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Jurors and Rejection

by David P. Hettinger on 10/10/2014 7:23:08 AM

This post is by guest author, David P. Hettinger.  This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here. We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community.  If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 25,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  This author's views are entirely his own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.


Most every artist has experiences of not having their work accepted into competitions, exhibitions and galleries. Most call these notices of not being accepted "rejection" slips. Is there a difference between 'not being accepted' and 'being rejected'?


The fact is they have the same results - your work did not get into the exhibition. 'Rejection' is a harsh word and by thinking one has been rejected, it stings a bit more. In 50 years of attempts to get into exhibitions, I never received a rejection notice - I have, however, received plenty of "Sorry your work was NOT accepted."


Why the pickiness over the wording of being informed one's work did not make it into an exhibition or gallery? The idea of being rejected is a bit harder to take than being told your artwork wasn't accepted. Rejection is taken more personally; one tends to blame poor jurying and judges with grudges or agendas.


I've served on lots of juries for both local and national art exhibitions. It isn't an easy task narrowing 3,000 entries down to 200, or even 135 in a few cases. Before online jurying, one had to travel to where the jurors met, spend a night in a motel at your own expense, spend the next two days going over all the entries again and again. Then, to be totally sure, going over those unaccepted works one last time. If it makes one feel good to blame the jurors and judges, then one may do so, but in all the years I've served on juries I have yet to meet a juror or judge with a grudge or an agenda... 





Editor's Note:  You can view David's original post here.


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Marsha Hamby Savage
Love this language difference. I tell all my students in posts about "not being accepted" and the difference I feel by using those words. I have been a juror and judge and also know how difficult the task is. Saying you were "rejected" ... wrong! It is not rejection, just selection!

Kerry Dexter
Well said, Marsha --"It is not rejection, just selection! "
I've been on the judge and juror side of things as well in both art and writing, so David I know your points are well taken too.
Judging, especially when there a number of levels and/or judges involved, is often inscrutable.

Karen Burnette Garner
You make some very good points. Often jurors are putting together a cohesive exhibit when they select pieces for a show. There are a lot of reasons outside of the excellence of a work that determine selection, or non-acceptance. It really comes down to the judge's preferences -- or not. Thanks for a positive perspective.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Hello David.

I like what Marsha said.."It is not rejection,just selection!"

I dislike having to write this, but in a perfect world what you say is true about having yet to meet an impartial judge or juror. That is great!
However, in an imperfect world it is not always true. It can and does happen. Thankfully not a lot.

Yes, it is nice to read the positive side. But . . .
When or if another artist happens to be a juror or judge and you have had problems with that person/artist... well, when that judge or juror sees your work, they can already be predisposed with a certain point of view. In short, he or she is biased.

Sure, it is not professional and they should excuse themself from juroring when that happens.
But, they usually don't. That judge or juror is fighting against psychological circumstances. Can they overcome that? Not always.

Anyway, I have seen that predisposed point of view in action. Basically in local competitions or art shows.
And, it is not always sour grapes for the artist(s)it happens to.
The artist(s) it happens to cannot and does not say anything because they don't wish to be frowned upon...and who would believe them?

There are, at times, things behind the scenes that others don't know about.

I agree though, jurors or judges are on the whole wanting to be fair and impartial, thank goodness.

David Hettinger
Sandy I am sure you have encountered bias in small local shows. These days there are thousands of local shows and they are juried by inexperience artist who may or may not have an agenda. In the professional realm of shows and competitions there checks and balances. For most of the exhibitions I have dealt with there are more than one juror and more than one judge. With the internet jurors may never meet each other. Now as many as seven jurors rate each work of art with a point system. Should one juror rate a piece low while the other six rate that work high the one rating that piece low has to post their reason for doing so.
My post about judges and jurors was in response to a post by an artist who blames all the jurors and judges of having bias for his not being accepted into any major shows or galleries. This artist admits they have never gone to any of the exhibition and looked at the work that was accepted into those exhibition.
Too many times the artist blames the juror and never takes a look at what was accepted into a show.

John Patrick weiss
There is a broader context here. In my professional life I frequently encounter people incapable of receiving constructive criticism. Be it performance reviews or feedback on how to improve, some folks are defensive and unwilling to self evaluate. Are there unfair bosses and art judges? Sure. But I beleive the path towards excellence requires one to be open to criticism, which can be a gift if it moves you to improve and propel your work forward.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Hello David..

Thank you for getting back to me on this subject matter. I have great respect for the judges and jurors. They have a tough job to do. I have been a judge or juror using the point system.

I think if an artist continually receives rejections, then it is time to re-evaulate their work. At least get to the exhibit and see what was juried into the show.

I am in awe of the great work that is out there. This makes it even harder for the judging, especially when only a certain number of works can be accepted.

BTW, Your work is among that great work that I am in awe of...along with other artists who have replied to your post. My gosh..incredible works out there.

Donald Fox
Here's a similar thought. As a longtime teacher (English, Art, Psychology, Speech), it has been my job to assess and critique (judge) students' work. Granted there is a feedback loop involved, but students are being graded on what they do and do not accomplish. Usually there is a rubric (set of standards) students are expected to meet and are assessed accordingly. Most judges or jurors for art shows have an internalized rubric by which they judge work. This is their judgment based on their perception, learning, and experience. It is always more instructive to ask how can I improve rather than complain about being criticized. That may be tough to do when so emotionally attached to expressive work, but learning isn't guaranteed always to be fun and uplifting - enlightening, yes.

Brian Sherwin
It is not uncommon for me to observe artists complaining about art competitions online. I find examples of that on Facebook often. Nine times out of ten one can assume that it is because the artist did not place. Would the same artist praise the competition had he or she been placed? Probably. There is valid criticism about art competitions 'out there'... but most of it boils down to pure frustration over others being chosen.

I will say this... one should take time to research the juror(s). What kind of art does the juror create? What kind of art has he or she selected in past competitions? Has the juror written about art in the past? If so, what art view did he or she project within the article? Finding answers to these questions may help the artist to make an informed decision before entering a competition.

Marsha Hamby Savage
Brian, that is very good advice. I always look at the work a juror chooses for a show before entering that show. It is not that I think they aren't capable of doing a good job, but having been a juror I know we try to be fair by having a system (I have used a criteria that gives a number rating between 1 and 5 to each of up to 10 items). But when it comes down to choosing between two paintings, with the same accumulated "numbers" given for various criteria, then the heart makes the decision. That is when the juror's own likes come into the equation.

Marsha Hamby Savage
And, I should have said, I decide based on this, how to spend my money and what show makes the most sense to me.

Sharon Weaver
Being a judge puts an entirely different spin on those competitions. It is never an easy job and every judge does their best to pick the paintings that have the most merit. If more artists where judges they would see how tough it is. It has taught me to be more understanding of the process and not cast blame if there are paintings I don't think are that great that get into a show but mine do not. There are so many variables that it just isn't worth the effort to try and figure it out. I try to take the rejection in stride and move on.


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