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Ellen Anne Eddy
Author of Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy Fiber artist, author and teacher
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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Musings: Art Outside the Box: The Green Eyed Monster and the Time Machine

Dancing in the Light
National Quilt Museum
Opening night, April 24th
Paducah, KY 2011

I got to go to Paducah to see the unveiling of my quilt. They bought Dancing in the Light, last year for their permanent collection. The opening was its first viewing there.

I wish I could say that I've had so many experiences like that that it felt normal or natural. I felt like Cinderella, thank God without the shoes. I arrived from my flight in Chicago, 15 minutes before the opening. I threw on my dress and ran ( as well as any lady my size with my knees can) to the ball. I met people who loved my quilt. I met people I'd loved forever for their work. I went from throwing- up-scared to simply sitting in a room with fellow artists I love.

I think any artist who's committed themselves to showing and to selling their work hits a point where it matters desperately what other people think.We all say we don't. It's whistling in the dark, as far as I can tell.  It has to do with paying your mortgage at some point. But before that, you commit to your art it such a way that it has to pay you back in terms of some response. Those who are supported externally have a leg up on this, but they also lack some of the edge artistically.We're all waiting for the response. We do our artistic best and put it up the flag pole to see who salutes.

When I began doing art quilts in the late 1970's, there was an explosion of excellent people fighting to be seen. That's still ongoing. In fact it's so much harder to be recognized or for that point, remembered. We create, we show, we publish, we teach, and in that river of activity, we wait for the response.

In those early days, I remember the agony of not getting in. This show. That book. This opportunity. That also hasn't changed. There are only so many slots and there are many more pegs. It's a real danger sitting with a friend who's just gotten into Quilt National when you haven't. Your happy for her. Right? Right? Well, yes but. And the but is sour and has a long after-burn.

 I realized at a certain point I was using these moments of win or lose, inclusion and exclusion to define who I am. Shallow as that is, it's hard not to. The green eyed monster affects all of us, no matter what color our eyes are.

Of course, outside the quilt world, who cares? The quilt world is a very tiny pond. I can't imagine anyone writing on my tombstone, " She finally got into Quilt National when she was 89." Of course they also won't write, "she had an immaculate house", or "she was always a size 3 jeans". I hope they say I did a good job continuing my art and  of loving the people in front of me. 

Time is a slow moving machine. But it does move. I've come to be grateful for the fact that it moves slowly. Attitude adjustment takes a long time sometimes. Somewhere after I'd written Thread Magic, I realized that I would have honors all my own. And that no one should collect them all.  The green eyed monster seems to need the time machine to tame it into a glint, rather than a Gordon's stare. Perhaps what truly tames it is enough sense of who we are that we no longer are so hungry for definition. Or so willing to take it from external sources.

I sent in my IQA offering this week, with the green eyed monster locked safely down by the laundry machines in the basement. I don't always get in. I don't always get anything. But I have had mine. And so may we all.


QuilterLaura said...

Wow, congratulations! It is an amazing quilt. You are amazing too, even if we don't take the time to let you know often enough. By the way, you're an excellent writer too!

LindaSchiffer said...

OH, yes, we all do look for that response (even those of us who "don't compete"). What I want is that rapid intake of breath when you shake the quilt out into vision - that, "aaah!" That's my reward. :)

Green eyed demons are a challenge for everyone - good on you for (mostly) staking yours.


:) Linda

Judy said...

Your work is eye-poppingly beautiful..I am so glad you are getting the Recognition you richly deserve.

Renée's Country Quilts said...

Congratulations. The quilt is spectacular for sure.
Savannah Ga.

Virginia Greaves said...

Amen. (And congratulations!)

Pat Winter said...

You've come a long way baby and your journey has just begun. Your work is like none I've seen. Sure there are copied versions but yours is yours, every detail, color, swirl and fabric bit...all yours and exquisitely done. I'm proud, honored and happy to have you as a friend...oh yes, always humbled by your kind comments too.
Continued success my friend.
Hugs and smiles,Pat

PeggySue said...

Congratulations, an honor well deserved, your work is wonderful! I know the green eyed monster all too well. I'm just learning to step out against a fear of rejection. Perspective is the gift of time.

Gloria said...

Congratulations! Well deserved recognition of your work. You have so made so many beautiful pieces and I know you have many more to make in the future.

Anonymous said...

As the proud owner of one of your first small works, I have watched your ideas grow and change over time. You have received many awards (though there are still some to be won.) You lead a full and satisfying life with friends and neighbors, gardens and pets as well as your teaching and works. You are fortunate to have achieved so much. Keep it up!

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