Sarah Ann Smith
1. What is sitting on the edges of your work table? Too many things! Currently, a piece for a curated exhibit at New England Quilt Museum, paperwork that needs filing, a modern quilt idea that has been there for two years awaiting time to make it, some fabric to make leggings, a brochure from a fabric line for an idea to make Christmas jammie pants for the family, a cup ring or two, seam ripper, scraps from the edge of a just-squared-up art quilt, a utensil organizer that spins with all my scissors, rotary cutters, writing pens, fabric marking tool and a few other things. Tidy attack. Needs. To. Happen.
2. If someone looked beneath the surface, what could be revealed that we might not know about you? I used to be a US diplomat and in my life (before and during the Foreign Service) have lived in North America, South America, Africa, Europe and Asia. It’s really good to finally have a place to call home: Maine!
3. What occupies the space between your sewing machine and your cutting table? A BIG garden tub used as a trash can.
4. What is the most exquisite moment in your artistic life? It’s hard to pin it down to one…I think it would have to be when Quilts, Inc. **asked** me to submit a proposal to have a solo exhibit of my work at International Quilt Festival, and then created the Rising Stars exhibit to showcase my work and that of another artist. For this recurring exhibit, they used my proposal as a template, then added more to it to make the exhibit even better. Even now that it has happened I’m still astonished, delighted and grateful.
5. Do you have daily rituals in your studio? Not really any daily rituals. Alas, I don’t make it in to my studio every day. But I do have to have a tidy attack after every piece—I just can’t function in chaos. If it gets too deep, I have to my tidy between phases, like after painting but before sewing. Maybe I need to ADD some rituals that involve things like exercise, stretching, crunches and weight work.
6. Reflecting on the quilts that you have made, which one stands out to you? The mother in me loves the portraits of my sons best: the one of Eli during Cross Country season for Reflections, and the one of Joshua for Beneath the Surface. But I think my favorite piece that I have made for Dinner@8 is my labyrinth quilt, Descended From the Stars. It is somewhat atypical for my representational style, but embodies who I am, where I have been, and that the seasons turn.
7. What do you have an affinity for in your work? COLOR! The quilting line! At least a decade ago I remember my friend Deborah Boschert saying in an exchange on an online chat group that it was "all about the line.” Immediately, I thought NO! It’s about the color, and paused literally mid-thought and went, OK, it’s about BOTH.
8. What kinds of patterns do you use in your work to create interest and texture? More and more, I am dyeing my own fabric, but I mix it with tone-on-tone (not high contrast) batiks to use the visual texture from the batiks. I am now using my own thermofax screens to print on my own cloth to create what I want, eliminating the need to hunt for a commercial fabric that will work. For physical pattern and texture, I machine quilting, but would like to see if I can create time in my work schedule to permit some hand and surface work.
9. What personal iconography is identifiable to you exclusively in your work? My way of using fabrics and machine quilting are probably the most recognizable features, but I have made many quilts inspired by my surroundings in Maine. I would love to create a larger body of work and have a “Maine” exhibit some day.
10. What was your inspiration for the Best of Dinner at Eight? For this year, my inspiration was at a farmers’ market in Belfast, in the mid-coast of Maine. I literally stopped in my tracks when I saw the oyster mushrooms that were truly the exact shade of pink in the artwork. I asked, and when cooked up they lose some of their brightness, but the color and the sinuous shapes had me at first sight. I’ve put a photograph of the original inspiration on the label on the back of the quilt.