A Word From Joe, the de Young's March Artist-in-Residence

Making quilts for most of my life, I have learned my way around certain parts of the world, the quilt world especially. What happens is that you fly to some conference site, or some town with a large quilt group, give a talk, teach a class, schmooze with the local quilters and fly home. Sometimes I teach four or five days worth of classes or give a series of lectures. None of it is like this residency at the de Young. At the moment I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, even though the staff at the museum has done everything they could to smooth the way and make me feel welcomed.

I think the thing that is causing me to feel anxious is the enormous gulf between the quilt world and the art world. Quilts exist in their own sort of realm. Since the majority of quilts are made as gifts, usually for a family member, and since they are so rarely shown in art galleries or anywhere sanctioned by art institutions, they have escaped notice by most of the art world. Exhibitions like the current one at the museum, Amish Abstractions: Quilts from the Collection of Faith and Stephen Brown, are becoming less rare, but still serve to introduce many museum goers to the astonishing idea that quilts made by "little old ladies" can have such graphic strength and ingenuity. 

So, part of my job here, as I see it, is to be an ambassador of quilts, to demonstrate that quilters can have ideas and techniques to make things that can exist happily in the space. It makes me want to make something for this project that will live up to the beautiful space, to the building, and to the rest of the art in the museum. Not to put pressure on myself or anything.

Okay, no pressure, no worry, no anything but setting it up so people can have fun in the studio with me. Here we go.