I was honored to be invited to dinner at the home of Mary McCoffey, my curator from my Macy’s art instillation earlier this year. It was a festive event and the food was wonderful: chicken, Brussels sprouts (one of my personal favorites!), mashed potatoes, gravy, bread and mango sorbet for dessert.
After my friends at Quilt Fest Oasis saw the art quilt I made for the Macy’s show, they suggested that I might want to look into children’s book publishing because there were some art quilters we knew who were making a living both writing and creating art quilts as illustrations for children’s books. I took their suggestion to heart.
People flowed in from out of state for Mary’s dinner, just like they did for the Macy’s show. As Chicagoans, we referred them to the Art Institute of Chicago and they made recommendations to me for an upcoming trip I was trying to take to New York for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators writers’ conference (SCBWI). “Make sure you get there a day early,” Mary’s out of state company told me. “There is an art quilt museum in the Fashion District you need to see.”
Conversation inevitably turned to art: what it is, what it isn’t and, because creative expression is so individualized, it is difficult to place lines of demarcation, such as “high art” and “low art” on anything.
“Just because a piece of art is not something you would put on your wall, listen to or read yourself, doesn’t mean it isn’t art,” Mary said. She also said something else: “When I curated the Macy’s art instillation earlier this year, I was gathering my artists together. One of them said, ‘I will agree to do the show only if you agree to write and make some visual art yourself. You need to know what this is like.’ So I took on the challenge. I went to Lil Street and took a painting class. And let me tell you, it was the most frustrating and rewarding experience ever. So when I hear people say, ‘Oh that’s not art,’ I now say, ‘Have you picked up a paint brush and tried this for yourself?’”
It made my day!