Take Your Art Quilting Public Next Year

Whether or not you are celebrating Christmas, I hope you will think about setting aside some timetoday or in the New Yearto think about one special gift you give to yourself: your commitment to creativity and art quilting. Is 2013 the year you will to bring your quilt art to a wider audience?

farmlands landscape quilt by vivika hansen denegre
'Farmlands' landscape quilt hanging in the nursing station hallway at the Smilow Cancer Center in New Haven.

There are many ways to do this, from blogging to opening an online shop to participating in an open studios event. Those venues for exposure are relatively easy to access. Entering one of your pieces in a major show, submitting your work to a gallery, or having your artwork on display in a public placesuch as a library or hospitaltakes more effort, but many artists say it's worth it.

In the February/March 2013 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, fiber artist Jane Dávila offers advice on how to get public art commissions, with input from contemporary quilt artists Joanie San Chirico and Linda Beach.

A couple of years ago I had my own opportunity to create quilt art for a public space, the Intensive Care Unit at the Smilow Cancer Center at Yale-New Haven Medical Center. The hospital's designer attended an open studios event that I was part of and contacted me and several other artists from the event for commissions.

I met with a member of the committee that was making the decision and I was selected to create two pieces. "Farmlands" and "Marsh View" have been permanently mounted in floating frames and hang side by side across from the nursing station in a long hallway. Each measures 96" x 42", is made of hand dyed artisan fabrics, and is heavily quilted with rayon and polyester threads.

marsh view art quilt by vivika hansen denegre
'Marsh View' art quilt.

It was a wonderful creative exercise to work on these pieces, and I learned a lot about what it takes to make art as a living. As Jane writes in her Quilting Arts 'Minding Your Business' piece, "Artists often create site-specific work for newly constructed and renovated public buildings. There is a market for public art, and selling art for public spaces is a way to increase the visibility of your artwork and enhance your income."

Here are some tips from the article on how to find these opportunities:

  • Public commissions vary from private commissions mainly in the submission and proposal process, but there are some similarities. For each type of commission, it is important to have a contract outlining such details as deadlines, budgets, payment schedules, and installation responsibilities to protect both the artist and the organization commissioning the work.
  • To find public art projects in your area, one option is to search the Internet for "public art commissions" plus your state or city. Many states have a statewide arts council that posts listings of public art commissions on their website.
  • Many states also maintain an artist registry where interested parties can search through artists' images to find suitable artists to approach about public art commissions. Check out your state's arts council and add your name and website to their list.
  • Ask a local store owner or office manager if you can install and photograph some of your work in their location. Seeing the work in a business or commercial atmosphere can help a potential client picture your work in their space.

And, if I may add my two cents: be sure to participate in your local open studios events!

For more details and advice on how to pursue public art commissions, plus art quilting techniques, a gallery of 3-D art, and other insights into the contemporary quilting world, see the February/March 2013 issueand be sure you have subscribed to Quilting Arts Magazine. That's a gift you can give to yourself all year long.

Happy Holidays!

P.S. Have you ever created a quilt on commission? What was that like for you? Please share with the community in the space below.

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Art Quilt, Quilting Daily Blog

2 thoughts on “Take Your Art Quilting Public Next Year

  1. Vivika, These pieces are really beautiful. Thank you for sharing them! I love that they are installed in an ICU environment, where they will be viewed by people who need visual soothing.
    Leslie Tucker Jenison

  2. Love the pieces shown it the article!

    I have done commission work and I think it depends on the person commissioning the work. I had the most wonderful clients – They were happy to see a small bit of the art quilt in progress but because they had purchased one of my other pieces they were completely happy to just let me run with the design. I should say that was after meeting in their home, discussing what they wanted and seeing where the work would be hung. I would also suggest being real about the time to complete the work and fee.