A friend asked me yesterday why she wasn't getting into local art shows when her paintings were actually much better than several that had been accepted. I went down to the show...and realised that the juror just didn't like traditional landscapes...everything she had chosen was about rawness, ugliness and distortion. Protest was another major theme. In fact she even expressed surprise in her remarks in the catalogue that landscapes were still being painted!!!
So I advised my friend that if she wanted to get in, she would need to change her subject matter. BUT, I felt strongly...that one should always make work (in whatever medium you use) about what is in your heart, what makes YOU glow or shimmer or weep or jump for joy.
And then I started thinking about my own work. when I first made art quilts, I was still a fairly new immigrant to the USA and still visiting my home town (York, UK) regularly and again walking and dreaming in the old Roman city with its medieval houses. It wasn't surprising that that became the subject of my quilts.
But ...this is not what is in my heart now.....now I live in a beautiful green oasis, a large garden, two lovely and intriguing parks close by, a university that prides itself on its landscaping....every window looks out onto amazing beautiful natural patterns of tree branches and leaves and sky. And it is so inspiring and uplifting... So....my art forthcoming will be about the trees, I want to make a quilt and several paintings of the photo at the head of this blog...and for the first time in ages...I can't wait to begin!!!
Follow your heart, said Joseph Campbell, many years ago....and he was right. Jurors who prefer the ugly - bedamned!!!
If you have been, thanks for reading! and do please comment! Oh yes! I will respond! and now my desires lead me to a nice cuppa tea....Elizabeth
Thank you for this post. I once painted wildlife and was refused by one group because I painted many kinds of animals and they told me my work was very good but I needed to "specialize" in only one. Just deer or just moose. Sigh. There is a TV show in Canada that is a competition for best portrait and one for best landscape. A handful of artists paint the same scene or have a sitter and at the end, about 4 people pick the 'best' one. Without fail, they always select those that look 1/4 finished or are really ugly. The other entries are usually eye-catching and stunning. I hope we never go there with quilts, but the art world does tend to be very subjective, so depending on the frame of reference of a judge, who knows what will win the ribbons.
I would recommend to your friend to find another place to show her work. That particular show is not about landscapes, but there are probably plenty that are.
Hi Elsie - yes those people who say the juror doesn't matter are ignoring many artists' experiences. Of course if the work is really bad, most jurors (but not all!) would reject it. But good work...well...it's a toss up as to whether it gets in or not. Thanks for writing again!! I do appreciate it....like you I love to both paint and quilt. Not macrame though!!!! Elizabeth
Hi Shasta, you make a very good point. I think we should have a show that focuses solely on local landscapes...I think that would be very very interesting....hmm...maybe I'll suggest it to the powers that be!
thank you! Elizabeth
Thanks for this post. I've been making landscapes for some years now (fabric, quilted)...and thank you too, Elizabeth, for all I learned in your Master Class. That said, when COVID hit last year, a major Art Show/Sale event for which I was chosen the Featured Artist (the first time ever that a textile artist was selected) was cancelled. And then a short summer residency was cancelled. My artistic mojo shut down altogether for a couple of months, and when it returned it was to abstract, improv piecing, trying to make order out of the chaos all around me and the rest of the world. I've made several of these pieces now, and a few more "traditional" pieces (a landscape, a still life). The show and the residency have been rebooked for this year but in my corner of the world the chance of another cancellation of both is hovering. The "traditional" stuff will be what most of the usual audience prefers -- and might even buy -- but the new stuff...time will tell. But it's where my heart is now.
Hi Margaret! good to hear from you...congrats on getting a show as Featured ARtist...and the possibility of a summer residency...
it is hard when a situation suddenly changes like that...but sometimes the down period leads to new ideas. I'm headed into something different too.
I hope the rebooked show will be a great success!!! and we need art, real art, in our homes...in stead of the blasted TV with all the bad news and propaganda! Thank you for writing. Elizabeth
This is actually why I stopped submitting work to the state fair. Whoever's judging for the last few years pre-pandemic wants tiny lacy projects and I'm not into making tiny lacy projects. I might as well save my money! Sometimes it can be pretty easy to figure out why you're being rejected, especially if it's one person's tastes alone.
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