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Brief SAQA Conference/ Quilt National Recap

24 May 2009

I recently returned from the annual SAQA conference that took place in Athens, Ohio on the Ohio University campus, and what an incredible time! For those who are unfamiliar with SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates), it is the non-profit organization to belong to if you are an art quilter (or aspire to be an art quilter). I am honored to be a Board member of SAQA, and strongly encourage you to join if you aren’t already a member.

 Every year SAQA holds a conference that is geared towards art quilters who want to hone their marketing skills, further their professional development (such as web marketing, pricing of quilts, etc.), critique works-in-progress, share successes, and get to know one another better. There is also a pre-conference component where you can partake in intensive, hands-on workshops on art quilting techniques.

 Quilt National 2009 debuted simultaneously at the Dairy Barn and the 87 quilts chosen for this year’s exhibit were exquisite. This was the 30th anniversary of Quilt National, a biennial juried show and traveling exhibit and it is considered one of the most prestigious contemporary quilt exhibits in the world.

An unusual and unexpected quilt entry. Below is a picture of Susan Else with her colorful, quilted skeleton, “Nothing to Fear.”

Sing along with me now:  The hip bone's connected to the....leg bone...



My friend and fellow SAQA board member, Lind Colsh poses with her Quilt National quilt, “Twisting the Plot.”

 Kathy York's three-dimensional entry, "Little Fish in a Big City" certainly drew crowds. (You may remember her "Little Fishes" quilt that appeared in Quilting Arts a couple of years ago.) Here's a detail shot of her Quilt National entry:

Quilters try for years (if not decades) to get into this show, and that was why it was so remarkable and exciting to see fresh faces (such as Liz DeBellis, a 24-year-old elementary school art teacher) in this year’s show. Below is a picture of her quilt in the new Quilt National 2009 book (published by Lark).


I sat with Liz and her family at the Quilt National/SAQA banquet, and got to ask her a few questions:

The next annual SAQA conference will be co-facilitated with the Surface Design Association and take place in San Francisco in March 2010. My colleague, Marci McDade, editor of Fiberarts will be speaking, and you wont want to miss it! More information on this conference forthcoming.


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kakiyork wrote
on 24 May 2009 11:58 AM

Hi Pokey!

THANKS for posting a photo of my quilt on your blog!  I thought you might like to know that right after the banquet I got lost trying to find my hotel!  

kathy york

on 24 May 2009 4:49 PM

Hey now I really am famous!  Thanks for mentioning me in your blog, and it was great meeting!

Liz DeBellis

on 24 May 2009 10:01 PM

Thanks for the recap. That was really interesting.  Picts are worth a thousand words.  Way to go Liz, elementary school teachers ROCK!!!  Happy summer - 8 more full school days + 1 hour to go for me!


lindacolsh wrote
on 25 May 2009 4:33 PM

<blush> thanks, Pokey--you shot a better photo than I did of my piece.  What a shame that the ghost of my grandmother was there standing in front of my work <gg>.  Seriously, I cannot WAIT to attend the SF Conference next March and see everyone again and attend more workshops and panel discussions and keynote speeches as good as those we just experienced in OH.  I was blown away by the work in QN too and soooo honored to be in such company.  I am thrilled too that my friends Cathy Kleeman and Nelda Warkentin both have their QN artworks sold right off the bat--Congratulations to both of you if you're reading.  Kathy York, your piece is fabulous and so interesting!  


Muppin wrote
on 25 May 2009 6:00 PM

Wow, congrats to all Quilt National entrants who got accepted! Their work is so inspiring....

Pokey wrote
on 26 May 2009 7:29 AM


It was really good seeing you this past weekend! And I owe you for grabbing my black cardigan from the table for me! Oh...and I am so glad I wasn't the only one who got lost! ;-)

Karoda wrote
on 26 May 2009 3:19 PM

Susan Else's skeleton is wildly FUNNY! LOVE IT!

Jamie Fingal wrote
on 27 May 2009 2:39 PM

It is very fun to see pictures from QN of the artists, as well as, the art quilts.  I could not go to the SAQA Conference this year, but it's on my calendar for 2010 in San Francisco, California.  

ckleeman wrote
on 27 May 2009 6:17 PM

We got lost getting to our hotel, too. Part of the problem is that Rt 50 East and Rt 33 West are the same road heading in the same direction! This is my first Quilt National and it was everything I had hoped for. I just hope it's not my only!

Cathy Kleeman

on 28 May 2009 1:20 PM

Hi Pokey,

How do I get a back issue of the Spring 2009 magazine???  Pleasae let meknow.  Thank You, Janet English

MellyT wrote
on 28 May 2009 5:19 PM

Pokey! Thank you. I have been missing your posts and this one is great. Thanks

MicheleM@9 wrote
on 29 May 2009 12:52 PM

Hi Pokey,


So impressed with all of these incredible works of art.

thanks for sharing. Susan's skeleton is.. well... i'm just speechless.. love it!!!


Jane LaFazio wrote
on 30 May 2009 7:35 AM

Wow, isn't Liz a cutie! and now, a soon to be QA TV star and interview subject for Quilting Arts! Good for her!

cfmilton wrote
on 30 May 2009 3:30 PM

Hi Pokey,

It was great to meet you at Quilt National.  I met so many wonderful quilt artists and the show was so exciting.  I was thrilled to be a first time exhibitor and the Dairy Barn made everyone feel like a rock star!  Thank you for your inspirational magazine and for featuring the most cutting edge artists and techniques.

Christine Milton

smidgen wrote
on 31 May 2009 6:56 AM

I love the work! It is great to see a variety of colors! I especially love the quilted skeleton! So FUN!

daren2 wrote
on 1 Jun 2009 4:26 AM

Hi Pokey, it was great meeting you at QN. Thanks for posting Susan's entry. You got all the detail. I was inspired after the conference- marketing, dyeing, writing...Can't wait for San Fran. Martha asked me to be a rep!!


slkrueg wrote
on 1 Jun 2009 10:22 AM

Hi, Pokey -

It was thrill-a-minute action at my first Quilt National opening reception, the art quilt world's equivalent of the Academy Awards.  I anticipated meeting a few artists, but wasn't expecting such an overwhelming barrage of  quilts, quilters and supporters. Part of the excitement was meeting you in person and to hear you enjoyed Swallowing Roses!

Susan Krueger

Carole31 wrote
on 2 Jun 2009 9:28 AM

I can only IMAGINE what an event like this might be like.

I truly enjoy the photos and your dialogue.

Thank you... and I have missed your posts.