Last night the Wellesley Women Artisans got together to discuss our current work and brainstorm new directions. It was a wonderful experience and I thought I would share how we came to be in case you might be interested in bringing together women artisans where you live for a similar experience.
Over the summer a woman in town emailed me out of the blue. She said she’d read about me an article in our weekly newspaper in 2007 (when I had a show at our local library) and had been meaning to get in touch ever since. She is potter and wanted to reach out to connect with another woman in town pursing a creative career.
Wellesley is known for many things, including a top teir women’s college, an incredible public school systems, and, to be honest, wealth and homogeneity. Clearly that doesn’t sum up the reality of Wellesley (diversity of all kinds does exist here), but it is safe to say our town is not known as a center for bohemian artmaking. I lived here for nearly seven years before becoming aware of any other artists in town. In fact, at times it seemed I was the only one scurrying home after school drop-off to draw, stitch, and create.
The woman who emailed me turned out to be Elizabeth Cohen and she came over to visit and see my studio. And then I went to visit her and see her porcelain work. While I was there one of us casually suggested that we form some kind of group of like-minded women makers in town. I left, not thinking much of it. But Elizabeth followed up and we arranged to have dinner at a local restaurant, each of us inviting the few women we knew who were also artists.
Then we had a decoupage night at someone else’s house, and a few more women were added until we had nine all together. To make communication easier, I set up a Google Group and Wellesley Women Artisans was born!
At the end of our decoupage night, someone suggested that our next gathering be a sort of check-in on what each of us was currently working on, with the goal of helping to brainstorm next steps and work through areas where we might be stuck. That meeting was last night.
Each of us brough some current projects and set them up on Elizabeth’s dining room table. And then we went around, talking for a few minutes about what we are doing, what successes we’ve had, what we hope to achieve with our current work. And everyone brainstormed, helping to come up with ways to take the work further, to help each person to achieve their goals, whether it be to license designs, to expand a craft business, to get a book published, to work with a new material, or to get a show at a Boston gallery.
And it was unquestionably amazing. Each of us works in a different way, in a different media, and with different degrees of intensity and commercial success. But each of us is working, creating, trying to make money, thinking hard about our next steps.
Before we wrapped up we decided to apply for two upcoming group exhibiting opportunities in town. I think the experience of working on those shows in the coming months will coalese this group even further.
I rarely volunteer to organize any sort of social gathering (volunteering for the PTA is not on my agenda), but orgazining this group feels fantastic. I think no matter where you live, even in a rural area or a staid suburb, if you look beyond the surface there are makers in your midst. Think about bringing them together to make something, to organize a show, to discuss current work. Youll be so glad you did.