I recently received an email from an artists who is part of a 4 person art support group. The group had compiled a list of juried exhibitions they felt were important for your career. The woman mentioned that the group had been represented in all of these shows but that she had not yet "broken the code" for being accepted into any of them. She asked if I had any advice.
My response was hopefully honest and helpful. I suggested that you just have to keep working, make the best work you can make, do the unexpected but do it well, only seek advice (or criticism) from people you deem make much better work than you and people who have your best interest in mind.
I think those are honest suggestions but something did occur to me that is important concerning juried shows that I haven't really thought about before. People talk about shows being "a lottery" or worse and I do think it's true that you can never be sure or overly confident about what a particular juror will choose to recognize but if there is a show that you are repeatedly rejected from you might consider who is selecting the jurors? If the same person selects the jurors for a particular show year after year, or if a show seems to always have a particular type of work (a type you don't do) it may be because the person inviting the jurors is expressing their tastes and their preferences through who they choose for this important job. This could be true and very intentional or it could be true without being intentional.
In my opinion shows that are sponsored by museums and galleries are perhaps more likely to have this issue. The director or staff may be in charge of choosing jurors while shows sponsored by membership organizations have committees which are ever changing thus allowing more opinions and ideas about jurors. This is just another factor you might consider when making your show entries.
I want to add one other thought which is a little off topic but related to juried shows. Just recently I read a thread online about the issue of work being damaged while on display in a juried show. One person commented that they only show in galleries or museums and questioned why anyone would even bother to enter juried shows. I found that very interesting.
So why do we enter juried shows? They are expensive. We often don't even get to see the shows. I don't think there are huge sales in these shows. So why?
1. People just starting out don't have galleries and museum's often aren't interested.
2. Fiber work (especially quilts) are often not shown in galleries and museums unless there is some extenuation aura....Gees Bend Quilters.
3. College and University galleries might show your work if you can get someone's attention but they often prefer that you have credentials.....BFA, MFA
4. It's a good way to introduce yourself to your peers outside of your local area. Networking can get you invitations to places you never even knew existed!
5. Many juried shows produce catalogs which are purchased not only at the show but online thus widening the area of those who might see your work.
6. Prize money. OK, this is only for a few of the entrants but it's fun when it happens.
7. Acknowledgement. Having your work reviewed by a panel of quality jurors can be supportive when your work is accepted and give you pause to review what you are doing if you are rejected. (doesn't mean you need to change anything but at least you get a different opinion)
8. It's fun also but I do think there is a limit to the number of times you can be in a show and still be thrilled by the experience. Trying new shows is a good thing.
So thank you to the artists who wrote me and thanks to her small group for giving one another support.
Happy Thanksgiving and pass the cranberry sauce.
Thanks for spending time at
Comments are always welcome.