framed stack of work on a table — easy for the committee to pick up and look through. My work, on the other hand, does not invite viewing when left in a folded stack. I asked if I could hang work on the walls and set up my mannequin. The organizer said yes. I could even move things around in the classroom if I needed. I asked if I could make my own little gallery show in there and she said yes. Armed with my nifty new backdrop stand, mannequin, hammer and nails, and a chair nabbed from the room, I carved out a corner for my work. Now I wait two weeks for the committee to decide which applicants to admit this year. An Associate member who I know from drawing group responded very well to my work already. Since I don’t want a studio space, I feel pretty confident that I’ll be accepted.

I do need to get busy though and transform all those half finished ideas in my head and studio into real work because finishing two or three pieces a year just isn’t enough.

4 thoughts on “Applying for Membership

  1. ..it is strange to have followed you a through time and place.and suddenly realize some of the work are “too old”..more than three years…it is such a strong and amazing body of work..I do appreciate how certain pieces may not play well with others..but in my head they do..because they reflect the many aspects of being a woman /artist/wife/ wife of a soldier/mother in today’s world…so many intangible and real parts being held together in one person..and not fragmenting..not you,not your family not your point of view.. but coming out so strongly in your work..but you made good choices..and they would be so lucky to have you in their group..

  2. Just did the same thing this fall with the local Art League. Good idea to put a sample of the different mediums you work in, since then it will not be surprising to them when you show up later with more work. Our gallery changeout is every 3 months, and is a good kick to get things done. New work was hung on Monday, and the biggest piece, a quilt, has already sold. Don’t be surprised when your work sells.

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