We hope that the videos, articles, and resources in this SAQA Seminar will help as you chart the next steps in your professional journey. Goals, interests, and skills can vary tremendously so each artist’s path of professional development will be unique. Happily, there are lots of opportunities within SAQA to learn, practice, be supported, and be encouraged as you explore professional possibilities. This article summarizes those programs and opportunities available as benefits of SAQA membership.
There are many opportunities to start exhibiting your work within SAQA, from Local Connection and Regional exhibitions to SAQA Global Exhibitions. While testing the exhibition waters you’ll also be helping SAQA promote the art quilt at art museums, quilt shows, international expositions, and regional venues. A wide range of engaging themes is selected each year so there are opportunities to include a variety of artwork. For listings of calls for entry as well as supporting information go to the SAQA Exhibitions page.
SAQA’s one-to-one Mentorship Program can match you with an experienced member volunteer to work with you to address specific goals, professional and/or artistic. This process can help at every stage of the journey - from the first steps in exploring your art to the advanced stages of creating your professional game plan. The Mentorship Coordinator will chat with you to refine what you want and need from the mentorship; information about the program is on the Mentorship page. Want to practice your own mentoring skills and share what you’ve learned? We’re always looking for new mentors!
Juried Artist Membership
A great way to prepare for being a practicing professional is to put together a body of work and present it for peer review for SAQA’s Juried Artist Member program. Deb Cashatt and Dorothy Raymond, current program coordinators, discuss the process and program benefits in detail in their SAQA Seminar Unit 6 video. Mentorship specific to this program is available to assist you through the process as you create a gallery-ready presentation of your art and its supporting writings. Juried Artist Members’ art is the face of the SAQA website and SAQA publications. There are special events and benefits to engage and connect the Juried Artist Community. Interested? Check out the Juried Artist Member page or contact the coordinators.
The SAQA website is the primary repository of everything SAQA: articles, videos, program descriptions, calls for entry, and much more -- an amazing treasure trove of cumulative information about all things related to the art quilt. Consider using it as the starting point for developing your personal professional development plan. The revamped site, totally redesigned for ease of access and strong search capabilities, will be available online soon.
The SAQA Journal is our in-house publication, dedicated to the development of our members as well as being a vehicle for exhibiting our work. You’ll find articles on professional development and related issues as well as insightful features about individual artists and groups of artists. Looking for sample artists’ statements? They come to you each month either in the mail, or, if you choose, via email, in the member gallery section. You’ll have noticed that many of the resources in this SAQA seminar came from previous SAQA Journals. A searchable index is available of all Journals for your own research.
Have an interesting topic or idea to share and want to practice writing about it? The Journal is always looking for fresh, relevant stories that will engage our membership. Contact the editor here with ideas; find detailed submission guidelines here.
Art Quilt Quarterly
Art Quilt Quarterly is directed towards the external art quilt audience but it’s also is a great resource, with inspirational interviews with artists and arts professionals as well as information on navigating a creative career. SAQA members can subscribe at a discounted rate. It can also be bought at Barnes and Noble. Check out the submission guidelines if you have ideas for articles or are interested in writing for AQQ; contact the editor here.
Growth, professional and otherwise, often comes from personal interactions and relationships. The annual SAQA conference is an ideal opportunity to establish and strengthen those relationships in the company of ~200 people engaged with the art quilt world. There are presentations and break-out sessions specifically focused on professional development as well as informal networking opportunities. The venue changes each year; Toronto, Canada in 2020, St. Petersburg, Florida in ’21, and Tucson, Arizona in ‘22.
Some of the conference presenters are drawn from SAQA membership, offering a chance to practice public speaking in a supportive, positive atmosphere. Calls for proposals to present come out about a year in advance. Check the SAQA website for more information.
Local Connections/ Special Interest Groups
SAQA supports the creation of geography-based physical meeting groups and subject-based online art quilt groups through Local Connections and Special Interest Groups, respectively. Any member or group of members can create a Local Connection or a Special Interest Group with a focus on an art quilt related topic, including any aspect of professional development. There are currently several Local Connections focused on critique as well as “Art Quilt Design on a Mid/Longarm Machine” and “Exploring Contemporary Art” Special Interest Groups. Groups must be open to any SAQA member, beyond that there are no structural restrictions. Contact your Regional Rep for information about creating a Local Connections Group (or the Rep Coordinator if you don’t have a Regional Rep) or to find if there’s an existing group that might be a good fit for you. Interested in current or potential Special Interest Groups? Drop an email to the SIG coordinator.
SAQA’s Facebook page is an active platform for artistic and professional discussion. While it’s recognized and respected that not everyone chooses to participate in social media, it is a low energy barrier way to interact with people that might not be otherwise accessible. Members are tremendously generous in answering questions, sharing resources and tips, and exhibiting their art. The group is named SAQA - Members Only and open to members only.
Other programs have essential Facebook presences. The “Art Quilt Design on a Mid/Longarm Machine” and “Exploring Contemporary Art” Special Interest Groups each have private groups that serve as information repositories and communications exchanges. SAQA-Artique, an online interactive forum for artistic critique and feedback, has successfully migrated to Facebook. Many regions also have their own private Facebook groups.
You may have noticed that a definition of “professional development” was not provided within SAQA Seminar: Your Professional Toolkit. According to Wikipedia, it is:
“…learning to earn or maintain professional credentials such as academic degrees to formal coursework, attending conferences, and informal learning opportunities situated in practice. It has been described as intensive and collaborative, ideally incorporating an evaluative stage. There are a variety of approaches to professional development, including consultation, coaching, communities of practice, lesson study, mentoring, reflective supervision and technical assistance.”
By this definition, SAQA’s programs offer substantial opportunities for professional development. While your journey may be yours alone, it can be done with valuable support and in the company of like-minded people.