Category Archives: Journey

Penland Winter Artist in Residence {experience}

Overall, I loved the two weeks I spent at Penland School of Craft, as a Winter Artist in Residence. The people were amazing. It was so fun to see what everyone was doing in each of the studios. It was amazing just to kick off my new life as ?, who knows (yes, I quit my job with no plans but to rebalance and rejuvenate and work on some art). I am getting ahead of myself though…

I was all prepared, or so I thought, after I had received the acceptance to Penland’s Winter Residency (application process covered in this post). I had paid the housing and studio fees (as I was working a full-time job). I had approved vacation from work, and knew what materials I was taking with me (even organized a cart to move things from my car to the studio – was very useful). The week before leaving, I re-read the email and realized that I also need to organize food for the two weeks. Not a big deal but sent me in a tail-spin the week before. I cooked a couple of meals and made homemade granola for breakfasts, luckily, as a side product, also left the boys (husband and son) with 5 or 6 meals for the weeks I was away.

Accommodation was similar to a dorm style. I had paid for separate room and shower which I was very happy with. My sleep was so-so for the two weeks getting used to all the noises of other people was more difficult than I expected. I was in the textile studio, with about 10 others in total (4 quilters including me, a fellow and 4 weavers) which was across the other side of campus….good news I got 10,000 steps in every day walking up and down the hill to and from the studio. The views were amazing. The cafe on campus had great coffee and supplemented my meals with amazing soups.

Favorite things

  • The people were amazing. Across all the 15 studios there were about 80 people in the first two weeks. I got to walk around the studios and see what people were doing with metal, iron, clay, print, letterpress, paper, photography, wood, etc. It was really nice being around people who had a daily art practice. Living in the dorm meant I also got to meet and have great conversations with folks not in the textile studio.
  • The view meant great photo opportunities and I was surprised, was my favorite activity while I was there. Getting up early for the frost and mist rolling through the trees of the mountains, the snow for the day we had snow, and the clouds on the gloomy day changing constantly as they worked their way around the mountain. I captured what I thought were great photos.
  • I enjoyed a quick trip to Downtown Asheville for coffee and some art at the Momentum Gallery which was fantastic and something to aspire too.
  • The “intro” event was really great to see. On the second or third afternoon, we all gathered in the big hall and got to see the photos of the entries we had submitted. It was a really good way to see people’s finished work previous to them coming to Penland.
  • The final gallery night, where we were able to hang and show our work was a great opportunity. Talented people with beautiful finishes. Also, I was surprised at how much the local community came and supported the event too. Very supportive community.

Things I appreciated

  • By far, the dedicated time and space where the only thing I was expected to do was make. I allowed myself time to start decompressing from the job, have conversations with others in the textile studio in particular and enjoy the experience. Did I do my best work? No I don’t think so and that was ok. I really used the time to kickstart my creativity, experiment on a couple of ideas that had been percolating a long while and let the journey be what it needed to be. I think I left in a good place to come back and get ready for my solo show later in the year.
  • I also enjoyed how Penland organized activities for us to interact with each other. Taco Truck Friday’s and the open studio was a lot of fun, even though we had some car/snow trouble. The Pot Luck Thursdays was also a lot of fun, especially since I like to cook and made Pan Sheet Chicken the first week and Bacon and Egg Pie the second week.
  • I appreciated the focus on inclusion and diversity that Penland is trying to create. I do think they offer a safe space, especially for the NC mountain region.
  • Since I was able to drive, I also bought everything from home I needed. This saved me costs in studio fees which was well equipped.
  • Two weeks was the perfect time for being away from home. Even without a job to go back too, there were family things that would have made 4 weeks difficult and I really needed more sleep.

