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Visit to Quilt Surface Design Symposium posted: 10/6/2003
by Dori Hawks Printable Page
Category: Reviews Method: All Series: On the Road
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Quilt Surface Design Symposium
Columbus, Ohio
June, 2003

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 potential!"

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 Ohio.

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

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