By now, the word is trickling out what we as board members have known for a short period of time. The International Quilt Association is shutting down.
Before you have a freak out moment, please understand, the International Quilt Association is not the same organization as the International Quilt Festival or Market, although they were founded by the same people. The International Quilt Association is the organization responsible for the World of Beauty quilt exhibition INSIDE International Quilt Festival, so it’s easy to think they are the same company.
The IQA is actually a 501 (c)(3) non profit organization, and it’s mission was dedicated to the preservation of the art of quilting, the attainment of public recognition for quilting as an art form, and the advancement of the state of the art throughout the world. It was founded in 1979 by Quilts Inc (home of Quilt Festival and Market) by Karey Patterson Bresenhan and Nancy O’Bryant Puentes and their mothers.
Throughout it’s many years, the IQA World of Beauty judged show was the resplendent jewel of the quilt show circuit. Many quilters, like myself, thought “one day, my quilt will be good enough to get in, and win, at World of Beauty.” The awards ceremony, often called the Oscars of the Quilt World, was a lavish highly produced affair, in which the best of the quilts were shown, and their makers honored. Winners were flown in for the ceremony, and I’m sure I’m not alone to have one day wished for their quilt to have been so honored with those gorgeous ribbons and to get that beautiful bouquet of flowers handed to you. Many quilters did receive that honor, and few more than once.
The International Quilt Association taught so many people that quilts were more than just bedclothes, they were pieces of art, capable of being hung in any museum. Karey’s and Nancy’s legacy will be to have elevated our work in the eyes of the public, and to have inspired quiltmakers around the world with 40 years of judged shows to look back on.
The IQA was responsible for many things other than the World of Beauty show, and Winners Circle award ceremony. At Quilt Festival, the organizations main fundraisers like Quiltapalooza, the mini-quilt Silent Auction, or the IQA luncheon added events for festival attendees to go to.
I had the honor of having my quilt “Geshwindigkeit” in the World of Beauty show in 2014. I haven’t had one in the show since. I have tried many many times for my quilts to be in World of Beauty, but only ever had one.
My first event I ever went to at Quilt Festival was Quiltapalooza, a raucus “party” atmosphere that sold out fast every year, even though the room held 450 people.
People had asked me for a few years before 2019 to join the IQA board, but I didn’t have the time. But I had the honor of joining the board in 2019.
Quiltapalooza was now in my charge as Vice President of Membership. It was on Halloween, and me being the queen of costumes, I couldn’t let people down! I even got to give away an award at the Winners Circle Award Ceremony, the closest I will ever get to being on the stage…
The pandemic has claimed countless lives, and countless businesses and organizations too. It was one of the saddest things I have ever had to do as a board member: to have to vote to close it down. Karey and Nancy built something amazing, and I am lucky to have memories of being a part of it.