There are a few things happening lately that inspired my point of view for this conversation. On some of the online forums I belong to there has been lament after lament from teachers who are having classes cancelled due to low enrollment. I don’t usually teach so I don’t have a dog in the hunt and I rarely take quilting type classes or workshops. But I am an artist and I can add my take on this since I would only be interested in a workshop that would help me grow artistically, not stitch up a tote bag.
Many reasons given are over saturation, unskilled teachers, shops and guilds unwilling to pay the going rate, the economy, the modern quilt movement, online class availability although some say those are suffering too. And maybe thrown in is the possibility that students are just plain tired of making tote bags and placemats.
The last thing that happened that made my fingers itch to write this down was clearing out older books and magazines for the thrift shop. I can tell you I have been hard pressed to part with some of the best. Right up there at the top are the 9 year old Quilting Arts magazines when Pokey was still at the helm. Those magazine articles really pushed the envelope and defined art quilting….or the art of quilting to be seen as fine art. There was no concentration on thinking that every Jane and Mary Sue could follow the bouncing ball and create true art. They weren’t How-To project magazines. They were process, inspiration and technique magazines.The best of the best in the industry wrote articles, defined terminology and made you want to see more. A tiny portion of the readers turned into some of the best themselves because of their hunger to understand this way of turning needle arts into an art form.
And then I think many of the top name teachers sort of got the Quilting Queen Bee syndrome and stopped growing and making not only their classes but their work exciting and inspirational. Who wants to take a workshop from someone who is so full of their own self importance that they don’t notice their students? After all, aren’t the students the bottom line most important part of the equation? Successful students equate to successful teachers, hands down.
Successful artists take workshops and never stop learning and exploring their chosen field. Crafters simply move along to the next big thing that they can find the supplies at the local craft store to make.
3 thoughts on “Can we Talk?”
Great post! I took some classes at AQS 2 weeks ago. The longarm class was by a modern quilting “star”. Not only did I know more about doing the technique, the all day class was over in 3 hours! There were only 3 of us in class and she didn’t demo live or spend much time with us as individuals. Total waste of money. The other classes were EQ classes by Barb Black and she was outstanding. She clearly takes her job seriously, knows how to teach and knows the product thoroughly. The problem is that you don’t know which of those you are going to get when you sign up.
Thanks Vicki! Nearly 20 years ago on my first AQS trip I took one of those classes where I knew more than the teacher. It was embarrassing since most of the class soon moved over to see my technique, I was using washable glue stick before it was acceptable or published. I left for lunch and didn’t return.
I used to anticipate the arrival of my Quilting Arts and Cloth, Paper Scissors magazines. Now, I don’t even subscribe anymore. Too much “copy me” articles. But I suspect I , along with many others, simply became oversaturated with demonstrations of a zillion and one techniques. That was, perhaps, the first stage of my fiber art development and now I’ve just moved on. I’m more interested in what I’m doing and what a few others are doing and focusing in on developing my own work. I seek out instruction from those I feel that I can learn from and have been pleased with the caliber of these teachers. Research any teachers who you’re considering taking classes with and you’ll probably have a better experience. It’s harder to do on the local level where classes are often cancelled due to unenrollment, but online classes are still a good bet with some excellent teachers.
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