When our fiber art group first formed, we had many decisions to make about how the group would run. So, in the beginning, we had a meeting to discuss the basic rules and parameters. Since our commencement, several other groups of artists have formed similar critique troupes, and have asked the Painted Hills Fiber Artists how we got started. This is the story.
The women in our group were members of the Dixie Quilt Guild. All being members of the guild for some time, it was easy for us to know each other’s personalities and be familiar with one another’s work style. The idea struck to form a “critique” group. From that, we had our first meeting and everyone brought their questions and ideas for discussion.
We made a list of what we thought might be necessary to organize. Some of those questions needing answers were:
What types of goals we would have as a group and as individual artists? We thought we would like to create and exhibit as a group, as well as individually. This would mean that someone in the group needed to be named as the primary contact, in order to submit proposals to various exhibiting venues. Although no one in particular is in charge, or maintains any type of office, another person is in charge of producing an agenda prior to meetings. Another member takes notes, and emails the others reminders of dates, activities, etc.
Needed to name our group. We didn’t name our group until the second meeting. At the first meeting, one of our assignments was to go home and brainstorm names, write them down and bring the list to the second meeting. This item took longer than one might think. We discussed many names, the connotations, reasons and representations of each suggested name. We finally agreed on Painted Hills Fiber Artists.
How often would we meet? We agreed to meet on a monthly basis, with lea way for unforeseen situations. However, we all marked our calendars for the same day each month, and try to plan other activities and appointments around our meeting date and time.
Where would we meet? Unless other circumstances dictated a different meeting place, we chose to reserve one member’s residential clubhouse. We like it because it has kitchen facilities; thus we often enjoy a potluck lunch after our 10:00 AM meeting.
Critique, NOT Criticize: Probably the most important rule we all decided on is that we are a “Critique” group. This means not to criticize, but to be honest when asked for input or advice on any in-progress work.
Dues: There are some expenses incurred by the group. We have annual “dues” that are kept by one member in a checking account. Those funds are used for things like printing exhibition post cards, banners for exhibits, paper and ink for PHFA related work, and any unexpected expenses that might come up. We find the system works very well.
Conversation: We are diverse people, in politics and religion, so our discussions do not include political or religious topics. That way, we can remain friends. All other (and I mean “All Other”) topics are fair fodder for discussion.
How many members shall be in our group? We live in an area where many wonderful artists and quilters live. It is tempting to invite some of those fabulous fiber artists we know into our troupe. However, after much labored discussion on the subject, we decided to keep the membership to just seven. That is the maximum number of people that fit into a mini-van when we take road trips! Luggage is another topic. One of our members gave us a lesson on how to pack very compactly into one bag. Phew! P.S. there is not much space in the hatch of a 7-passenger mini-van, so we do not even toy with the idea of bring sewing machines!
As an update September, 2019, our seven original member are still together. We have met most months since the establishment of the Painted Hills Fiber Artists. We have created and exhibited much work. Ribbons and awards have been earned. We remain honest and loving with one another. There has been travel as groups and singularly. We have experienced an 18-month mission for one member, and missed her tremendously. Two of our members have been cancer survivors with love and support of the PHFA’s. Some have lost siblings and parents, some have expanded family to great-grandchildren. We have learned much from one another and still admire, respect and love each other. We are all grateful for our beloved group of seven, the Painted Hills Fiber Artists.