Here we are again!
It’s the last week in February and a modern quilt lover would have to have been under a social media rock to miss the news: the sixth annual QuiltCon was a huge success. This year’s show was held in Nashville, with the backdrop of country music and enough torrential rain to encourage all participants to stay inside and immerse themselves in the modern quilt scene.
The Quilts are the Stars
QuiltCon is, after all, a guild show, so the exhibit hall housed the main attraction – quilts, and lots of them! Modern quilts that featured negative space, large swaths of color, intricate piecing, and poignant topical themes were all on display. Special Exhibits featured artistry beyond compare. As with past QuiltCon shows, the over-the-top talent of this group of quilters was not to be missed.
The vendors were also a big draw, with major machine manufacturers set up alongside small independent makers and purveyors of quilting fabrics, books, and treasures. There was something for everyone at this show.
The 2019 Best in show ribbon was awarded for the first time to a group quilt, “Smile” by the Bee Sewcial international group headed by Leanne Chahley of Alberta, Canada. She and fellow Bee members Stephanie Ruyle, Felicity Ronaghan, Kari Vojtechovsky, Melissa Ritchie, Diane Stanley, Marci Debetaz, Debbie Jeske, Karen Foster, and Hillary Goodwin should be very proud of their accomplishment. Their quilt is full of color and improvisational joy.
This year’s judges awarded more than $20,000 in prizes to 44 quilts in 12 categories, from Modern Traditionalism to Minimalism and everything in between. Entering the show is an act of faith: 1,736 quilts were entered, with just under 25% of those entries being accepted. Congratulations to all who entered, those whose work was on display, and the winners!
Some of the quilts that spoke most forcefully to me used text and subtext to tell their stories.
Sam Hunter’s “Why I’m a Feminist” (which also won a 3rd place ribbon for handwork) always had a crowd reading the story printed on the background; Karen Uptis’ quilt, “Some Things are Not Easily Seen: Poverty” earned a Judge’s Choice ribbon and told its story in graphic text.
Jessica Wahl’s “Where Are All The Black Women” carried a message beyond the words: when examined closely, you realize the text is actually shadows of invisible letters cast on a pieced background.
Beyond the Show Floor
There are so many reasons to attend this show that extend beyond seeing the latest modern quilts. Most importantly, the networking with fellow modern quilters can’t be replaced. Lectures from renowned quilters, collectors, and curators pique creativity. Meet-ups with social media friends you only know by IG handles; dinner with new-found friends; classes and sew-ins alongside your quilty heroes; all are priceless opportunities that happen but once a year.
I’ve attended all six QuiltCon events, experiencing the show from different perspectives: as a sponsor, reporter, volunteer (white glove lady and selling tickets), attendee taking classes, and I’ve even submitted a quilt (and earned the right to use the #quiltconreject hashtag). What have I learned? We’re all in this together, and we all have a lot to learn from one another about the depth and breadth of modern quilting.
I’ll be at the seventh QuiltCon next February in Austin, Texas, and hope to see you there, too!
Vivika Hansen DeNegre
Don’t wait until next year to experience the show. Download to official 2019 edition of QuiltCon Magazine today so you can get up close and personal with more than 30 show quilts, read articles about techniques and color theory from QuiltCon instructors, and even try your hand making 11 of the quilts in the juried show. Why wait until next year? QuiltCon 2019 is at your fingertips!