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Saturday, December 31, 2011

What is a Juried Art Exhibit?

WHAT IS A JURIED ART EXHIBIT?

    A juried art exhibit is an exhibit in which judges decide which pieces of art are included in the show, as well as which pieces receive awards.

WHO JUDGES THE MAA JURIED ART EXHIBIT?  WHAT ARE THEIR QUALIFICATIONS?

    We hire different judges every year.  We require them to be professionals,  which means they should  have a degree in art, and they must earn their living in the art field.  Some may earn their living solely from selling their creations, while others may be art teachers, or directors of a gallery, museum or arts council.  We expect them to be proficient in creating art in at least one of the media that we exhibit, and knowledgeable about all the other media.  They can not be MAA members, and they shouldn’t live in Massena.  (We want them to live close enough to have a reasonable distance to drive in February, but far enough so they don’t know many of our exhibitors.)

DO THEY GET PAID FOR JUDGING THE SHOW?

    They receive a small stipend, plus we buy their lunch on the day they are here.  They’re really doing us a favor by agreeing to judge, because they could earn more by spending the day in their studio than they do by coming here.

WHAT ARE THE JUDGES LOOKING FOR?

    That’s the $64,000 question.  Every judge is different.  Some of the factors they consider may be composition, skillful use of the materials, use of color, perspective, accuracy, creativity and originality.  Some may value using classic technique for each medium, while others may value the creative use of those same media.  Most insist on accurate perspective, but some find primitive work charming.  One judge may reject a piece, while next year’s judge may give it an award.  They will usually ignore or reject a piece if they suspect it’s not the artist’s original work.  (See page 2, “Original Art.”)  Since the majority of our artists do realistic work, we attempt to find judges who prefer to work in that genre themselves.

WHAT IF YOU DISAGREE WITH THEIR DECISIONS?

    The decision of the judges is final.  They’re the professionals.  We never try to override them, whether we agree with them or not.  There are usually some decisions that we wonder about, but we always accept them.

SO YOU DON’T TRY TO INFLUENCE THEM AT ALL?

    We give them guidelines, primarily about the amount of display space we have available, and how many pieces we have room to hang.  We ask them to accept as many pieces as possible. 
And we ask them to be lenient with work submitted by children.

Original Art

    ORIGINAL ART

    All work submitted to the Massena Artists Association’s Annual Juried Art Exhibit must be original.  So just what do we mean by “original art.?”

    Essentially, it means that you, the artist, must be the sole creator of the work.  The composition of the piece must be yours, and you must also produce the work.

    There was a controversy at a recent exhibit when a copy of a Bob Ross painting received an award.  Although it was attractive and very skillfully produced, it was not the artist’s original composition, and many feel that it should not have been considered for an award. 

Are “program paintings” original art?

    No.  There are several talented artists who have produced interesting and informative TV programs on art.  Many give step-by-step directions on how to reproduce their original compositions.  It is possible to buy books, videos, and DVD’s that allow the student to follow the steps at their own pace.  No matter how skillful you become, if you produce artwork by this method, it’s not your original work, and should not be entered in a juried show. 

What about class projects?

    Maybe.  It depends on the class.  There are instructors who become certified by the TV artists to teach their specific methods.  If you have taken a class where the instructor leads you step-by-step through the production of a copy of his work, (or of the TV artist’s work) then the product is not your original composition, and should not be entered..

    However, if the instructor demonstrates certain techniques, then tells you to paint something using that technique, the product is your own creation.  Even if he sets up a still life for you to paint, or tells you, “paint that birch tree in the yard,” you still make many decisions about the composition, the paints you use, how to mix the paints, how much of the background to include, etc.  Everyone in the class will have a different interpretation of the same subject, and you will all have original paintings, even though they are similar.

What about reference material?

    It depends.  Very few artists know enough about animal anatomy to paint an animal without looking either at the animal or at a good photo of one.  Unless you paint outdoors,  you probably will  need reference material to paint a particular scene or building.  If you’re using a photo you took yourself, there’s no problem.  But don’t make a copy of someone else’s work, whether it’s a famous painting, or a pretty picture you found on a calendar.  Copying someone else’s work may be a helpful learning tool for students, and if you like the product, you may hang it on your own wall.  But it’s not acceptable to claim it as your own work, or to enter it in a juried art exhibit.