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Friday, October 12, 2012

About Jurying and thoughts about Quilt National

Kennedy Museum of Art, Ohio University, Athens, OH
 Ever since the notifications came out about who was accepted into Quilt National, the Studio Art Quilt Associate's (SAQA) yahoo group and the Quilt Art message board has been flooded with who got in and who didn't...and why things might or might not have been chosen.  Quilt National, the Biennial show at the Dairy Barn in Athens, Ohio is one of the shows that almost every art quilter wants to have a piece exhibited, and few get in.  The caliber of the pieces submitted and the "big names" who submit, is very high indeed.

I was interested in how many people who I consider very good and who are published stated that they were more often than not not selected.  Pamela Allen, whose work is widely published and shown was finally accepted for the first time this year, after 5 previous attempts.

This got me thinking that wouldn't it be fun to have a "shut out" exhibition just down the street at the Kennedy Museum of Art.  The Kennedy is housed in the old Lin Hall of the Ridges, formerly a state mental institution which has been decommissioned, and the buildings largely taken over by Ohio University.  The Ridges Campus is sprawling with many glorious examples of public institutional architecture, something which has always interested me.  

While several of the main halls have been rennovated and serve as galleries, not all the floors have been fixed up.  In fact, as you can see here, some of the windows have been broken out and not boarded over or replaced.  I thought it would be kind of cool to have the quilts hung in rooms which hadn't been fixed up....but of course, that presents lots of problems from environmental issues for the quilts as well as safety issues for people.  

I also started to think about the sheer numbers.....according to one person who contacted the Dairy Barn, this year there were 870 entries and 80 were chosen to show.  Hmm.  That's a lot of quilts.  Just to give you a comparison, I asked Pokey Bolton how many quilts were shown at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, she replied that she thought there were over 1,000....just a little more than were submitted for exhibition at Quilt National.  Obviously, this would be entirely unworkable.  

I don't feel badly about not getting in, for the reasons I pointed out on my previous posts on jurying.  Alison Schwab pointed out that jurying is not the same as judging and that the three jurors for this exhibition were faced with the daunting task of choosing a cohesive exhibition out of all these different pieces of art which were submitted.

Wen Redmond shared an exercise that she has done with her local group.  I thought it was so interesting and telling that I asked permission to include it here, and she agreed.   Here's what she wrote:

"I have applied to QN for many years- I think starting in the 80's. I have gotten in once.
While it was a disappointment not to be selected this year, I am encouraged to try again.
This simple exercise that can be done with any show n' tell group. I learned of this exercise from Margaret Sheehan when I was one of 3 regional rep's for SAQA of VT/ME/NH.

Count the number of folks who want to 'play' and divide by 1/4. This will be the number of folks selected for a 'exhibit'.
Title the exhibit.
Select 'judges'.
Each judge will independently select 1/4 of everyone participating to be in the 'exhibit'.
Have the 'winners's stand in front of the room, holding their work. 
Judges will arrange the 'show winners' in the order of how the show will be presented.
Judges will explain their criteria for their selections. 
Have the audience participate by agreeing or not or just simply rearranging the order of the 'winners'.

This exercise demonstrates the subjectiveness of the particular judge, how themes affect the show selections and how hard it is 
to select a coordinated and exciting show, and therefore, not to be discouraged when not selected!"

I thought this exercise was brilliant, and people who submit their work to shows and are not accepted should think about this each time they are disappointed.

So, go forth, and make even better art!  

And....take a look at Nina Marie's blog roll of quilty blogs on "Off the Wall Fridays"

1 comment:

Sherrie Spangler said...

I'd love to see the quilts that were rejected -- I'll bet many were spectacular. My one problem with QN is that when some of the same artists get in repeatedly (as happens with some of the best)and they are working in the same styles year after year, I wish the jurors would use that space for someone new with a fresh style. Not that I don't like to see what the "biggies" are doing, but I'd rather see some new approaches. Perhaps there could be a second exhibit or category for "repeat" QN artists.