Hang It Up
By Carol Woodin
Originally appeared in The Botanical Artist – Volume 16, Issue 1
In selecting artworks for ASBA exhibitions, we have attempted to make the process as fair and open as possible. Submissions come in from experienced artists, newcomers and everyone in-between. We want each piece judged on its own merits, and we hope to showcase the best botanical artwork being created.
Our jurying process is a blind numerical system: artworks are numbered, no artists’ names are given, and artworks are scored numerically. Each juror can give an artwork a score of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. Some exhibitions have broad score spreads, some more narrow, depending upon the viewpoints of the individual jurors. Artworks are scored upon three criteria: botanical accuracy, technical mastery, and aesthetic quality.
Each year the Exhibitions Committee re-examines our policies, and a perennial issue is the number of artworks accepted by one artist. We did disallow including three works from one artist, however we do allow two works by one artist. The Committee believes that since jurors are engaged for their professionalism, we should allow them some autonomy to choose what they believe are the best works among the submissions.
If during the course of the jurying, it becomes evident the team has selected more than one work by a given artist, the jurors are informed. This gives the team an opportunity to release one of the works and choose another artist. Sometimes they choose another artist’s work, but sometimes they like the works so much they keep both.
It is very enlightening (participants tell me) to participate in juror training at the annual meetings, as which works are chosen is a result of at least 3 sometimes very different opinions. I am sure we will revisit this issue each year as long as we have exhibitions, as we consider all suggestions we receive regarding selection criteria.
One belief that we often hear is that, “the same artists always get in.” I can tell you from experience, no one is assured of being accepted. Some of the best artists working today have been rejected at least once. In order to learn what the actual statistics tell us, I ran the numbers from the three international juried exhibitions we had this year. My memory goes back pretty far, but perfect accuracy is not guaranteed!
- Six artists were accepted into all three exhibitions. Of these, four have been exhibiting for 3 years or less, and two have been included in 5 or more previous exhibitions.
- Eighteen artists were accepted into two exhibitions. Of these, three artists were first time exhibitors, and two have been included in 5 or more previous exhibitions.
- Fifty-five artists were included in one exhibition this year. Twenty-five of these have never had a work chosen for an ASBA juried international, and five have been included five or more times.
Our juried international exhibitions showcase a mix of artists, some being frequently accepted, some having never been accepted before and some being accepted occasionally. This year about 20 of the artists included in these exhibitions were first-time exhibitors in an ASBA international event, and about 10 have been juried into more than five previous exhibitions. The remaining 70 artists are somewhere in between. I hope this is always the case, as we strive to welcome and showcase new work of high quality as well as show some of the standard-bearers of the genre. Ultimately, the ASBA strives to present the best work, as each exhibition is an opportunity to introduce a new audience to contemporary botanical art.