Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Member Profile: Julie Neu

Julie Neu was recently kind enough to answer a few questions so we can all get to know her better. Some of you might remember her from our last meeting when she shared a wonderful children's book which she had illustrated with her art quilts.

When did you start making art quilts? I’ve been quilting for 20 years and like many, started out as a traditional quilter. My foray into art quilts probably started with a week in a design class at Quilting by the Lake in 2006. After that, I started a “Creative Play” project in which I went into the studio with the sole purpose of playing and I made a small art quilt each week.

What type of work do you do? I do two different types of work right now. I create realistic quilts to use as illustrations for children’s books my sister writes. I also create precise geometric pieced quilts that are inspired by Islamic tile designs.

Do you have a favorite color palette?
I love jewel tones – deep, rich sapphire, emerald, amethyst, ruby. I’d rather have beautiful batiks in those colors than the real gems.

Are you working on a particular theme or series now? My educational background is in Middle Eastern Studies. I have a BA in that and a Masters of Theological Studies in Islam. I studied Arabic for six years. I’m now finally putting all of that to good use with a series called “Arabesques.” I am making intricate pieced quilts inspired by the geometric tile designs of the great mosques and Islamic palaces of the world.

How do you work? My work starts at the drafting table. I bring out the protractor, compass, ruler, and a big eraser and draw a full-sized rendering of my design. If the design isn’t precise, the rest of it will never work. Once I have a design, I create plastic templates of each piece and use those to cut and mark the alignment points on my fabric. Then I sew.

What is your studio like and when do you like to work? I like to work in the morning, but I have a four year old so I work when I can. Because we have a child and needed to move into a larger space that had an actual bedroom for her, my studio space is an additional bedroom where one entire wall is a design wall. When we decided to buy the house, I described it to my mother and she said, “Great! I’ll have a place to sleep when I visit.” I responded, “Sorry, no, that other bedroom is going to be my studio.” She’s an artist too so she understood.

How are you making the most of your SAQA membership? Which aspects of the organization are you enjoying?
I’m absolutely milking my SAQA membership. I joined recently, but I don’t think I let a month pass before I applied for the mentorship program. Having a mentor has been invaluable for both the knowledge that I have gained and the encouragement that I have had. My business practice has certainly improved as a result. I also really enjoy the meetings. Our region consists of a wonderful group of talented, interesting, and kind-hearted artists and I enjoy the companionship, the education, and the inspiration that the meetings provide.

Do you design your art with a purpose in mind? Generally I do not. I made the book illustrations with the express intent of creating a book, but much of my work isn’t created for a specific purpose. The exception to that is a project that I started a few months ago called “Victims.” It’s a departure from my other work and is meant to be a very political piece, an art as statement piece. After the mass shooting in Orlando, I was sewing and reflecting and the idea for the project flowed down into my mind. The design was fully formed within a few minutes. I am creating a quilt that contains a block with the name of each victim of a mass shooting in the United States during the last 20 years in which more than 10 people have died in one day. The events span from Columbine to Orlando and include Sandy Hook, San Bernadino, Aurora, and a few that I was embarrassed to realize that I had forgotten about along the way. 185 people and 185 blocks. My intent at this point is to quilt it, leave it unbound (because I don’t think it’s finished), and mail it to Senator Warren.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

SAQA Pod Meetings on Cape Cod

SAQA MA/RI Cape Cod Pod
Meeting November 17, 2016

Thirteen SAQA members and guests were in attendance at the first Cape Cod Pod meeting in Falmouth, MA this past Thursday. MA/RI SAQA Co-Rep, Nancy Turbitt, began the meeting with an overview of SAQA benefits, history and rules for maintaining a SAQA Pod. Non-member guests were encouraged to join in order to continue with the group.

The meeting was then turned to the members to discuss meeting dates, places, frequency and times. As this was the first time some members had met, they decided to meet monthly for the first few times and to lead it out with a Show & Tell to introduce each other and their styles of working. Skipping the month of December as a difficult month, they chose to start in January.

Melissa Averinos offered to inquire about Tumbleweeds, a Barnstable fabric and quilt shop, as their first choice of meeting place. Melissa will also be keeping everyone abreast of information on meetings and will be the connection to the MA/RI Reps for announcements. The meeting wrapped up with a viewing of the MA/RI Trunk Show, an announcement of the next regional meeting on March 11, 2017, and lunch followed by an invitation to visit Salley Mavor's studio a few miles away.

Thanks to Elaine Cominos Hickey for hosting the first meeting at her home and to Jeannette Spencer for taking notes. "Welcome" to those new members who joined SAQA as a result of the meeting. We are all looking to see wonderful things happening on Cape Cod as a result of this strong group of artists!

I rode over to Salley's studio with Jeannette Spencer and Brenda Jones and the three of us were just blown away by the ambiance of her studio and the actual work on the walls. Salley has a fantastic work space above her garage, full of light and lots of storage. She showed us thumbnails and enlarged drawings for a new book she is working on illustrating. She also had several mailings from her Etsy Shop, SalleyMavor, packed and ready to mail out. Each of the three of us visiting walked out having purchased one of her books which she was happy to personalize with an autograph.

Those members who may be interested in coming to a Cape Cod Pod meeting will find their announcements in the MA/RI Regional Newsletter which are emailed directly to members and can be found here on this blog under the heading of Newsletters.