Entering juried exhibitions
The process of juried exhibitions is still a mystery to me, and I am curious if anyone has insights into the process of jurying a show.
From my basic understanding, a juror, be it an artist or curator, views all the work (either in person or digitally), and selects a variety of pieces to build a cohesive yet diverse show of high quality. Of course this is subjective and any given juror will select different pieces. What I am wondering are more detailed aspects of the selection process.
Is the juror made aware that several pieces belong to the same artist? Is the artist's name given? The title? Does this vary on the juror's preference in jurying? I'd imagine that these small details could have quite the effect on the selection. I have seen photographers get two or more pieces into a single show, some similar, some not. This is just fine, but I wonder about the behind the scenes.
One thing I am wondering the most, for selfish reasons I suppose, is the importance of submitting pieces that work together. I don't necessarily stick to the same subject or style all the time. A certain body of work might work together, but I don't like being restricted to photographing the same kind of stuff the same way all the time. Do you think it hurts an entrant to submit pieces of varying styles? If the juror does know that the pieces belong to the same artist, will they view it as they would an uncohesive portfolio? From my point of view, it would simply be to include a range of my work to have a better chance, but I could see how this could potentially hurt my chances. Am I thinking too hard about this?
This might be a lot of discussion for something that is so subjective. Maybe I should just submit whatever I like, no matter how different it is. In any case, if anyone has insights, I'd love to hear them. Thanks.
I fear the answer is "it depends." I know of one show in this area that asks for "a body of work" and as such means a set of shots that are related or somehow work together. In that particular show, I believe helpers keep all the pieces by one entrant together for the jurying. Other shows may judge pieces individually and not care if one is a portrait and one a landscape.
As to anonymity, usually the names are ignored, some shows actually hide them during the judging process. But especially with paintings, they can't be hidden very well. The other phenomenon is that if the juror is a local person, they are likely to recognize the artist's work anyway. Even a trifler like myself can spot the work of some artists from halfway across the room when I visit some of the local shows.
Sometimes there is a theme specified. Right at the moment I have info for a show that accepts painting and photography. This one is being held at the historic estate of John James Audubon. The show is titled "Drawn from Nature" and there is a paragraph:
Which actually might not be all that restrictive. Generally the sponsoring organization gives some instructions and information to the jurors, about any themes, quantity that can be accepted due to hanging space limitations or awards, but beyond that it's pretty much the judge's ballgame.
THEME: NATURE AND/OR WILDLIFE. The shared mission of the John James Audubon Center and the Valley Forge Audubon Society is: to inspire people to appreciate, preserve and protect birds, other wildlife, and their habitat; to promote personal appreciation and stewardship of the local natural environment through education and active participation in its preservation; and to preserve the artis-tic, scientific, and historic legacy of John James Audubon and celebrate the conservation movement he inspired. The theme of this art show follows from the above ideas. Images should in some way feature, with or without human presence, some aspect of birds, wildlife and/or nature; and/or the impact of birds, wildlife, nature, or man on a past, present or future environment.
I am heavily entangled in a group that puts on several shows for painting, sculpture and photos each year, so I've seen some of this from the "other side." It is not all that rare to have a juror that has some axe to grind and tosses out some gorgeous pieces that don't meet his imagined personal goal of the moment. So yes, sometimes the target is a show with a large diversity of work, but there was a thread here a few years back about what was supposed to be a totally open, diverse show that wound up looking like it was themed as portraits and people, because some hotshot juror from a studio in NYC apparently didn't like anything else as a subject.
I have also seen jurors try to accept one piece from as many artists as possible, even if some artists' second pieces were better than some of the accepted work. In other words they tried to get the maximum number of artists into the show. One can make a case for that, but one can make a case the other way too. The group I belong to requests there be only one cash award per artist to spread the prizes a little too.
My usual counsel is to think of it as a lottery, but you have to bring a picture.
Here's another show, all photography, coming up, if you want to see an example prospectus. This one generally has only about 15% of submitted work accepted. Over its years it has become more and more digital, with a few fairly far out manipulated items showing up from time to time. They don't get very specific about that.
Last edited by DWThomas; 02-08-2011 at 12:10 AM. Click to view previous post history.
In my experience, one views the work with a list of gradable points. The images have no identifying names. The judges then sit down and add the scores from each and discuss the merits if there is a tie (so to speak). Usually there is a pre determined number of works that will be accepted.
We all bring our personal taste to the table and altho, we try to be as fair as possible, if you happened to submit something that really hits the Hot button for a judge it is going to get a lower score. It is really a lottery.
It may help if you know who the judges might be and something about their background and personal preferences.
Most of the shows I enter allow 2 pieces to be submitted for one entry fee, and are not "themed." Most of the time the 2 pieces that I enter are from the same body of work, but that is because those tend to be my strongest pieces. Most of the time 1 piece is accepted, the other rejected, even though in my opinion (which I realize does not count for anything in jurying a show) both are very strong. This leads me to believe that jurors try to accept as many artists as possible. Sometimes I think the juror rejected the stronger of my 2 entries. If there is any sort of trend that I can see in which of my pictures are accepted, it is that an abstract style is more likely to be accepted than a literal representation of the subject. But in general, I think that there is too much subjectivity in jurors and jurying a show to try to figure out a magic formula for getting work accepted. Submit your absolute best work, presented as good as you can make it appear.
Our Artists Association (http://www.livingstonfineart.com/) holds a juried show each year. You can submit a maximum of four pieces per person, in your choice of seven or eight categories. All mediums are accepted without differentiation. As said above, it then becomes judges choice. The judge is left alone to state the awards. In our case, all pieces are hung – in some shows, only the judges choices are hung.
You can’t let your feelings get hurt, as judges are people, with all their likes, dislikes, hang ups, etc. I don’t take it seriously (unless I win and award – then it’s very serious!). A different judge may pick completely different pieces – after all, art is subjective.
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While the pieces may be viewed with the name and title, etc., the judges rarely look at one submission as a whole, rather, they look at each individual image to determine which are chosen. I was just accepted into a juried show, but only one out of five submitted.
Thanks for the helpful replies (and congrats Greg on getting accepted).
In the end, I usually submit whatever I like best, and what I would be proud to display. I was listening to a great webinar on creating online photo portfolios, and the speaker was a photo editor. She mentioned how important it was to have cohesion. She showed an example of a site where a photographer had a great series documenting personal circumstances in his life, but that he had another set of photos of random sports shots, etc. Now, this was focused on editorial photography, but she said it threw her off to see these other photos.
I just wonder under the circumstances that a juror is aware that the 5 photos he looks at in a group belong to one photographer (and they would never work together as a series), if he would feel less inclined to consider accepting one, since it showed a lack of artistic vision and focus. Like some of you say, it could just depend on the circumstances.
For me, I am considering entering photos taken with both my Hasselblad and my Holga. I love each, but the style is obviously different. I just don't want to send 5 photos from the same roll or series.