Friday, January 22, 2010


Q: I was recently disappointed by a rejection from a juried show. I was sure I had a good chance after seeing what others had brought in. It will be interesting to see what they hang.

A: Sorry to hear about your rejection. The odds are that you will be rejected more often than you will be accepted, no matter how good your work is. Some of this is simply luck. For instance, there may be more than 1000 entries. Sometimes there are many more. If you have submitted, say, a landscape, but there are 100 other landscapes before the jurors get to yours, they may be past the point where they simply don't want to accept any more landscapes. Or they may be visually exhausted by the time they get to yours. Looking at 400 images and making a decision about each one is hard work. Looking at four times that many leaves your eyes and brain spinning.

But that's just the way it goes. Not every top effort brings success. The best big league baseball player rarely gets on base more than four times out of ten. He scores a run something like less than 1 out of 15. When you count balls that he swings at and misses, that ratio probably drops to 1 out of 30.

Another reason artists are rejected when their work is up to par is that they fail to follow directions adequately.( I'm not saying that was true in your case, but it is something to be especially aware of.) Thus, their work never even gets seen by the jury. It is disqualified and the entry fee is kept. From the artist's point of view, this is unfair. But the organization simply doesn't have the time to deal with making the corrections or figuring out what the artist meant to do. And they can't take the chance of changing something, because the change might negatively affect the artist's entry and they would, rightly, be held responsible for it. So you always have to double check -- maybe even triple check -- the prospectus and what you are entering.

In general, entering juried shows should be approached as a learning experience, not a one-time stab. What kinds of shows do you do best with? What kinds of jurors (teachers, active artists, curators, painters, photographers, etc.). What particular jurors? Keep records and review them often.

And, good luck, always.

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