Things I didn’t like or would like to change

  • I would like to take more advantage of the textile facilities and try hand dyeing and screen printing while I was in the studio. I also would like to work across studios – like print or use photography techniques to make fabric for the quilting aspects of my work. Alternatively, look at some of the other studios and incorporate ways to make more sculptural pieces with fabric (more to come on this as the idea is just forming).
  • The textile studio, third floor is really well supplied for dressmaking/fashion. It was not great for quilters as the tables were high. As a short person, I had to use a footrest on a couple of fabric bolt inserts to get my pedal at the right height. I made it work for the two weeks but appreciated coming home to the right height table.
  • It would have been nice not to worry about food etc during the stay, especially the snow days when you couldn’t leave the property (ice on the mountains). During the rest of the year the kitchen is open and meals are provided (for additional cost).
  • I didn’t realize how stressed I was coming off the job. I still experienced panic events during my stay that I managed through breathing techniques. Also, meeting all those new people was a little overwhelming, I felt awkward which also meant I think over compensated. I felt a little out of my depth being around artists, many studied art for college. I would like to do this again after I am more comfortable of where I am.
  • Next time, I would like to do more photography and go up Roan Mountain or explore the waterfalls. I did go down to the historic post office which was fun, hence why I would like to explore more. I don’t need Penland to do this so I might look for a trip in spring or fall for a long weekend.

My work

The goal for my work was to keep things small which meant I finished two pieces and got to experiment on two pieces working on techniques.

Live Life

When I turned 45, I realized I had probably lived more years than the years I have to live. This made me think about how I want to live the rest of my life. This piece was inspired on the tree of life block, played with the shape and also creation of negative space in the right side, the latter years of life. I also wanted to explore using up cycled fabrics and using panels that could add structure (for it to hang away from the wall).

Carbon under Pressure

Explored using improv strip pieces shaped as diamonds, which started to remind me of the pressure I was under at work constantly and how pressure forms you and your response, a lot of the time changing who you are (not always for the better).

Let’s talk: Making Invisible Visible

This is an idea I have, taking the words of invisible disabilities and creating them as blocks in cream and white using reverse appliquè. I plan on including as many as I can but I was worried if I had to carry this around as a whole quilt how would that work. I was able to experiment with individual blocks and join them after being quilted. It worked well and now allows me to explore this project more.

Cairns (finding your way/path)

I have created a design a couple of years ago inspired by Leon Polk Smith that represents a stack of stones (Cairns). I wanted to make this, keeping the natural curved edges so I experimented with a smaller version. I liked that I could zig-zag the edge instead of binding. I also got to think through making the templates for the ovals. There will be a larger version coming soon too.

Would I recommend it?

I really would recommend this experience to anyone, to apply for the two weeks whether you just need a change of environment or need to get away from work and/or family. It was a great time working on my own work and meeting artists across many medians. Right now, I am thinking I would like to do another artist in residence in another location, or redo Penland but experience another studio like printmaking, Letterpress or photography.

Art Journey – Artist-in-Residence {Part 3}

Getting more involved in the art community has been such a great experience so far and I have learnt so much. In my previous posts, I talked about setting goals to get started (Part 1) and how I applied for exhibitions (Exhibitions – Part 2). This post is about applying for artist-in-residence programs.

The basics

What are they?
An Artist-in-residence program give artists the opportunity to live and work outside of their usual environments, providing them with time to reflect, research, or produce work (Artnet News). Many of the artist in residence, I have found, also provides you with

  • Connection to other artists to help grow your community, and
  • Can give you exposure for your work to seen or more visible.

How long are they?
They vary in length. I have seen many be for a full year to a month long. The one I applied for was only two weeks which was perfect, as at the time I applied, I still was working full-time and also had family responsibilities. There are not many that are only 2 weeks though.

How do you find them?
Similar to exhibitions, there are calls for Artist in Residence. They can be found on organizations web pages/newsletter (eg. Penland School of Craft, MacDowell, Ox-bow), local art studios and some galleries, or from Call for Entry applications like CaFÉ. Also, keep an eye out for art organizations that support artists, as they may repost calls for entry and artist-in-residence programs.

What do they cost? Does an Artist-in-Residence program pay?
This is an interesting question, and again it varies but the organizations are usually clear upfront. You may have to pay for an application fee. For the actual Artist-in-Residence Program, if you have to pay (usually for things like lodging or studio fees) they will let you know during the application process and usually there are scholarship options to help if you need it. Many artist-in-residence program include accommodation, studio space, supplies and a stipend. The application descriptions will let you know what is included and what isn’t so you can make the most informed decision you can.

