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FRIENDS

@

FESTIVAL

Table

OF CONTENTS

Silk Experience

Q&A: Susanne Miller Jones

Photo Cutlines:

1. Tom and Alexei Share a Tube of Vodka by Luana Rubin

2. Godspeed! July 16, 1969 Apollo 11 Liftoff by Denise Currier

3. Last Quarter Moon by Ricki Selva

4. Descartes Highlands, Apollo 16 by Marijke van Welzen

5. Leaving Home: Launch of the Apollo 18 by Tanya Brown

6. Captain James Arthur "Jim" Lovell, Jr. by Ellen Icochea and Jayne Gaskins

7. Apollo 6 by Linda Syverson Guild

8. Low Tide by Barbara Dove

 

Among the exhibits making their debut at International Quilt Festival in Houston this year is one inspired by the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 spaceflight and man’s first step onto the moon.

Whether you remembering watching this “giant leap for mankind” on television, or learned of its importance through textbooks, you, no doubt, understand the significance of the first moon landing to both our country’s history and the advancement of space exploration.

Susanne Miller JonesFor quilt artist Susanne Miller Jones, the anniversary of this historic milestone seemed a perfect occasion to celebrate in the form of a quilt exhibit. So, last year, Jones put out a call to other fiber artists seeking quilts that honor the space program, the Apollo missions, and space exploration. The resulting exhibit features an impressive range of quilts from artists in eight different countries.

For this edition of Friends@Festival, we spoke with Jones about the exhibit, “Fly Me to the Moon.”

Friends@Festival: First, please tell us a bit about yourself.

Jones: Needles, thread, and fabric have been in my hands most of my life. My grandmother taught me to sew when I was about five. In 2010, in preparation for retirement from teaching elementary school, I began to quilt. I thought that I would be a traditional quilter, and was surprised and delighted to discover my inner fiber artist.

Aside from curating the “Fly Me to the Moon” exhibit, I also recently issued a call for entries for “HERstory: A Celebration of Strong Women.” So far, there are 139 artists honoring about 200 groundbreaking women. It’s going to be fabulous too!

Friends@Festival: And how did the idea for the “Fly Me to the Moon” exhibit materialize?2

Jones: I was watching the news, and they were doing a retrospective about Apollo 11 and the moonwalk in celebration of its 45th anniversary. I commented to my husband that I thought that a collection of quilts honoring the 50th anniversary would make a wonderful exhibit. I sat down and wrote out a proposal. It only took about 30 minutes and I had the whole exhibit planned. I put out the call in February of 2015, and was overwhelmed by
the response.

Friends@Festival: The exhibit celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first moonwalk, which is actually in 2019. What was the reason behind organizing this exhibit several years in advance of the anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing? And will the exhibit continue to travel through 2019?

Jones: I am working on a book about the collection. In order to get the quilts made and the book written by my deadline, I needed to begin the process early.

The exhibit will travel through 2019. It will premiere at Quilt Festival in Houston this year. Next year, it will be at many of the other major quilt shows. In 2018, it will travel internationally. In 2019, it is my plan for it to be in museums, galleries, and facilities that honor the space program. The exhibit schedule is available at my website HERE.

Friends@Festival: In looking through the quilts included in this exhibit, I was struck by the diversity in designs and techniques used, despite the common theme. What were the requirements
for submissions?4

Jones: The requirement for submission was that the size of the quilt had to be 18" wide x 30" long, portrait orientation. All quilts had to be original designs. Initially, I asked that photos and words not be used, but I learned that I cannot put limitations on artists. Art quilters or fiber artists use such a wide variety of techniques. We have wholecloth painted quilts, pieced traditional quilts, abstract pieces, and realistic pictorial pieces that look like photographs. One artist stitched her way to the moon
—one stitch for every
ten miles.

Our theme was always the same, but the execution of it was extremely varied. I was delighted by the diverse nature of the submissions, and thrilled that they will hang together so beautifully. I asked for pieces representing all of the Apollo astronauts and missions, the cool tools of the space program, moon images, romantic pieces, idioms, moon songs, and the moon as it is used in pop culture. The imaginations of the artists worked overtime.

Friends@Festival: The exhibit includes work from artists in eight different countries. Were you surprised to receive an international response to this call for entry? And what do you feel that says about the universality of the history of
space exploration?
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Jones: Surprised isn't the word to describe how I felt when I got my first international artist…I was over the moon! The internet made it possible to share the call with everyone. I put it out on social media and the call took on a life of its own. Most of the “Fly Me to the Moon” artists reside in the US, but we also have artists who live in Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain. I didn't know most of the artists when we started out, but we have built a community on Facebook.

Since I wanted to ensure that all of the astronauts and missions were represented, the artists registered with me before making their quilts. So I set up a Facebook group where they could share their progress, their struggles, and where they could encourage each other. By the time the quilts were submitted for jurying, we felt like we knew each other. When the collection debuts in Houston, there will be a group of us
there celebrating.

Friends@Festival: Finally, I understand that you will be utilizing a service called Guide by Cell for the exhibit at Quilt Festival in Houston. Can you tell our readers more about this service and what it offers for attendees/viewers?

Jones: I am on the organizational committee for Sacred Threads and we used Guide by Cell at our 2015 show. It offers visitors to the exhibit the chance to hear the artist explain something extra about their piece. Artists talk about their inspiration, the technique they used, or some background that adds another layer of depth to the viewing experience. Visitors will dial a number on their own cell phone and then enter the code at the bottom of the sign next to the quilt. The artist's 90-second recording will play. When the viewer is ready, they can enter the code for the next quilt. I think it adds a lot to the visitor's experience.

Special thanks to "Fly Me to the Moon"
exhibit sponsor
eQuilter.com

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© 2016. A publication of Quintessential Quilt Media. No portion may be reproduced without the expressed written consent of Quilts, Inc.