Andrea Donnelly "Portrait of a Recent Storm Cloud" (detail)

“Beyond the Surface: SDA 2019 Conference” by Mary Elmusa, Kansas member

Two weeks after the SDA conference, Beyond the Surface, in St. Louis, Missouri, I am still reminiscing about it and how much I enjoyed interacting with new acquaintances, renewing friendships with friends from past conferences, and SDA-related happenings. Hats off to conference planners, as events, exhibits, and workshops were so varied, well organized, and in very convenient locations. On Wednesday and Thursday I, like many other attendees, took advantage of excellent pre-conference workshops. Laura Foster Nicholson’s Your Art Fabrics in Interior Design and Jennifer Reis’ From Art to Entrepreneurship both proved to be full of valuable content and thoroughly well planned.

Workshop by Laura Foster Nicholson at SLAG

Make It & Take It session at opening of SDA exhibit On the Surface

Beyond the Surface Juried SDA Member Show at SLAG


It was a brilliant idea that Beyond the Surface was planned to coordinate with Innovations in Textiles, a repeating event in St Louis, taking place over a period of months, which honors art created with fibers & textiles by exhibiting work in over 40 shows. Many of the openings and related events sponsored by Innovations in Textiles coincided with the SDA conference and attendees were able to enjoy both. An example was Fiber Focus 2019, a Midwest 9-state regional juried exhibit. The SDA affiliated exhibits provided many excellent opportunities for members to show work to a large audience and were so inspiring.

Fiber Focus 2019 at Art St Louis, SDA member Becky Stevens discussing her work

MoFA On the Ramp exhibit Juror Talk by Louanne Rimmel at SLAG

There was so much to experience, and I am thankful that the scheduled bus tour was one. On Saturday, day three of the conference, four coach busses carried attendees on four separate routes to view several of the multitude of fiber exhibits throughout the city and surrounding areas. From 9am to 4pm we had the opportunity to relax and visit with new and old friends. Local artists and volunteer tour guides pointed out landmarks and points of interest as we rode over 87 miles Saturday in search of the art we craved. Busses left from the Clayton Plaza hotel, where many attendees were staying.

Small Works SDA exhibit at Webster U’s Arcade Contemporary Art Projects

On the Bus Tour Speaker Artist Deann Rubin

Each bus visited around five different exhibits, both those associated with SDA & also ones which were affiliated with Innovations in Textiles.  The bus tour was open also to those not attending the conference. As a result, many members of Missouri Fiber Artists (MOFA) & other regional groups, such as the Weaver’s Guild of St. Louis, who had work in the shows we visited, were able to offer insights into their art on display. Two of the tour busses headed for exhibits centered around downtown St. Louis. Another headed for neighboring city, Edwardsville in part to see the SDA Student Exhibit, Future Tense 2019, which also included an opening reception. Our bus headed for St. Charles, Missouri.

Reflections on Cloth exhibit by Kelsey Wiskkirchen at Monday Club

Visiting outside the exhibit Totems- Personal Stories in Fiber

At each stop, gallery owners and directors welcomed our group and provided snacks and treats. The pace of visits was timed well. We had enough time to take in the work as well as visit and relax a bit. Our lunch took place at the amazing Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles, Missouri. On exhibit were the renowned traveling Quilt National 2019 and a MOFA exhibit, Tall & Skinny. After lunch there was plenty of time to explore the exhibits and visit with artists who maintain studios at the Foundry.

Lunch at Foundry Art Center

Quilt National 2019 exhibit at the Foundry, St. Charles, MO

There’s nothing like spending quality time with like-minded & creative people. It is especially fun to do so when a delightful series of events and opportunities have been planned to enable one to easily do so. 

Mary Elmusa, Kansas member

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