How many people will be accepted?
Again this varies. It may be one for that particular residency you are applying for, especially if the organization is a studio or gallery based organization. It may be many people, if the organization has multiple studio settings. For example, Penland School of Craft Winter Residency had approximately 80 people across the 15 different studios (buildings). There were 8 people in the Textile studio when I was there.

What will you need ready for applying?
Read the application process thoroughly before applying so you can be prepared. I have found typically you will need:

  • Resume / CV (no more than 1-2 pages)
  • Artist Statement proposing what you want to accomplish in the time during residency.
  • Images of your work (Typically 4-10 images)
  • Image list or descriptions of the supplied images
  • References (this varies; could be just a list of a couple names and their contact details or they may ask for formal letters)
  • Questionnaire (Varies again but they may asks questions based on getting a sense of suitability)

My Submission to Penland School Winter Residency

Penland School of Craft offers many residencies. The one I applied for was their Winter Residency which was a choice of two or four week stay. Like I mentioned, I chose two weeks due to my current commitments. Here are some of the details in my application:

Application Fee: $30
Costs: $1000 (included studio fee and housing in private room w/ private bathroom – cheaper was available; also scholarships are available but since I was working full-time I could afford the costs)
Food: No meals were provided but Kitchens were available also meals from the onsite cafe.
Project Proposal: For my proposal, I mentioned why I needed a two week residency – time away from family and work to focus on my textile art exploration. I discussed that I wanted to explore designing and making quilts that explored who I am, my emotions and events that impacted or affected me. I wanted to work smaller (~20″) and use up-cycled materials in my work.
Resume/CV: I reworked my resume to reduce it to 1 page (typically I have in my resume exhibitions/shows, publications, and teaching experience for just the last 3 years).
Images and Descriptions: Images I used are below. I focused them around my proposal, so I included Isolation, Aroha, Home and One of these things.

If you have any questions, let me know and I am happy to answer them based on my experience. I will write another post to fill you in on my Residency at Penland which was amazing. I will be applying for other artist-in-residence in future (probably for 2024 unless they are local as its hard to be away from family).

Art Journey – Exhibitions {Part 2}

Sorry for the delay in this post. The last quarter of 2022 was so busy as I was transitioning my out of my job and the company I worked for, for 24 years. Also, in December I got to go Morocco and came back from traveling with COVID. It was a very interesting year end.

Just a reminder, this is what I have found or done on my journey moving from being a quilter to a textile artist. This may or may not be the best path for you. Let’s talk about how to get into an exhibition and where to start.

Where do I start?

I have found most galleries will have a call to entry. This could be for a curated exhibition (themed or a group exhibition) with multiple people participating or it could be a call for a solo exhibition – all the pieces will come from one person.

I do multiple things to keep an eye out for the call for entries:

  1. Follow places I am interested in exhibiting at on social media and sign-up to their newsletters if they have one. I tend to do this with places that are local to me, for example: Artspace NC, Cam Raleigh, McColl Center, and 311 Gallery.
  2. Join groups that have exhibitions regularly and/or post other opportunities. Here are examples of some local places to me Durham Art Guild, Fine Arts League of Cary and some inter/national groups such as SAQA, Surface Design Associates, Fiber Art Now.
  3. Sign-up for sites that post Call of Entries for galleries, shows and other companies. The most common one I found was Cafè (note it is not specific to quilts but provide a lot of opportunities for art shows….after all Quilts = Art).

In Preparation for Submission

In preparation, for submitting your quilts to a call for entry, here are the things I have on hand just in case. These can be daunting at first but once you have them prepared it is much easier.

