Saturday, June 9, 2012

Wisconsin SDA Spring Meeting May 19, 2012

Sara Von Tresckow has opinions about over-conscientious meter readers, neighborhood schools that decline her invitations to graze sheep on their athletic fields and the value of doing personal research in textile history and weaving. She says one can be self-taught but first look to seminal works in museums, learn to use bibliographies and check out older books beyond their copyright. Useful links are & 
She also knows a good tea when she tastes one. Sara and her husband Hans were our hosts for the Wisconsin SDA meeting held Saturday May 19th at their store, The Woolgatherers Ltd. in Fond du Lac. See Jill Robinson's post about Sara, Hans, the store's history and its unique mix of new and old school supplies.

Somewhere between its mid-morning start and its late afternoon close our spring meeting became a mini symposium. No one wanted to break. We were just that happy to be together to talk about fibers and our lives related to fibers and creative expression. Certain themes around play and risk taking developed. Call it a Fiberholics Anonymous meeting except we shared last names. Also, talk about our substance of choice was not discouraged. There were nine of us around a U- shaped table in the shop's classroom space and over 2 pots of aforementioned tea (Harney's Green with Citrus and an East Freesian Black) we introduced ourselves. We each spoke with humor and passion about our lives and current journeys with fiber and textiles. We found lots of laughs and common threads.

Jean McCulloch Harper and Alison Gates in the shop

Jean McCulloch Harper from the Shawano/Clintonville area started us out. The following day she’d be heading out to Durango, Colorado for a second dyeing and felting workshop with Lisa Klakulik whom she met at the SDA conference in Minneapolis last June. It was Jean who said she was devoting the rest of her life to playing with every medium she ever taught in. Not to make light of the wisdom and commitment in her statement, but it reminded me of the notion behind Cooking with Julia but with a lot more courage and fewer dishes to wash. Great artists and teachers never stop growing and learning. Jean’s both.

Textile archeology and gender politics came up too. Fibers help tell history and the history of women is tied up with cloth in a big way. University of Wisconsin Green Bay Textiles professor Alison Gates told us about her involvement with Helen Klebesadel's Exquisitie Uterus Project (Here’s a cute little knit one for you, Mr. Legislator, so keep your laws off mine.) Alison says you can participate in a similar design challenge. The project here is different -- more of a political yet very personal statement. It would be interesting to start a discussion here about the process of embellishing one’s (Spoonflower fabric template) uterus, no? Alison will be posting more on this topic but ladies and gentlemen if you just can’t wait to start your uteri here are the links you'll want:   Helen's Blog  and Template from Spoonflower What personal political stories and reflections would that call up? I can think of a few worth sharing. Maybe others are interested in exploring political aspects of art in general... 

Sara demonstrating her computer assisted dobby loom with Susan Leschke and Jenny McComb looking on

Stevens Point sculptural fiber artist Susan Leschke brought fellow fiber artist jazz musician Jenny McComb. Their friendship started in a class that Susan taught.  Both mentioned the influence of grandmothers in their work and that push/pull between play and performance and knowing the rules so you can break them more artistically. With grace and honesty they helped us explore reclaiming physical and emotional space for our studio and personal work. Then Alison mentioned the idea of the older emerging artist. Hits home, doesn't it?

Marcia Anop Romashko, Hans and Jill Robinson loving the linen

Former English teacher Marcia Anop-Romashko of Genessee picked up Alison’s thread when she talked about her formal and informal studies with Gail Harker in LaConner, Washington She spoke of committing to learn the rules, knowing the structure of textiles and the strength of the community/sorority of artists in her graduating class and the value of buying a puppy to comfort the family we leave behind those weeks away while we're out following our muse.  Art quilter and former SDA WI state rep Jill Robinson also reflected on breaking rules, coloring outside the lines (most recently with deconstructed screen printing and soy batik), new leadership and the direction we’d like to take in the national and WI SDA. We explored ways to connect with other members in our own neighborhoods and at bigger seasonal fiber related events and meetings. We are committed and looking forward to building our fiber community both face to face and on line. There’ll be more on how to do that here very soon. As the new SDA Wisconsin Area Rep I’m looking forward to hearing your voice, opinions, desires and needs and getting to know you better. Email me any time. Subscribe to this blog by email or RSS.

I hope you're getting a sense of the depth of discussion and great energy that filled our time together.  Join us for our next meeting in September. We considered connecting with the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool festival weekend September 6-8 in Jefferson County, perhaps meeting in a university textiles classroom or doing member studio tours in the future. Would scheduling a meeting that weekend at the festival be an incentive to come or would it pull you away from the conference? Let me know how you feel about that. I recently moved to a mid-century modern house in Milwaukee (It’s kind of like living on the set of Mad Men because it’s all 60’s all of the time) and would be happy to host but it's quite a distance from Jefferson. Before then check out the blog this summer and if you haven't yet renewed your membership, please do. Alison has an article in the August SDA Journal and you won't want to miss it. Follow this link and click on Join Us in the bottom right corner. You can also learn more about new SDA President Jane Dunnewold and Executive Director Diane Sandlin who are looking at all ways to improve what SDA can offer its members.

From left: Jill Robinson, Marcia Romashko, Alison Gates,  Jean McCulloch Harper,
Jenny McComb, Lisa Sattell and Susan Leschke

We closed the meeting by sharing recent work. To call it Show and Tell really doesn't do the level of fine craft and creativity justice, but if you have a better term do post a comment below. I look forward to connecting with you in the months ahead. In the meantime, here are some pics to inspire and enjoy. Talk soon, Lisa

Jean McCulloch Harper's hand dyed silk, felt laminated, and embellished scarves

City Block 5- Jill Robinson's hand-dyed and soy batik cotton art quilt

"Tree Keeper in the Garden" (work in progress) Hand Embroidery by Susan Leschke 

Marcia Anop Romashko's machine and hand-embroidered embellished book

Details from Marcia Anop Romashko's handmade book

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