When Susanne Miller Jones retired as an elementary school teacher she became an art quilter. Her work is highly textured and very realistic. She’s also the curator of Fly Me to the Moon, a collection of art quilts made by artists from eight countries celebrating the moon walk. Susanne explains how she came up with the idea for a themed quilt show and the steps she took to make it a success. The show debuted at International Quilt Festival in Houston in 2016.
I’ve been sewing and crafting all of my life: knitting sweaters, crocheting hats, cross stitching samplers and making jewelry. All of these came together when I discovered my passion, art quilting. From sewing to beading to knitting tiny mittens on toothpicks, it all came into play in my art quilts. I was truly enjoying creating, when I surprised myself by coming up with the idea for Fly Me to the Moon, an exhibit of art quilts.
Some ideas come a little at a time and some come all at once like a gift. The idea for Fly Me to the Moon came all at once, inspired by a very routine activity. My husband and I were watching the news on July 20, 2014 and they were highlighting the 45th anniversary of the walk on the moon. I remarked that the 50th anniversary of Neil and Buzz’s moon walk would be a great theme for a quilt collection. The idea began to percolate and I began to write. Within 30-45 minutes, I had an entire exhibit planned.
Roger Chaffee, OBM by Phyllis Cullen for Fly Me to the Moon
The collection would commemorate the iconic images from the news; recall personal memories of July 20, 1969; honor all of the Apollo Missions; recognize all of the Apollo Astronauts; investigate scientific moon images; examine NASA’s cool tools; explain myths associated with the moon; define moon idioms; replay the music inspired by the moon; visit pop culture icons; and make us fall in love again under the romantic moon. For it to come to fruition I needed 90-130 quilts.
Leaving Home, Launch of the Apollo 8 by Tanya Brown
I decided to have artists pre-register to ensure that I had all of the astronauts and missions represented. Although I knew many quilters, I needed to get the word out to art quilters. I turned to my friends who graciously sent my call for entries to artists who participated in collections that they curated. Registrations came in slowly so I had to do something more to spread the word. I put the call out through Facebook.
Starting with my friends and my guilds, I widened the reach of the call for entries. I discovered many Facebook quilting and textile art groups that had huge memberships. I joined each one and put out my call.
Parkes Telescope, Australia by Susan Auden Wood
One morning I woke to find that my call had become international. Someone in the Netherlands wanted to participate. Spurred on by this exciting news, I contacted organizations that I had joined. Studio Art Quilt Associates graciously shared it on their Calls for Entry page. The Quilt Alliance allowed me to announce it on their Facebook page. The Quilt Show put it in their newsletter. I surpassed my original quilt goal, almost doubling it.
Crescent Moon by Denise Giardullo
Fly Me to the Moon drew entries from over 130 artists from eight countries. Participants came from the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Australia, and New Zealand. I decided to create a community of artists by starting a secret Facebook group. Open only to artists registered for Fly Me to the Moon, this was a place where they were allowed to share pictures of their work and ask for advice. By the time they finished their pieces, we all felt like we were close friends.
This experience has given me unimaginable opportunities. I sat in the Flight Director’s chair in Mission Control at Johnson Space Center. I met one of the Flight Directors, John Hodge, who worked on the Apollo missions. Most exciting of all, Fly Me to the Moon premiered at the Houston International Quilt Festival in November. The show got a two-page spread in the Houston Chronicle as well. So follow your dreams and act on those ideas that pop into your head. You never know where it will lead.