  1. Artist Bio (biography): This is a description, in the third person, about me. I keep bio to ~200 words and at times I will have to cut it down to 100 words. This should cover the artist career highlights, and a summary of their work to the present day. If you have been formally trained then also include education.
  2. Artist Statement: An artist statement is usually a statement that accompanies a selection of new art and explains the artist’s process and motivation as they created those artworks.This can be different depending on what you are applying for. If you are submitting a specific piece you would talk about that piece. If you are submitting for a solo exhibition it would be about the theme and goal of the your pieces that go into that exhibition.
  3. Resume: You may be asked to submit a resume which should include what you have done as an artist such as previous exhibitions/shows (include your quilt shows too), also include other things you have done as an artist. I include publications, teaching, and volunteer activities. It should not be longer than two pages. Depending on what I am applying for I change these categories around, since we are talking about exhibits here make sure that is at the top.
  4. Like other quilt shows, also have available, material used in quilt, date finished, name of art piece, dimensions, and amount you are willing to sell it for. You may want to have a list prepared and stored in a document so it is editable and easy to copy.
  5. Have you photo images ready. I have found that the images of your quilt must be flat and on a white background and usually a high quality image. If selected they may use this image for the exhibit marketing materials. You may need also a detail shot but this is less likely for an art exhibition.

You may never have written an artist statement before or created an artist statement, best advice I can give you is to take a look at other artists, ones that are similar to you and ones that are not. What did you like and not like and style yours based on that.

Applying for a Call For Entry

  1. It is important to read the instructions and any additional details they provide. These instructions will let you know:
    • if there are any restrictions (like size, or if they are looking for specific theme or a focus that excludes your medium) or
    • the selection process (judging and dates for announcements and delivery of your piece) or
    • the piece must be sellable and how much the gallery will keep vs. how much you will receive.
    • Hanging instructions, you may need it “ready to hang” includes wire etc.
  2. Most call for entries will have a fee.
  3. Exhibitions may have prize money.
  4. If you are applying for a solo show, make sure you read the fine print on the photos you submit. They will either ask for x number of photos of the art pieces (quilts) you will be showing (and you must show these quilts with substitutions if you have to but it is usually of a similar piece) or you will be asked to submit a “portfolio” of your work that matches the Artist Statement you submit. In this case, they don’t have to be the exact pieces for the final show.

Important, I save all images and documents for each call for entry in its own folder, even if that means I duplicate things. This way you have a record of what you submitted in case you need to validate down the line. I also keep a spread sheet with the following information: Name of quilt, date made, size, link to artist statement for the one piece, submission/call for entry, date of deadline, date of announcement, date to ship by, Accepted or not, shipped (Y/N), Date of shipped, expected date of return and other notes of importance.

Additional Information for Solo Exhibition

In my experience (accepted for my first solo exhibition), once selected for a solo exhibition the process differs slightly.

  1. You may have to sign a contract committing to dates and space, opening reception, hanging and takedown dates and times etc.
  2. You may or may not sell your work. If you sell your work again the gallery will take a commission so consider that in your prices. If you aren’t allowed to sell your work ask if you can provide a flyer or information at the door for with contact information (or even prices).
  3. Ask for the layout of the Gallery, wall and floor space. Get the dimensions of where you can hang work and what size you can use in each space. Consider windows, doors or other non-useable space.
  4. Ask about what will be available to hang with and what is allowed.
  5. Make sure you organize folks to help hang and take down the show if it is your responsibility.

Art Exhibition vs. Quilt Show

There are similarities and differences between the submission process for a quilt show vs. an exhibit. Here is a list to see some differences:

Exhibit ProcessQuilt Show Process
Eligibility Rules and guidelines
Instructions for Call for Entry Instructions for submission
Photo full view
(High quality, white background,
photo must meet size and naming requirements)
Photo full view
(High quality, white background,
photo must meet size and naming requirements)
N/A Photo detail view (High quality, white
background, meeting size and naming
Artist Statement (description of solo show/
or single piece submission; possibly in a separate
Description of Quilt (typically within
Year made Year made
Artist Biography (separate document) N/A
(typical, and gallery will take commission 30 or higher is possible)
Choice between Sellable or not for sale
(usually the curator will be announced in the call for entry)
Juried into the show and then Judged.

Above is the most common processes and expectations I have seen but this may vary if it is an online show vs. in-person, or if the exhibit is an open call where everyone will have a piece accepted but typically there is another process where a curator will choose top pieces or a smaller exhibition that will follow-on.

I am happy to share any of the documents, I mention above, if you are interested. Let me know if you have any questions.