For the past few years I have submitted pieces to more than a few juried shows. I look at each rejection as a critique of my work, albeit one without words. Why was it rejected? What were the criteria? What was the judge or curator looking for? Is this my best work?
If this is all you have to go on as an artist it can be very frustrating. I am lucky enough to have a group of artist friends who are happy to critique my work – to tell me what works and what doesn’t work. And in each case, they are absolutely right.
The last few printmaking classes that I took were critique classes. Each quarter, you were given the floor to show the class your latest work. The class would point out what they liked, what they didn’t, ask questions, suggest changes or new techniques. It was so helpful and improved my printmaking by leaps and bounds.
Some of my most beautiful and detailed work is not my best as an artist. This can be so disappointing because these pieces can take forever to get them just right — to have them glanced over and set aside is so difficult.
But these pieces often don’t say anything, it is just there – lovely to look at but like many things/people that are lovely to look at, they don’t have much to say. And I have to accept that and move on. If I really love it, I’ll keep it for myself or give it to a friend. But I won’t make excuses for it or slam the juror. Yes, it’s all very personal, but at the end of the day, do you want to grow as an artist, or do you want to make the same thing year after year? It really is up to you.
Me? I want to evolve. I want my work to evolve. So my point is, and I do have one…
This weekend I was thrilled to find out that my small piece, “Jailbird” was accepted in to the Kirkland Arts Center’s annual member’s show. The judge was local art dealer, Gunnar Nordstrom. This is a piece that over and over again has garnered wonderful comments and makes people pause, not because of it’s technical complexity or the amount of detailed stitching, but because of what it is saying.
A lesson learned.