Is it all in a name?

I had an interesting dinner a few weekends ago with a good friend who used to be the associate director of the Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition Service and is now the director of the Smithsonian Resident Associates. She is used to being around art and I always trust her instincts. On top of that, her husband, Mark, photographs all of my work as well as the work of other quilters and fine artists. He is the official photographer for the National Portrait Gallery, so he knows his stuff.

I was telling them about my recent work being rejected- Mark had photographed them and knew the pieces well and was surprised. But, what was interesting was the conversation that followed on influence and appropriation. We talked about these two subjects for about an hour, and it dawned on me that while I might have been influenced by both Picasso and indigenous artists, my work might be seen as ripping off African art. And now I kind of see that too.

Yesterday it occurred to me that I might be aiding and abetting  this by the name I chose to identify these works- the Totem Series. That moniker goes directly to indigenous cultures and probably does not help my work. In truth I have not really looked at too many totems, and when selecting a name, I ran into problems. Normally my work is influenced by a feeling, by events, by emotions. In this case, my work was more influenced by a love for a certain kind of fabric and the desire to play.

So, I took the unusual step of renaming the entire series, "Indigo Compositions." I feel better about this. And I do not know if it will change the way they are received, but I feel that they are more honest words, and it will be interesting to see if they are more successful under a new name. I also think that it allows me to broaden this grouping as I continue to experiment.

I'm working slowly these days, hand stitching one piece and machine stitching a really large piece, The Day After No. 5. My wrist continues to heal but is pesky when the weather changes or it is cold. I find that if I switch up what I am doing it is easier. I am starting to formulate ideas for a new piece, but want to get these two pieces off my table before I get involved in another piece. Right now I have too many quilts vying for my attention- which is sometimes fleeting.

Today I say goodbye to Circles No. 6 as it joins and exhibition for the American embassy in Senegal. It will be living abroad for 3 years. The curator from the State Department is due to pick it up in an hour and I feel like I am send another kid off into the world.

I also invested some time this week looking into galleries that might be interested in a one woman show. It is slow work, but I am starting to get ideas on what and how I would present my work to a venue.

Lots to be thankful for this year. Family. Health. Comfortable life. Good friends and neighbors. So Happy Thanksgiving to all. I will try to count my blessings instead of focusing on the irritants. xxoo J
by JudyK