Monday, March 27, 2017

Reflections on my solo quilt show


It's taken me a few weeks to get my thoughts in order, so here we are! My solo exhibition of 20 original quilts opened at the Quilt and Sewing Fest of New Jersey, a Mancuso show, from March 2-5, and it was a crazy, out-of-body experience.

I've had the thrill of seeing my quilts in shows before, but it was totally surreal to walk up to the section featuring just my work. Sometimes, it felt like I was walking naked into a room because, quite honestly, it was like baring my soul to the world (okay, I was also wearing a faculty name tag so some figured out that I was the artist pretty fast, haha). But excitement overcame mild trepidation.

Today, I have some thoughts about the show. If you have further questions, just let me know in an email or comment!

I taught classes at Quilt Fest on Thursday and Friday, and I spent most of my free time that weekend showing the exhibit to family and friends who came to visit (thank you so much for your unending support!). So many of my guild members came to see the show and I had the pleasure of bumping into them and/or walking around with them. My family helped me pack up everything when all was said and done. It was truly a team effort!

My dad and I, before take down. He's so supportive (he even reads my quilting newsletter, though he has zero interest in quilting beyond my love for it). :)

Speaking of parents, my totally-into-quilts-already-has-several-of-her-own-but-wants-more mom got in on this one! :)

My best friend/former college roommate and her mom visited! I love this picture of us (we don't take nearly enough anymore, partially because we don't see each other too often).

How could I choose which 20 quilts to put in the show? Well, there was some criteria. First, I decided to stick to original designs, which is most of my work (that was the easy part). It had to be something considerably show-worthy (everyone has those first couple years of quilts they want to redo, right?). Now, I am NOT a show quilter and I embrace imperfection (especially in stitch length - see that explanation here), but I still wanted the quilts to be technically sound.

Finally, I chose quilts that seem to most embody "me": saturated, bold colors, unique free motion and walking foot quilting, quilted words, and orange peels. I wrote more about how I prepared for the exhibit itself here.

It was such a pleasure to meet so many of you at the show! 
Thank you for your support and for saying hi! 

While I was near my quilts, I overheard some of the things people were saying. I heard one lady telling her group that she would need a special machine to do quilting like mine (I really wanted to go up and tell her that it's totally possible on a domestic machine, because that's how I do all my quilting! ;) ).

People tell me that my quilts have a style, and only now, with so many of them hung up together, did I really understand that. Often, your work, as varied as it may be in color, shape, and quilting, can be one and the same. It was a really interesting concept to contemplate that weekend.

So, I've been asked - what's happened as a result of the show? I shared my work with the world, outside of the internet and guild meetings - which was really exciting. I've booked several classes and lectures since, and received encouraging and humbling emails. All my quilts are now show-ready for other engagements or just for hanging up in my house (labelled and quilt sleeved), so I'll call that a huge win on my end. :) Thank you again to the Mancuso staff and Quilt Fest for this amazing opportunity!

I'll be back later in the week with a full tour of the exhibit with more comments and links to each quilt. It would have made this post super extra mega long!


  1. Congratulations to you on the success of your solo show. I know this had to be an amazing experience for you. I continue to enjoy the journey of your creative growth that you allow me to take with you through your blog and newsletter.

  2. Oh, Jess, how Wonderful and so very well deserved! It's great that your folks, friends, and guildmates could celebrate with you. Can't wait till your next post! And I love seeing your rainbow bookcase quilt--I hadn't found you yet when you posted it, and it's delightful!

  3. So proud of you Jess! It's been great to watch you progressed over the years! You definitely do have your own original style! Yeah you!

  4. Congrats on your solo show! That's awesome and terrifying all at the same time! I can only imagine how you felt.

  5. So fun to tour your section of the show here on the blog!

  6. Congrats! This is such a cool thing you got to do and it's so cool to see everything all hung up together. :)

  7. Congratulations, Jessica! So exciting! I can't wait to see the full tour!

  8. Wow, the quilts look amazing together. Congrats on putting together a show.

  9. It sounds like a wonderful experience! I am so glad it went so well and the kind emails, new teaching opportunities, and wonderful reception are all well deserved! Thanks for sharing so many photos so I can enjoy it all, too. Hooray!! <3

  10. This is so fantastic, Jess! Your quilts are awesome and unique and you do have your own style! x Teje

  11. Congratulations. It sounds like it was a great experience.

  12. Congrats! I'm looking forward to the complete tour.

  13. This is so awesome. I secretly dream of having a quilting exhibition someday, so it's neat to see the thoughts and work you put into this. I totally understand how having so many quilts on public display would make you feel naked! But wow, what a cool experience! I wish I could have gone to visit.


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