Monday, April 2, 2012

AQE Philadelphia, 2012 Jurying: shouts and whispers.

esb at saqa

I just got back from the opening of Art Quilt Elements 2012 in Philadelphia and the associated joint  SAQA/SDA conference.   Lots of excitement, loads of visual stimulation and a great deal of talk and meeting of old, and making of new, friends!!  (that’s me,above,laughing at myself pontificating!)

I was on two panels – the first one on the jury process itself.  We were asked to comment on the process and give some suggestions re gaining acceptance at juried shows of this calibre.  These were my remarks:

“It’s a great privilege to be asked to choose a small percentage of pieces from a great number knowing,

as I do  so well myself, how one sends off the images  with great hope, cautious optimism and considerable trepidation. It’s an interesting phenomenon that people rarely want to know why a quilt was accepted, but rather why it was rejected! In fact of course one can learn just as much from an acceptance as a reject.

As jury members we were asked to score each piece from one to five and each time I gave a high score to a piece I wished I could shout:

“I love this because……….”

And for every low score I wanted to quietly whisper to the person:

“ you put so much work into this quilt and I can see that -  and it would have been wonderful if only you had…..”

So here are some of my shouts and whispers –

I loved it because:

It’s fresh and new and tickles my fancy – which is a place I love to be tickled!

Validity of purpose was obvious

A message and a particular point of view are very important…and I could see what the artist was trying to communicate

The best work has substance.

A great composition can carry a piece a long way.

The best work stays in your head and you want to look at it again and again.

My whispers: remember the juror has very little time..(though thanks to being able to view the images at leisure at home weeks before we came together, I was able to devote considerable time to the task).

Composition is v important

Validity of purpose is obvious,

And so is the lack of it

Trite obvious half hearted images turn you off very quickly

Messy ill composed jumbles don’t work; if  it’s ugly and jumbled too it’s not going to make it

Nor do pallid wishy washy ideas

Heavy borders usually pull a piece down

Undersized images are hard to see and will get less attention

Clunky compositions have no grace

Unity – or the lack of it – is very evident….

You can’t take bad drawings and make good quilts from them

A piece needs to have life and movement, lifeless work is not going to capture the viewer’s attention.

It’s important that some attempt at design, at composing the shapes (consciously or unconsciously) is evident and the patches just don’t appear to have been slapped on higgledy piggeldy.

It’s very important that there is Meaning to the piece – some work just didn’t have enough content to hold my interest

Title the work carefully, many titles are very off putting! There were several I just had to ignore…

If you’re doing something that has been done many times before, you have to do it better!

It struck me that in many cases it was the composition or arrangement of shapes/squares/rectangles etc that failed. If something appeared lumpy, unbalanced and muddy it was hard to look at for long.

There’s a difference between working in series and working to a formula

Sometimes I really liked the idea, but it was poorly executed

If it’s a folk art piece it’s got to have a special naivete;  a cross between folk and hallmark is not good!

Some pieces failed because the idea or the composition didn’t suit the medium

Some had too many different ideas, others didn’t push the idea far enough.

I don’t know if I would have juried myself in – if I could have made a quilt and then wiped the memory of it from my mind and entered it that might have been very revealing!! But I’m so very grateful to have been asked to be a member of this jury panel. I learned a great deal that I hope will stand me in good stead for the next time I think of entering a show and I’ve tried to tell you the chief things I gained. My tremendous thanks to the gracious hospitality and wonderful AQE team – they are the true stars! This show is their vision and every time it gets better.”

Oh and, by the way, my next Quilt University class, Inspired to Design,  starts this Friday, April 6th.  The class lasts about 7 weeks during which time you get 4 full downloadable lessons and unlimited questions answered!  well…questions about designing and making an art quilt!  Quilt University classes are really affordable: $36 for all the lessons, access to the discussion Forum where you can ask and discuss many things, and a photo gallery  for each  student.  I only wish I could find a watercolor class that was as reasonable in cost and as extensive in coverage.  In this class, I hope to inspire you with the many different ways you can travel from inspiration to fulfillment.  My journey sometimes starts with a place I have visited, a memory of a building (and then a hunt to find an image), a few words or a pile of coloured fabrics.  I remember one time searching through 30 years of slides to find one particular photograph from a trip to Whitby, a fishing village in Yorkshire.  That search led to three great quilts.

From my inspiration source, I usually make a large number of rough sketches, trying to reach the essence of what I see by using the fundamentals of line and shape.  In the lessons I discuss the steps to take to refine the design, before assembling it on the design wall in a free flowing painterly way!   My other Quilt University Class, Working in Series is open for registration too and it starts later in the Spring. 

Do let me know if you have any questions about either class. And, as always, all comments gratefully received, bloggers do like to be encouraged!!

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!  Elizabeth


Del said...

Words of encouragement! Bravo! Hurrah! Go for it! Thanks for this thoughtful view of jurying. I am at Mary's who said I had to read your Blog this morning. I'm glad I did. Love, Del-on-the-Road

Faith said...

I like your whispers and shouts. They are helpful. I still have a long way to go to even consider entering any kind of competition, but these are good guidelines to begin with.

I am interested in your class that starts Friday, but do not have access to my sewing machine (or much of anything else) for the next two or three weeks (remodeling/moving studio space in progress). Will you be offering this class again?

Elizabeth Barton said...

Hi Faith, yes the class will be offered again in the Fall...however the first two weeks are the development of designs and really pencil and paper is all that you'll need. So I think you'd actually be okay!

Mary Beth Frezon said...

This was just a wonderful and valuable post. Thank you so much for your honest, clear words and thoughts.

Mary Keasler said...

Thank you for an excellent lesson in shouts & whispers. Your thoughts are always inspirational and educational to me. Oh that I had the ability to erase the memory of a quilt that I just completed, so as to critique it more objectively.

elizabethdavisonquilts said...

I was at the conference and so enjoyed your remarks about jurying and Dominie's talk about her work. Your comments about a piece having a "point of view" was particularly interesting to me, and sparked conversations with my friends in the art quilt community, some of whom thought a point of view was not important. Sometimes the "point of view" or message in some of the "Art Quilt Elements" pieces hit you over the head,and didn't invite you in to explore the piece. I related more to those quilts with a more subtle message, as well of course, as those that were just gorgeous. The best ones were both gorgeous and had a message.