The Exemplary

by Donna Halpern
Originally Published Fall 2008

Preparations are underway for the 2009 Exemplary and in doing so, we are reminded of the primary goals of NAN’s Exemplary.

All stitchers and friends of NAN are encouraged to enter their accomplishments: to share with others, to receive feedback and to have the pleasure of knowing that their pieces have been exhibited by one of the most widely recognized and prestigious needlework exhibits in America. It’s possible that stitchers are not aware of the pleasure, enjoyment and gratification they bring to the viewers who attend the exhibit. Needleartists should also know that sharing embroideries with fellow stitchers and with others who may know little of the skills and talents of a needleartist , provides the public at large with opportunities to see creativity, color, design and originality .

As we look at the reasons for entering an exhibit, three well-known individuals from the needlework world are quoted below:

As Nellie Bergh in a 1976 article (NeedleArts, Vol.7, No. 1, 1976) wrote, “There are obvious reasons for embroidery exhibitions, such as the sheer joy for the members to show and share this exciting art with the public. Then there is the educational opportunity for the Guild to demonstrate its purpose and accomplishments.”

To which the late Chottie Alderson replied: “An exhibition should be primarily concerned with the work of its exhibitors—both traditional and contemporary, conventional and experimental. Embroidery is a marvelous medium to show what people are thinking, doing, and seeing—and their reaction to the times we live in. It is literally a barometer of our time, registering the mental and emotional attitude of the people. It records our state of contentment, our sense of humor, our ease with life or the lack of same. It is also an economic indicator of the culture in which it is worked.” (ibid)

Two other comments from these needleartists also bear repeating: “We do embroidery for pleasure, for fun, as a way to say something, or to gain perfection for our own satisfaction. Do we need to be so insecure or ambitious that we require a blue ribbon every time to know we have worked a beautiful piece of embroidery?” And “No one should ever be reluctant to mention or give credit to his/her teacher. We all learn from someone, and that without teachers we’d know much less.” (ibid)

And then, from Kathleen Mackie (ANG Needlepointers, October/November 1987), she proposes that a good exhibit is “the bridge of communication between the creator of the embroidery and the visitors to view the show. The embroideries will speak for themselves in the beauty of their color, design and their stitching……It should also aim to educate the public who come to view the show to just what embroidery is all about. “

The 2009 Exemplary will once again be a showcase of fine needlework from our contributing needleartists. Great care and consideration is given to each piece….from the time it is received, prepared for judging, actually judged and then placed in a position to highlight the workmanship and creativity of the entrant.

As a needleartist, it’s always a disconcerting feeling to place the culmination of hundreds of dedicated hours, love and emotion which resulted in a fine example of our needlework into a box and entrust it to UPS, FedEx or the USPS. However, with careful packaging, insurance and utilizing tracking services, the rates of success in timely and safe delivery are nearly 99.9%. (Remember, no peanuts!!)

Be not timid…..this is a time to share your accomplishments with others. Sometimes the most gratifying award can be comments from viewers and other stitchers on the beauty, color and execution of a piece. Ribbons are an acknowledgement of achievement, and even though NAN utilizes a comprehensive and definitive point system, it is important to bear in mind that all judging is subjective. And returning to another Chottie comment,“I’ll bet my best thimble that no judge could go back to a show the second day and judge it the same way it was judged the first time.” (ibid)

Support NAN by participating in the Exemplary. The more entries that are received, the greater the recognition that the organization and the exhibit receives.

Increase your knowledge and abilities by requesting a critique of your work.

Motivation comes to all by seeing stitched pieces “in person” rather than in a book, chart, or online. The Exemplary allows all to view truly magnificent pieces to be seen with color changes, outstanding presentations and finishing, fine pieces of original work, and of course to see those who are honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The benefits of submitting your work for display in this year’s Exemplary is a much longer list that presented her. The key word though is “PARTICIPATE.” Your entries guarantee the success of the 2009 exhibit.

More Hats . . . .