It snowed today in Chicago. I like snow. I like winter. But there isn’t anything wrong with going to California sometimes, you know, just to make sure your sandals are still in good shape.
Lucky for me and any other chilly quilters — modern or otherwise — out there, QuiltCon 2018 is coming! And this year, the most exciting happening of the quilt calendar year will be underway in sunny Pasadena.
Yes, at this exact moment, two weeks from now, the quilts will have been unveiled. All the awards will have been given out, which means we’ll all know who got Best In Show and isn’t that so exciting? Two weeks from now, vendors will be vending; neat classes will have gone down; “sewlebrities” will be soaking their autograph hands; after lots of emails and Instagram posts, internet friends will be hanging out IRL; and many, many, many, many, many, many, many pictures will have been uploaded to many, many, many, many, many, many social media pages.
And I’m excited. Though I don’t make modern quilts, I love them and I love the people who make them. I’m also deeply glad to have emerged as a kind of go-to quilt history geek for the modern set. Put me in, baby. I’m happy as a clam (?) giving historical lectures at QuiltCon; the full houses that greet me seem to indicate folks like what I’m puttin’ down.
The only downside is that I have to top myself every year. For example, two years ago, I debuted “The Great American Quilt Revival: The Reason We’re All Here Right Now.” It went well — too well?? — so last year, I brought the pain with “Standing On the Shoulders of Giants: A Brief History of the American Quilt.” That one was really good. (Well, it was! Ask anyone who’s seen my lectures: I have serious powerpoint game.) And the lectures I debut at QuiltCon go into my repetoire and have a life after the MQG show, but it’s neat to present them for the first time out there with the mod squad.
But I have to tell you … This year in Pasadena, I don’t have a new lecture … I’ve got TWO!
Talk about topping what you did last year. QuiltCon 2019 is happening in Nashville next year; maybe I’ll pull out my guitar.* Anyway, both lectures are in pretty good shape, but this weekend is going to have me hunkering down, smoothing out, and rehearsing. For real, these two lectures (see descriptions below) are literally my best work yet, so that’s one of 9,000 reasons to do QuiltCon 2018.
See you in Cali!
The AIDS Quilt: Comfort, Compassion, and Change
When the first panels of “the AIDS quilt” were sewn together in San Francisco in 1987, the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic had only just begun. At the peak of the crisis in 1995, 319,849 people — mostly young, vibrant men — were dead from complications from AIDS while 200,000 more had were testing positive for the virus. As the death toll grew, so did the quilt. The story of the AIDS Memorial Quilt is the story of a modern plague and exists as evidence of enduring hope for victims and survivors, friends and family. Learn about the beauty of the quilt and an essential, tragic period in our history in this must-see lecture by Mary Fons. Warning: This lecture contains graphic content.
*Note: I curated an exhibit of panels from the NAMES Project quilt which will be on display during the show this year.
The Modern Quilt: Roots & Frontiers
The modern quilt was born in the first decade of the 21st century — but it didn’t hatch out of an egg. Modern quilts have aesthetic roots in various 20th century art movements, draw from many cultural “moments,” and owe plenty to quilts and quilters that came before. Seeing those roots helps us as quilters look ahead — and the future of the modern quilt is nothing short of thrilling. Popular QuiltCon lecturer Mary Fons brings you the history of the modern quilt (so far) and predicts what’s to come as the moderns forge ahead in what she believes is the second wave of the Great American Quilt Revival.
*Note to self: Buy guitar. Learn how to play guitar, write music, sing while playing guitar.