I come from a long line of sign writers and am happiest with a brush and some paint! Add
paint to fabric and I get really excited!!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

SAQA Atlantic welcomes you!

This week I took a foray back. Back to my roots, as I gradually realized.

SAQA. As I said to my Dad, I may never pronounce that acronym correctly. When first seeing it in print or hearing it spoken, to me it brings images of possible drum circles and ceremonial dances. Hmmm. Well, maybe I am not too far off the mark. After spending the better part of a day with members of the Atlantic Canadian division of this international group, I could really feel  - dare I call it - the spirituality and that type of bonding that comes from like minded people connecting as only they can. I can accept drumming - my heart was pounding as I realized these women spoke a language I readily understood. Dancing? Indeed. That was my creative spirit exalting in finding a new dance hall!

SAQA is loosely described as a non-profit organization which recognizes quilters.  A very loose definition indeed. Further digging on their website finds you this:

Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc. (SAQA) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the art quilt through education, exhibitions, professional development, documentation, and publications.
Founded in 1989 by an initial group of 50 artists, SAQA now boasts over 2,900 members: artists, teachers, collectors, gallery owners, museum curators and corporate sponsors.

SAQA defines an art quilt as "a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure.”

What I found in a little recreational hall in Truro, Nova Scotia was a diverse group of art fibre and textural artists who welcomed me with open arms. We were minutes late arriving - I am no navigator! Plus we had to make an all important bathroom break at Masstown Market where a breakfast cone beckoned us! My feeling? Everyone girl needs a Louise to their Thelma to make maple walnut breakfast ice cream a reality! Even late as we were, within minutes of settling into our seats, I knew the decision to come and join SAQA had been one of my smarter of late.

It was amazingly wonderful to listen to the discussions on group dynamics, building a community, expanding into the mainstream, acceptance on a more national scale, time for creativity! It was equally as wonderful beginning to put faces to art; work I had seen and admired, techniques and pieces I recognized were finding ownership within my mind.

Connections. So many artists work in isolation. Working with fibres is without question a solitary occupation. So whether you work in a remotely geographically area, or whether you don’t, much of your time creating is done alone. Time is valuable and most of us have to use ours very wisely to create because many of our methods are labor and time intensive. If you teach, you can often gain extraordinary inspiration from your students. But, it isn’t the same; the playing field is a little different because you are the one teaching these people this new language and trying to convince them to travel outside their comfort zones. Sometimes it is just really, really nice to have people accept where you are coming from creatively without having to explain yourself.

Except for the extraordinary sense of belonging I experience within my very creatively diverse family, I realized I had not experienced this feeling of community in a very, very long time. I felt it when I was a sign painting student and then working in the family sign business. I felt it when I was a student at the Holland College School of Visual Design and when I was weaving full time with my sister, Joanne. I even felt it briefly when I took my first quilting class, but that sense of belonging soon dissipated when I noticed I was the only one who used a glue gun on her quilts.

In the first 30 minutes I manage to volunteer for something. Try as I might, I cannot change the person I am. If I am investing my time, I am investing myself. Jump in with both feet, hold your breath till you bob back to the top and give it what you got. 

I know there are more potential members in our region. I know the more diversity there is in a group, the better it is for everyone. I know now that there is an amazing group of fibre folk in Atlantic Canada looking to broaden their circle and ready to welcome you as they welcomed me. SAQA Atlantic wants to be more active, more publicly evident. Yesterday we heard plans begin for a show, a retreat, an exciting travelling trunk show that could come to your area! (ask me how! I now those people now!)

Reach out and ask me if you want to know more. I will find the answer and share it with you. That way we will all benefit.

SAQA Atlantic. You excite me. 


  1. I am so glad you got to see all the CQA shows! The SAQA juried show was on display at The Mary Black Gallery at the Pier - it was amazing! And was the real reason I sought out joining this group!

  2. Ah, Holly! You should be joining, too! The majority of the Atlantic members are from NS but there is a drive to encourage new members. I would love to see more art fibre folk from NB involved, as would the rest of the group! The is a fall retreat in the works and a juried show being planned. Right now you can join with a 10% discount......Perhaps if we had more NB members we could work to host an activity?? I think you would really enjoy the inspiration and connections.

  3. Sounds like great fun Jennifer. Perhaps I can join when we move back...

  4. You should definitely check out SAQA - but, you know, there may be a lot of benefits to joining now considering you are probably in the hotbed of the American SAQA.

  5. Jennifer, how does one join? Is it the general application got SAQA?

  6. Morning Holly!

    I think you should join! And SAQA Atlantic has a retreat planned for this fall, so you are joining at a great time!

    To join, go to http://www.saqa.com/ and register there. There is a 10% discount available - which I didn’t know about until after I paid.... but someone else might as well benefit even if I didn’t! Look here for the code - https://www.saqa.com/membershipiam.php

    Use my name as a reason for joining, if you don’t mind. It is not for the possibility of prizes, but a way to track how we are building our local membership. Once you join you will get all kinds of great info emailed regularly, a quarterly journal and you will hear from the regional rep, Chris.

    Let me know if I can help any other way,