The jury system is an interesting and humbling process. I witnessed the action today during the Ohio Arts Council’s Individual Excellence Awards jurying. I had submitted my gut work in the crafts category and was sort of holding my breath as the awards are in the thousands of dollars.

As an observer, we could take in the proceedings but could not make any comments or ask questions. We were treated to images of a wide range of work: metals, glass, jewelry, quilting, ceramics, wood, weaving – some serious, some humorous, some traditional, some very out-of-the-box, all of it well crafted.

My submission was deleted during the first round. So much for thinking I have quality work! I know the quality of my images was up to par – I’ve got a great photographer who does a super job. But the order of the images was not the best – it is hard to imagine how they will look as they are shown three at a time – and I don’t think my work is as ‘polished’ as a lot of the others. That’s my initial deduction from getting cut – I’ll have to think about it a bit more.

The jurors didn’t make any comments during the first three rounds of voting, so it is hard to know the exact reasons why some work was rejected and others kept in. When they started discussions during the 4th round, it was interesting to hear what caught their attention. I captured some of their comments and thoughts:

– dont’ necessarily like the pieces but I respect the work involved – complex image – texture surprise – body of work is important to show a complete look, to show growth – narrative within the piece – stimulating, makes me think – challenging, edgy – intellectual and personal – letting the ordinary become more/something else – the images shown together need to work together

If nothing else, this gives me something to think about when I hit the studio next. Of course, the next time I submit will be with different jurors and different competition. No guarantees on anything.

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