Vulnerability, who wants it?

Dianne here…..thanks to all you commented publicly and privately on my blog post about the alpaca rug and lack of acknowledgment I received. It was interesting to hear how others have experienced the same lack of appreciation but more importantly how you felt about it. So here is one more ‘therapy’ session before I share what I am doing, fiber wise.

A couple of years ago I responded to a call for submissions to our local artist’s coop which has a nice storefront. Artists are solicited to apply every couple of years when the members decide they need more artists or diversity in their artwork. If accepted, members contribute to the cost of the storefront, work in the store and pay a % of sales to the coop. I often buy gifts in the store to support the local artists; many of the items are paintings, pottery and jewelry with a little weaving and woodworking. Nothing like our braiding or hooking.

I was skeptical about applying for the obvious reasons: I wasn’t sure I wanted to have to produce enough items to sell if accepted, would that be more like a job? Hooked items take longer, would there be a market for them? bowlsTho Kris McDermet and I have made combination hooked bowls which are relatively quick to make-that might work….and of course I worried about being rejected. There it is again, lack of confidence in our own work before others. It didn’t matter that several acquaintances have suggested that I apply over the years. I saw an advantage that I would meet like-minded folks who put their creativity to work,  I looked forward to working in the store, and I am a fan of coops.

So I applied. I filled out an application, submitted several ‘priced’ pieces which represented what I would put in the store, if accepted. True to coop fashion, the members were asked to come one evening to vote,  and we picked up our pieces the next day. I was encouraged when I picked up my stuff because the member coordinating the pick up asked a lot of questions about my braided baskets….but a few days later I got the form letter saying I did not get accepted.

The point of this blog is to share my reaction. I thought I had prepared myself for negative results, I really did. But it surprised me to find how disappointed I was when I didn’t get in. More than disappointed, verging on depressed. I couldn’t shake it for a couple of weeks. It led me to some self-reflection (here’s the therapy part) and to consider that most of us do not open ourselves up to rejection as adults. Our long-ago schooling was probably the last time we were evaluated and then we had to endure it. This was different: I asked for it! It didn’t help to think, they only took painters this time around and only 3 out of 13 applicants, I rationalized: I wouldn’t have wanted to produce that much anyway, etc etc….

Will I apply again? Doubt it, but then I have not seen a call for submissions since that time. Part of me wants to share the beauty of braiding/hooking with the outside world, especially the various non-traditional things that can be done, e.g., with fabrics other than wool, baskets, mats, tiny braids, etc. Many of the compliments I have received over the years have been, “Oh I didn’t know you could do that with braids, I thought braiding was just for big room rugs”.

Several of you have shared similar stories and I know one friend who has admirably persisted several years to a positive end in a juried situation which in some ways is harder than this, more generic community-based evaluation. Juried folks should know what to look for; I have no idea what my ‘judges’ were judging, probably sale potential since it is a business. And one friend just put herself up for a similar evaluation and we shared our rejection stories and emotions.

Enough therapy….tho encourage you to comment.

So, onto current projects. I recently finished a combination hooking/braiding project, mainly to show students how to combine both when starting with a braided center. I will be 01eb2dd6a482dab2e06ad6e7a9f58869c6285b5352teaching several classes in chair pads for rug hookers and wanted to show them how the round start technique could  have an added hooked wreath. Kris has several examples in our book, and I have one, but that is the reason for doing this one. The center is all butted, the hooked wreath done with my hand dyed wool trying to pick up a light turquoise in the plaid,  and the last row of braids is a triple picot but with only one loop between rather than 2 to give a ruffled effect. Turns out it is too big for my one wooden chair which has a chair pad already so it might become a hanging! And I am continuing on my muted hit and miss round rug; currently at 65″ diameter but it needs to be 91″. More about that later.

Thanks for listening.

6 thoughts on “Vulnerability, who wants it?

  1. Diane: You are a brave soul for even putting yourself out there! Not me, never ever!! You do such lovely work and design so many captivating pieces.

  2. Dear Dianne,
    Yes, not much fun to lay your work out there for judging and deal with rejection. I think, in large part, you — like me, in a recent experience — may have chosen the wrong evaluators. It sounds like you realize that the store is more of a pottery/painting place, rather than a fiber arts place. You have to take comfort in the fact that while they chose not to include your work, it probably was a categorical decision rather than specifically rejecting your work.

    In my own experience, I think despite the name “craftsman” in the group I applied to, that it’s really more of a funky artsy, found object, video-attached “installation” type group. So, not a place I should even have applied in the first place: I’m never going to put found objects in my rugs, and there will be no associated video, ever, as far as I’m concerned.

    Who then, to evaluate your work? Stay within the fiber arts community. In my own opinion, your work is innovative and cool and fun and beautiful.

    Can’t wait to see your finished hit and miss.


    • I agree with Christine- the Fiber Arts community is more receptive to the media use of fibers and can appreciate the work and skill. The county fairs as much as it might seem too folksy, is a wonderful place to have one’s work recognized, at least it is in my “stretch of the woods.” Carry on. Patsy Simon

  3. Dianne, So sorry you were disappointed to have been rejected. I am sure it was not for lack of quality. I love the piece you showed on the blog. Wish I could hook. I may have to try Christine’s solution and go for the punch needle.

  4. Diane, Dismiss that disappointment. Think of how many people want to learn from you the skill that you display in your beautiful work. If your works were not admired we wouldn’t come to be taught by you, join your blog, buy and promote your book. Thank you. Peggyann

    • Dianne here: Peggyann and others: you are too kind…..I have dismissed the disappointment (pretty much) but thought it a good followup for the other blog I wrote about the undervaluation….
      The best part of our art/craft forms is how much pleasure it gives US, right?! It is only when we open ourselves up for evaluation that we tend to forget that priority. Look forward to seeing you soon at Valley Forge Braid In….

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