Monday, February 8, 2010

JOAN SCHULZE - Retrospective at San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

Recent Commission for Palo Alto Medical Foundation Art Collection

Mixed Media - 2009 - 42" x 84"

Just recently my husband and I drove up to Appalachian State University in Boone NC to see two exhibits at The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts. One of those exhibits was a traveling exhibition of work entitled 12 VOICES and was organized by the Studio Art Quilt Association of which I am a member. The work was interesting overall but there were standouts which I wrote about.

Sometimes you know why you are attracted to a particular artist's work and this was the case with the work of Joan Schulze. I had seen reproductions of her art and I had visited her website, but seeing the work in person sealed my interest in the work and the artist.

Collage - 2010 - 8" x 10"

The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles in San Jose, Ca is presenting a retrospective of her 40 year career and the show will run from Feb. 16-May 9 2010. The exhibit showcases Schulze's immense body of work from her early quilts to her most recent fiber collages that fuse photographic images with painted textures and mark-making .

I find this very exciting as it represents the broadening that has been and is taking place in textiles and the "cross-over" work that so many artists are making. Congratulations Joan! Can't wait to see the catalog.

Collage - 2010 - 8" x 10"

Interview with Joan Schulze

Terry: At what point in your life did you know at your core that you were an artist?

Joan: The idea that I could be an artist grew when we moved to California in 1967. There were artists in the neighborhood and it seemed that even with 3 children, I could explore stitchery. I sewed. I learned to embroider. By 1970 it was clear to me that this vocation was insistent. I used the word artist in describing myself right away.

Terry: Do you ever get into an artistic slump and if so, how do you rejuvenate yourself?

Joan: I never have had time to have an artistic slump. I can always find something to do. This often leads to another project. When I run into a design or technical problem and can't think of an immediate solution, I leave it alone and work on something else. I often find I can return to the sticking point and a solution presents itself. Working on something, almost anything, refreshes an rejuvenates me.

Terry: Please describe your studio activity...your work habit.

Joan: I tend to work in fragments of time. I can be planning a trip, organizing a workshop or writing and article or poem and thinking about what I left unfinished in the studio. The physical making of the art is squeezed out of a day or week. It's wonderful to find 2 full days with no interruptions. I get a lot done because I am making lists of what I need to do, organize things so that I can hit the ground running when I arrive at the studio. My studio is 40 minutes away in San Francisco. My office is at home. I do a lot of work on the computer which helps me organize my studio life.

Joan's Studio

Terry: You seem to be a very productive artist. Do you work on many pieces simultaneously? Do you work in more than one medium at a time?

I usually have 3 or more pieces in the works. If they are large, they take a different kind of energy than smaller work. When I find myself being really tired, I take a break and switch to working small, mostly collages or works on paper. It changes the pace and I often get a second or third wind. I can easily extend a working day this way.

Terry: What do you find most interesting in the world of textiles today?

Joan: I find this question difficult because I haven't had time to see nor read what is going on. Now that my book is finished and my retrospective is opening middle of February, I may have some time to go to a few galleries and museums, perhaps make dent in the stack of magazines and books.

Artist Statement

I asked Joan for an artist statement that was very current and she sent me two poems which she says are statements of a sort.


collage if you must

race ahead with experiments

let imagination run riot

failure is its own reward

pay tribute to your muses,

your heroes, your limits

be sentimental, yet tough

the editor is home,

you are always home.

and Poem 2:


life is

...a solo

...a collaboration

a complex balance

of danceable intricacies

keep moving

act with grace

sky above

ground below

test the wind

keep the spirit

Joan Schulze

Joan In Studio
Teresa Huang Photographer

Featured Accomplishments

Seventh International Fiber Biennial - Feb 5 - March 20, 2010

303 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

50th Anniversary
Collage - 2009 - 8.5" x 11"

Dear Readers, Some people have alerted me to issues posting comments. Please let me know if you are unable to comment as I want Joan to know you dropped by. Thank you.


  1. I've always loved and admired Joan's work -- nice to see a bunch of it together! I was interested that her smaller collages appear to have only paper, no fiber. So many of us fiber types seem to have the urge to sew on everything we do, no matter what the medium.

  2. Brilliant art, brilliant poetry- this lady has it all! Thanks for this article, Terry. :D

  3. Thanks gals! I'm not sure there is even any stitching on the collages but if you think about it much of what we do is collage so it all works. I appreciate the offering of works in a variety of materials.

  4. I have been trying to post a comment on Joan's interview. Can not get it to post. Keeps asking for URL. Do not know what to put in the box. Everything I have put in it says it is wrong.

    My wife and I have been friends with Joan for several years and we have learned so much from her. She is an inspiration and mentor for us, not only as a teacher but as an artist who is fully engaged in the process of creation from many different venues. How many artists do you know whose voice and vision is equally powerful through surface design and the written word? Joan has mastered the art of engagement, which draws the viewer into the work and to a new world of experience.

    Jack Brockette

    Thanks so much for sharing the interview.

  5. To Jack and others who have trouble figuring out how to outwit the system in posting comments --

    Put your name in the "name" box and leave the "url" box blank. Sometimes you have to try more than once to get it to accept you, but it will eventually do so.