Today I offer you some food of thought. Teresa Duryea Wong is an author and a quilter and has a great blog called thirdfloorquilts. Last year she wrote a blogpost about quilt shows and the rule that you can not enter a quilt when it has already been shown on a blog, a website or in any other media.
As I find this article and her arguments very interesting I asked her to let me publish this post here for you all to read. She agreed and here it is. Thank you Teresa!
There’s a giant hole in my blog and my so-called ‘gallery’ page. My best art quilt is nowhere to be seen.
That’s because I entered it into a competition for the Houston International Quilt Festival and by some miracle, it was accepted. Woohoo! So excited, and truly honored to have been chosen.
But the rules in the “Call for Entries” explicitly state that you cannot enter if the finished quilt has been shown on blogs, websites, articles, etc. prior to the show’s opening. The Houston event is not alone – most quilt competitions work this way.
In a world where we post selfies every other moment, and a in world with a plethora of bloggers, grammers, pinners and twitter addicts… why all the secrecy?
Here’s the world we live in…. See me with my dinner? See me with my dog? You like my picture? Oh, I like that you like my picture! See what I made today? Wanna comment? Oh, I love comments!
I totally understand that quilt exhibit organizers want an element of surprise and freshness to their shows. And this is legit. I get what you’re thinking, but I think your thinking is old school.
Lots of artists and makers today need and want to document and share their creations. For some of us, this is as much an innate part of how we work today as is picking up a needle and thread.
And this issue is not just about the needs and wants of the makers versus the organizers. Its actually a much bigger question that centers on the expectations of the viewer… and the ways in which we think, communicate and process images these days.
Are we fighting a new war with an old strategy?
The war in this case being the hyper-connected, online, visual world in which we live… and reconciling that world with being stuck in old school ways of communicating.
Here’s a case in point. Let’s start at the most famous, most obvious example in the Western art world – the Mona Lisa. Why do people go see it? Why is the line 500 feet long, every day, every year, year after year?
To say you can see this image online is kinda, well … duh! You can see it everywhere, at almost any second of the day. But people realize that you can’t trade these obscure impressions for the tangible experience of seeing the real thing. So they put the Mona Lisa on every Paris must-see itinerary.
Other art museum exhibitions show the same paintings we’ve been looking at, reading about, and studying for 200 years on view, and we line up around the block to see them in person. Why is that? Clearly, it’s because you see it in a book, on a website, on a poster, in a magazine, where ever… and you want more! You want to see the real thing!
So, if you see a quilt online, doesn’t the same logic apply? Don’t you want to see the real thing? Don’t you want to touch it? To put your face up close to it? See the stitches? See the construction? See how big or how small it is? Feel its vibe? Picture the maker working tirelessly on it? You can’t get all these things from seeing a picture online or in print. But these images can make you want to see the thing! In many cases, these images can make you care!
Many, many studies prove that repetition breeds familiarity. That’s why advertisers show the same ads over and over again. That’s why we listen to the same songs over and over. Think about it… the first time you hear a song, you are probably ambivalent. You need time. You need repetition, you need an experience that connects you to that particular song. You need a moment.
Art works the same way. Your first glace is not likely your most memorable.
Am I alone here?
Another case in point. Couple weeks ago, I blogged about the art of the amazing Susan Lenz. I wrote in that post that I’ve only seen a couple of her pieces of art in person. Nothing would thrill me more than seeing ALL of them in person. Susan’s work is something I discovered online… if there was no blog, no social media presence, no website… for me, there’d be no interest because it is doubtful I would have known about her.
I truly believe that an online or in print impression helps BUILD interest in a work of art, not DETRACT interest!
Why do quilt competition organizers think the opposite? Why do organizers struggle so hard for publicity in the “old world media” of newspapers, magazines, etc, when the blogger – who is the new citizen journalist – is right there, ready to spread the word? Why do we quiet these voices when we should enable them?
I hate whiners. I love solutions.
Here’s one solution.Give bloggers a button to post on their blog or website or store that says: “Hey, I’m a winner. Come see my quilt here!” Have the button link back to your web, or blog, or board… whatever. Get lots of people to contribute to it and spread the images. Hope that they go viral. Free the voices! Empower those who care most to promote and share… and tweet and pin…
Empower the bloggers and the grammers to do their thing, to sing from the mountain tops!
Here another idea. Let’s do an experiment. Let’s take an online festival – like Amy’s Creative Side, for example, who runs one of the biggest online quilt festivals (slash competitions) – and let’s say that we take those quilts and hang them in a real, brick and mortar space. Would you come see them?
If you’ve seen these quilts already on your favorite blogs, and you voted for them in an online festival, would you still want to see them in person? My guess is yes! I know I’d love to see them. That’s why I look at them online… because most of them are good, some are awesome. It is because I am familiar with them that I care about them.
Are we fighting a new war with old strategies? I’d love your thoughts!
My disclaimer: I recognize that this post might offend some organizations, and they might think I missed the point. I don’t intend to offend. I’d love to hear all points of view. This is how I feel. What do you think?