Now, for an addendum to my initial post on Textile Ternions by Diana Guenther!
First, the most important update is that the exhibit is still hanging! From what I heard, it will hang until around March 12, so if you want to see it check with Sandy Spring Museum and then head on out!
Now, to the main point of this post (and where I learned the exhibit was still hanging): on February 13, Diana Guenther gave the monthly lecture for the Potomac Fiber Arts Guild. The room was delightfully overfull with all the interested people. She spoke on the entire process of the grant, including creating her proposal, taking workshops, studying in the museum, creating and installing her pieces, and writing her grant-specific blog.
Since I had followed Diana’s project from (roughly) the beginning, I was excited to finally hear about it all at once! I was particularly interested in her materials, as surface design is one fiber art puddle I’ve yet to step in (I mean, I’ve still definitely done more than just get my feet wet in fiber arts — I’m absolutely soaking!). I also enjoyed her honest and entertaining stories about hurdles and triumphs during the grant. While I’d heard many of these in passing from Diana, butwas nice to hear it all gathered into one talk. Some of these hurdles were practical, such as the continuous turnover of archivists at the museum, while some were conceptual and interpersonal, such as negotiating the museum staff’s desires and interests with Diana’s own. Some of the hurdles were simply from trying something new, such as organizing the exhibit’s advertising and opening
However, I was most interested in Diana’s artistic challenges. Watching her journey through the Conant Grant and intentionally conceptualize herself as a working artist has had a significant influence on me in conceiving of myself as a fiber artist, so hearing her trials and triumphs was encouraging. Especially helpful was when she talked about taking workshops in which her teachers kindly but bluntly pointed out areas that needed work. She then discussed how she explored these issues in design groups, illustrating the use of new techniques and methods of thinking with their use in her final pieces.
What was most helpful to me in all of this was Diana’s ability to verbalize her thought process. For example, when discussing the requirements and expectations of an artist, she noted how artists needed to be in dialogue with other artists — to be deliberate with influence and inspiration. I have artists that I am inspired by, but I’d never thought explicitly about their influence on my work. (She also spoke about intention and message in art,which is something I definitely struggle with).
Finally, her discussion of installing her pieces — particularly the physicality of display — answered several questions I’d had about installing pieces: even if the exhibit’s requirements are minimal, you need to be able to visualize and vocalize them.
All in all, it was an insightful and useful talk. Diana said that there’s several blog posts that have yet to be published; I hope it contains some of the information from her talk, as I think it would be of use to many people.
To end on a sillier note, Diana gave my shout-out near the end of her talk, as I kept catching her eye because the day was freezing and I wore my Helm for Vikings.