Quilt Surface Design Symposium
One of the main reasons for my trip to Columbus, Ohio
in the summer of 2003 was to visit the Quilt Surface Design Symposium (QSDS). It
is a two week long event, including in depth workshops, exhibits, contests, specialty
vendors and a total immersion into quilt surface design is considered the crème de la
crème art quilt graduate school. This is indeed not your normal quilt workshop where
you learn to use your rotary cutter and make a traditional quilt. This year's faculty
(14 instructors) included such quilting and surface design greats such as David Walker,
Michael James, Jane Dunnewold, Sue Benner, and Caryl Bryer Fallert.
What began in 1990 founded by Nancy Crow and Linda Fowler
as a modest event with lots of enthusiasm has turned into a major influence in the
Art Quilt world, and is open to anyone wishing to "challenge the boundaries between
what is considered craft and fine art." The Symposium "brings people together in
a sharing environment to work intensely with some of the best teachers available.
This is the meeting place to connect with other innovative quilt artists from all
over the world. Exchange ideas, gain new perspectives, and stretch your creative
I found that moving through the classrooms and viewing
the artists at work, was a humbling experience. Just having that much talent all
in one place was amazing, and that includes the instructors and the students! Some
of the students are people you would recognize in the Art Quilt world. Insert Carol
Taylor Pic I met students from all across America and around the world. And fell in
love with some work by Jenny Evelyn of Australia who was having a wonderful time in
David Walker's class.
QSDS chooses accomplished teachers and classes of all
levels: beginners, intermediate and advanced students. There is definitely a place
for the entry-level artist. Classes are within three categories: Design, Sewing
Techniques, and Surface Design. This year there were 380 participants. Not were
all there at the same time. The classes run for a week, and there are also special
sessions on two weekends. About 10% of the students stay for the entire two weeks
and take two different weeklong classes and the special session classes.
There are special tours running several times to the many
quilt exhibit venues around the Columbus, Ohio area. There were at least 17 quilt
exhibits and events going on during my stay in the Columbus area. I made it to 8
and felt like I had accomplished much and enjoyed myself tremendously! I wondered
why Columbus seems to be such a "hot bed" of quilting and I know that QSDS, Nancy
Crow and Linda Fowler had much to do with all the events that are happening in Central
Linda Fowler and Tracy Stitzlein are the current partners
in the QSDS venture. Besides putting on the event, there are scholarships raised by
donations to the QSDS of Columbus for education, exhibitions and lectures for events
throughout the year. A Mini Quilt Auction is held each year at Symposium to help
raise money for the scholarships. Eleven scholarships funded by the QSDS foundation,
some full and some partial, were given out this year.
Every other year there is a special exhibit of 3-5 works each of invited artists
held at the Cultural Arts Center in downtown Columbus held in conjunction with QSDS.
This is the one I viewed, but had the challenge of finding the Arts Center amongst
construction, one-way streets and a festival all going on at the same time. This was
a tremendous venue for some very large pieces of work by some of my favorite quilt
artists. There is a past participants juried competition called The Quilted Surface.
The QSDS faculty had an exhibit called Small Art Quilts held at the Fifth Avenue
Galleries that I visited. It was enjoyable to see what a large impact a small quilt
can make. In France there was an exhibit going on in conjunction with QSDS. I was
sorry my rented PT Cruiser could not take me that far.
Nancy Crow and Linda Fowler have conducted tours to textiles
sites in other countries. One was to Guatemala, and next year the trip will be to France
and will include visits to Patchwork Europa, Lyon and the silk factories and DMC Thread
factory, and then on to Paris to see that treasure trove of art.
It has always been my dream to participate in a Symposium,
but going to visit was the next best thing to really being there in the classes.
What an inspiring treat it was and I do hope to go back someday to be a student.
©2003 Dori Hawks