This is about the study group. And before I get stuck in, (or you get stuck in reading,) I have to stress I don't know which way I'm going, because the group has not even met. With that in mind...
Development: Jo, Pat and I invited three others. We three have ideas/directions we want the group to take, but shall discuss/decide together when the whole group meets; we have yet one other artist we want to invite.
I met one of the three on Friday for the first time, don't know the other two well, though I do know the one remaining. I'm sorry I'm so cryptic, but I'm not sure how much I should disclose at this stage without others' knowledge. But that's inconsequential to my problem.
Pros: Being in discussion with and working along textile artists of esteem, (some locally but at least one having shown in as far away as Dunedin and Sweden,) is no doubt a great learning opportunity for me. They will, as the saying goes, make me "push the envelope", "stretch the boundaries", "think outside of the box," and all that.
Cons: It goes against my beliefs to belong to a group that is by invitation only, let alone be one of the instigators. It really pains me, but I agree this is important for the quality of our experience.
This second is the more dire problem. The original Textile Lunches started right after the first Changing Threads exhibition opened, because they violated their own brief, (partially posted here,) in their selection. This discrepancy was seen in their second exhibition as well, which I helped install and was privy to the reasons for some of the inclusion.
I wanted to know how woven cloths can be shown in the textile art context; how I can show cloth without prostituting my creativity/principals because adulterating the woven cloth, to me, is pandering to the fashion of the day, fashion that welcomes "textile art" but devalues the art-ness of weaving. I also wanted to know what selectors honestly looked for, as opposed to where they said they wanted the entrants to aim, as one of the Textile Lunchers were heavily involved in the first year's selection. I felt I, too, could have just woven something, take fab pics, and entered it.
It's easy to forgive Changing Threads now; this is what I meant by this third skein/spool/strand/exhibition being so much better, because the selection made clear what the exhibition looked, they selected what they asked for in the brief, and the abundance of worthy entries show textile artists are getting it and responding. (I need to dig out my notebooks, but the wording in this year's brief may have changed slightly. No, I didn't study it word for word this year.)
In entering discussions with Pat and Jo, I must have forgotten this was my starting point for a study group.
Pat weaves, though I think her primary artistic expression is through tapestry weaving. The others are "textile artists", their techniques include sewing, patchwork, quilting, felting, dyeing, embroidery, perhaps knitting, beading, and other embellishments; you could say they make sculptures out of fiber; one says she makes whatever she wants and her current material/techniques happen to be fiber. Put crudely, their techniques allow picture-making in ways mine doesn't.
Starting to get the picture? I am loyal to weaving, to making cloth. Though I may dabble in other techniques, though you may rightly accuse me of disliking without giving it a go, staying within the confines of weaving is a point I am unwilling to compromise.
Being among "textile artists", (and I don't know how many of them now the mechanism of weaving,) I worry I will be told to "push/stretch/think" beyond the confines of the warp/weft structure, because will only resist as I have not found a way to include "concepts" into weaving in ways that appear fashionable today.
I've been thinking of an appropriate euphemism and the best I came up with is I'm a long-distance runner, and they, dancers; we try to excel in our respective fields, but currently dance is in. Does this mean I'm asking to run around the stage while they dance?
From my point of view, the group's raisen d'etre has changed. I don't mind the control of the group going to someone else; in fact it will free me to think more about my "making". Yet I don't want to be included only because I was one of the instigators; I don't want to be seen to be pulling the leg of the group because the current fashion undervalues weaving, But if the last two and a half years is anything to go by, I'm not sure if I will find a solution. And I don't have the stomach to stay if I'm going to feel miserable or weaving belittled.
As I said at the start, the group has not even met once, and though I'm willing to give it a go, my foreboding is palpable. I foresee great conflict either within me or in the group, and for now it sucks.