"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. 
In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to 
sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to 
their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."

Rabindranth Tagore

Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.

First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


This week art quilters are holding their collective breath, waiting to find out whether their quits got into the San Diego Visions exhibition or not. It’s a big deal, because the show is right up there with Quilt National as validation that you’re doing good work in the art quilt world.

Here are my quilts. Both from the Sacred Planet series. Digital prints transformed into yardage by spoonflower.com. Over-dyed, assembled and screen printed before I layered them onto Ecofelt, and added the stitching. I love them.

Neither got into the exhibition. And yes, I was disappointed.

But not surprised.

I know it’s time to admit I’m not really an art quilt maker. I’ve been rejected from lots of quilt exhibitions over the past three years, and every time the thought runs through my head that I ought to wake up and smell the coffee. I’m not getting into quilt shows because my heart isn’t into making quilts. Entering quilt shows is a fall back, because it’s familiar, it’s popular, it’s easy, and it used to work. I know how to do it. But that doesn’t make it right.

Of course, you may be thinking that maybe my work just wasn’t good enough. You could be right. The pieces I entered in Visions in 2008 were definitely not resolved – my work was transitioning and I didn’t know where it was going. The pieces I entered had potential, but they weren’t any good. I wasn’t at all surprised when the rejection notice arrived in the mail. I cut up the quilts, made small wall pieces and kept struggling to find my center.

But that isn’t always true. What is true? Sometimes jurors don’t like the color, or they don’t like figurative imagery, or they want more stitching. Sometimes jurors cut deals. I know this. I’ve been a juror. Knowing this, it’s relatively easy not to take rejection personally anymore. It might not be about me.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t have any business entering art quilt shows. Here’s the truth: I never quilt a piece anymore, unless I want to get it into a quilt show. And that’s just bad form.

For one thing, it doesn’t honor the artists who adore art quilts and relish every stitch required to complete a piece. Those are the artists who deserve to be in Visions. So congratulations to them. And if your work is good, and you didn’t get in, don’t take it too personally. Someday your juror will come. In the meantime, keep working. Get better.

As for me, I guess it’s time to read the writing on the wall. No more art quilt shows. I’ll do the part I love – all that seductive, slurpy surface design - and I’ll let go of the impulse to turn it into something it’s not.

Anyone interested in a 950 Bernina?


  1. There is also the fact that there were perhaps just too many pieces of a similar ilk submitted for a show and many had to go, to give a more balanced show. Perhaps not in your case Jane, but I think this sometimes happens.

  2. I, too, was declined for Visions. Over 600 entries and they accepted 40. I guess we can add another chunk of wallpaper to that room that we are filling with those thin envelopes! I love being in your company, either way the wind blows!

  3. Jane, those pieces are amazing. Very progressive, as always. Fitting into a mold isn't important, as you know, just doing what you love. You are always a forerunner.....sell you machine on Ebay!

  4. I think I'l actually keep the machine. I may need it to darn socks.

  5. I was just about to say, "Don't sell the sewing machine. You can always darn or make clothes." And anyway, who cares about an ole juror? Your work is exquisite and it brings joy to the hearts of those who view it. Just ask us here in the Ozarks who got a chance to see it up close and personal. We love you and think you are a genius. And yes, we're having fun on Spoonflower.com whether or not we ever cut the cloth.

  6. Jane,

    I found your two pieces to be visually stunning.
    So, I checked out the Vision entry rules - sure enough they only want quilts...

    " An entry is considered to be a quilt if it is composed of three layers, two layers of cloth filled with “batting material” and held together by “stitched” design"
    e-gads! that is even a tighter description than Quilt National's:

    The work must possess the basic structural characteristics of a quilt. It must be predominantly fabric or fabric-like material and must be composed of at least two full and distinct layers -- a face layer and a backing layer -- that are held together by hand- or machine-made functional quilting stitches or other elements that pierce all layers and are distributed throughout the surface of the work.

    Given the flummox over the nature of this craft, I found the title of this year's Visions exhibit to be incongruous: 'Quilt Visions 2010 - No Boundaries'

    no boundaries eh?

  7. Jane,

    I spend the year+ enjoying the daily posting of your photos on Daily Visuals, and stumbled across a reference to your new blog by sheer coincidence. Welcome back to blog land!

    The two pieces you posted are absolutely gorgeous. Sorry to hear about the rejection from the Visions show, but your wish to give up on the quilting and pursue your work in your own form is is greatly appreciated. As a newer fabric artist still working to explore what you and others have taught about this form -- something well beyond, or just very different from quilting -- I have managed to feel this difference more than once.

    Looking forward to joining the conversations in your Neighborhood.

  8. Somehow this blog is set up differently--probably I've done something, but I wasn't finding the latest. I'll try to catch up! ah, rejection, it's sure enough out there, isn't it! Someone waiting, just waiting to cut people down to size. That's what it feels like sometimes and they seem to be everywhere. Just as my understanding continues to grow, I encounter those who disapprove of whatever it is that I'm doing. (I'm trying for Quilt National this fall though.) I don't think that I'm getting tougher because that would make me inflexible too. And sometimes I get really tired and wounded by rigid people--those who are unable to say 'God' and 'She' in the same sentence or to accept a quilt that represents cabbages of many colors. When I feel wounded, I am learning to seek community to help me make it through. To paraphrase a song from dear old 'Camelot,' that's what the simple folk do!"