SAQA Threads of Innovation Conference Round Up

SAQA’s 2019 conference Threads of Innovation was wonderful! Over 200 SAQA members gathered in San Jose, California for this annual event from April 25 – 28.

Volunteers helped get the event going by supporting Georgia French, the Special Events Committee Co-Chair, while she handed out welcome packets.

Thursday featured a vendors mall full of fiber goodies.

SAQA JAMs met with their new reps Deb Cashatt and Dorothy Raymond. Cashatt and Raymond encouraged JAMs to contact them with suggestions and ideas via email at The JAMs also enjoyed an informative lecture presented by Louise Allrich. Allrich, who showed fine textiles in her San Francisco gallery for nearly twenty-five years, shared her experiences and knowledge.

SAQA’s JAM Reps Dorothy Raymond and Deb Cashatt

The day ended with a wild and wacky Ice Breaker led by SAQA member Mel Beach.

Friday was full of interesting lectures and break out sessions.  We began the day with a memorable lecture given by Pokey Bolton. It was a great insider look at the history of Quilting Arts Magazine as well as Bolton’s current endeavors.

This was followed by an informative talk about Instagram and growing your audience on social media given by artist Lisa Congdon

Lisa Congdon with her mother SAQA member Gerrie Congdon.

Many conference participants took part in Friday Night Out. This event makes it possible for conference attendees to sign up to dine with other SAQA Members. All restaurants are within walking distance.

It is a great way to make new friends and be a part of our global community.

On Saturday, The Social Justice Sewing Academy panel discussion educated our members  about the work of Sara Trail who founded the organization. Trail and her volunteers work tirelessly to connect marginalized youth with the power of textiles.  They work to engage with youth on a variety of levels by teaching them history, art, and agency.

Participants in the Social Justice Sewing Academy create textile art and quilts that bring attention to issues that are important to their cultures and neighborhoods. To learn how you can be a part of this change, please visit the Social Justice Sewing Academy.

Saturday afternoon was spent exploring galleries and museums. Members had the opportunity to visit the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles. The museum gave us a special look behind the scenes and showed how they store the quilts which are not currently on display. They also shared some tips on proper storage of quilts and fibers to ensure their longevity.

There were several excellent quilt exhibitions on view including the SAQA Global Exhibition H2Oh! and a selection of quilts from the Marbaum Collection.

Conference attendees also toured the SAQA Regional Exhibition Shifting Tides: Convergence in Cloth which was on view at the Works/San Jose Gallery. 

Saturday evening was the SAQA banquet and Spotlight Auction. 170 small artworks created by our members are on their way to new homes. We raised more than $17,000 dollars!

There was birthday cake to celebrate SAQA’s 30th year.

SAQA President Lisa Walton enjoying SAQA’s 30th birthday cake.

Sunday’s lectures began with a truly entertaining and informative panel discussion with the four authors of Art Quilts Unfolding: 50 Years of Innovation –Lisa Ellis, Sandra Sider, Martha Sielman, and Nancy Bavor. 

Between sessions, the room buzzed with conversation.

Our final keynote featured the art and words of Joan Schulze. Schulze shared her most recent artwork which chronicles her husband’s last years. It was a moving testimony to life and death, art and process. Afterwards, attendees enjoyed the opportunity to view two new pieces that Schulze brought to share. 

The final afternoon was spent touring studios. Judith Content, Linda Gass, Stephanie Metz, and Therese May all welcomed SAQA members into their homes and studios.

Artist and SAQA JAM Member Judith Content sharing her studio and ideas with visitors.

We were all sad to part ways. The local San Jose SAQA members and the Special Events Committee did an amazing job of creating a truly memorable conference. We thank them for the countless hours of volunteerism that made this conference possible. 

SAQA Board 2019

Now we can look forward to our next gathering in Toronto, Ontario, Canada–March 19 – 22, 2020. Look for more information on our website and social media. It is our first conference outside the United States!

We are looking for proposals or nominations on topics of interest to our membership, including but not limited to innovative trends in textile art, the business of art, social media marketing, principles of design and composition, getting work into exhibits and galleries, critiques, legal issues, and public speaking. Please submit your proposals by June 1st!

Thank you to everyone who attended this years conference. Can’t wait to see you all in Toronto in 2020!

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