Saturday, May 24, 2014

The one where I talk about Jurying

Memorial Day, 46 years and counting

Having a good time here in Boston.  It was rainy yesterday and chilly but I found a 20 year old jacket to wear.  Next project is to get myself into the closet and find the rest of my 20+ year old wardrobe and bag it up!  I am here such short times that dragging stuff with me isn't as much of a pain.  Plus I was chosen by TSA to be a non-check person and they even let me keep my shoes on the other day.  Apparently they pick randomly and they gave it to TY so he went in one line, and I was pissy and the woman told me to go ahead with him in the short line.  Loved it.  I now have to go fill out their online questionnaire and then show up for an in-person interview and pay their fee to be able to breeze through whenever I go anywhere.  Worth it.  I didn't have to take my computer out of the bag, didn't have to deal with 3 oz bottles, and there was no pat-down, which I usually get.  I felt like a human bean again!

Yesterday I went to my jurying job, then last night Mister joined us at a restaurant where he charmed the staff and all diners around us.  Granted he didn't want to have me hold him much but I got my sniffs in and felt his little velour clad baby chunk for awhile.  I'll go back and see him again.  Tonight is the wedding of our friend's daughter so we're getting fancy for that.  Tomorrow is free and I'm going to the Pilgrim Roy exhibit at the MFA, so I managed to have stuff to do just about every minute.  But I do feel sorry for my doggies back in the slammer.

One of my adventures being in Boston is jurying a show and I thought I might take this opportunity to talk about it.  I think we did a good job picking pieces that will work well in the gallery but I want to talk about some of the problems we encountered so perhaps it will give you a better chance of acceptance in the next show you might want to enter.  

Some pieces showed beautifully on the monitor we were using-  the images were high resolution and in focus.  They had background removed, or were photographed against white and cropped closely.  The details were the same colors and clarity as the full shot.  These successful entries might not have been professional, but the artists spent good time arranging and photographing their work, and preparing the images properly for the jury.  So first, my admonition is to pay close attention to your photography!  Put away the iPhone and use a real camera.  Set up proper lighting or go outside on a cloudy day.  Photograph straight on rather than from an angle.  Use a tripod or at least set the camera on a stable surface.  No fingers, no toes, no garage doors, no floors visible!  Don't use props either-  a vase of flowers might look great in front of your quilt in your living room but it hides what you're trying to show in a photograph!

Next, make sure all images of each piece are using the same title and artist's name.  I know this sounds dumb but 'Jones-Fields' doesn't read the same as 'Butterflies in the Field'.  It causes confusion when the second piece is 'Lilys of the Fields'.  It only takes a second to fix these and make sure they are presented correctly.  Other entries sent us into tizzies when they filled in '2' as number enclosed.  But they must have changed their minds because all we could find in the piles was one.  So, when you change your mind, make sure you change your info!

FOLLOW DIRECTIONS on the call for entries!  Yes, read them.  If it calls for putting your images and info on a CD, do so.  If it wants emailed images, do that.  If they use an entry site, go look at that, join, and follow their upload directions faithfully.  Check and recheck.  If you put your work on a CD, make sure you check it on another computer to make sure it is all formatted the way it is supposed to be.  (I'll never forget the call I got from a jury asking why I sent them a blank CD!)  I was lucky I wasn't disqualified off the bat.  Oh yes, next-  put that CD in a hard case, put that case in a padded envelope! The hard case alone won't protect it from the USPS.  Don't forget accurate measurements!

Now I need to talk a bit about appropriateness of entries.  If you make the most beautiful and intricate appliqué quilts from traditional patterns it really doesn't work in an art quilt show.  Send it quickly to a quilt show and you will rake in the awards.  If you have a piece with amazing machine quilting, that's wonderful BUT the quilting doesn't win you an acceptance on an uninteresting quilt.  Conversely, a great design with rudimentary quilting might be rejected.  If you have a great design sense, sophisticated color palette, and interesting content, bad quilting stitches can be the only thing the jury sees.  Work on those aspects where you need to improve, or modify your plan-  sometimes a masterful row of hand quilting trumps all the fussy all over machine patterns you can muster.  

Usually artists names are not on the jury sheets and it's anonymous.  Actually this time names were available, but we really didn't pay attention to them.  I really don't know who is in and will probably recognize some of the work when I see it in person.  The point I'm making is that we were looking for the best of the entries, NOT getting a stable of artists work that we felt obliged to take.

Two more things and I'll call it a day-  many of the quilts we saw had wide and inappropriate borders.  WTF???  Art quilts don't necessarily need borders, or the border treatment can be something new and different.  Generally the border is supposed to enhance the quilted piece, not overwhelm it.  Simplify!  Adding a big border to match a size requirement on a small piece for a show is just silly.  And in the same vein, (big sigh) bindings---  If you want a traditional binding, learn how to make it perfectly.  There are tutorials everywhere.  Just because it's an art quilt and 'anything goes', there is no excuse for poor craftsmanship.  Bone up on perfect bindings-  they should be perfectly equal on all sides, they should meet and make 90 degree corners (usually!).  No 'ears' (pointy corners at odd angles) are acceptable, nor are rounded corners.  There are alternatives-  you can make a wider facing and take it to the back to sew down.  You can make a pillowcase backing and take it all to the back.  This works great if you sew all around the four sides and slash a long enough piece in the back to pull the whole thing outside-in.  Don't forget to slash off the corners before you turn it. Then you can tack the slash closed and cover it with the sleeve.  No binding.  Several pieces used a simple satin stitch around the edge, some more successfully than others.  This is forgivable on really small pieces but still attention has to be paid that the stitches are completely closing over the edges.  If it looks like a zig zag, it's not working.  Again, maybe some more practice to improve the look.

(I'm almost done here) I'm really looking forward to seeing the show hung-  I am always surprised at how the pieces change from what we think they are in the images to what they really are in the flesh! A few years ago a piece was juried into a show that I loved, in fact it was my juror's choice.  Imagine my shock when I saw what I imagined to be a small piece as a 6' square on the wall!  Since there wasn't a size requirement in the show, it wasn't a problem but it sure overpowered everything around it!  A jury surprise!

Hope this helps somebody who is new to the process.  Please, feel free to ask any questions or voice concerns you might have.  (Except whether you got in or not-  I really don't know!)

(Back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow, or maybe the next day, whatevah!  

1 comment :

Mary Beth Frezon said...

You know, I think I've been hearing about not putting flowers or feet into photos for quilt show submissions ever since I first saw an entry form. That's totally amazing.