American Women Artists invited me to help jury their 2020 Spring Online Show, along with AWA members Nadine Robbins and Tonya Turner Carroll. The jury process happened March 17 through 19. Over 1,350 pieces of art were submitted by AWA Associate and Associate with Distinction members.
Pandemic Crushes Our World
In mid-March the Covid-19 pandemic was just becoming a national crisis. Nearly all the national art shows to which I apply were either cancelled or postponed for 5 months. My artistic world seemed to vanish in 3 sad days. This was my context going into the scoring process for the AWA show.
Art is to Share
While viewing these hundreds of art works, I was struck by a remarkable feeling of joy. The experience of seeing the art submissions lifted my spirit and brightened my day. I was reminded that art is very necessary to our lives. It connects us more than words—images bring us together. I was mourning the loss of potential markets for my sculpture due to the evaporation of show venues. I remembered another side of art that is sharing what you do with others, unconnected to sales.
The jury process was really fun because it made me think about what makes great art. There were so many very good aspects to the art. Ultimately, I needed to score each piece, and my criteria became conscious after the first 50 submissions.
This is a competition—1,350 works of art competing for 125 slots in the show. The high quality of the submissions raised the bar for my decisions because so many were terrific and successful works. I was heartened and humbled by the quality of work of our Associate Members and Associate Members with Distinction, to whom this show is dedicated. AWA is a world-class group of artists.
My Personal Judging Criteria
I gave every piece of art a 7 out of 7 points if it met all my criteria for a successful piece. Those criteria include excellent draftsmanship, excellent design and composition, excellent use of color, visible sensitivity for the subject, and transcendence from the source material. One should find the soul of the artist in the work. I believe I scored over 150 works with a 7.
I also scored many art pieces with a 1. Draftsmanship was the huge factor that prompted me to give a 1. Every piece submitted to the show had very good things going for it. But, if the drawing was not solid, I could not give a higher score.
In some works the source material was too obvious—I do not want to see or feel the photo research in the finished art. I want to see the vision of the artist, the feelings of the artist for her subject, and how the artist wants me as viewer to see and feel her vision. This means getting deeper into the subject than the ability to copy a source photo into another artistic medium.
Style and Rhythm
Confident technique also played a strong role in my decisions. I want to see the artist own her style and approach to her medium. I want to see her particular language of forms, shapes, and color. The texture of the brush stroke, the palette knife, the stick of chalk have a meaning for the artist and give meaning to the art—this can be smooth, gradients, scumbled lines, anything. What I want is to have the feeling that the artist is telling me something about her subject and her life experience.
Rhythm is another important aspect of art. As a sculptor, rhythm and design are the life breath. Sculptors and painters must be masters of benevolent manipulation and show the viewer where to look, when to look there, as well as how to feel about it. A piece of art is a journey for the eye, if the artist chooses to make it so. I always look for the journey I am being invited to take. If it is not there, or evident in some way, I do not feel confident of the art or the artist.
There are probably more criteria that went into my decisions that I am not able to articulate. After all the academic stuff there is the feeling, and how does one write about that with any depth and clarity?
Link to the Show
Here is the link to the 2020 Spring Online Juried Show presented by American Women Artists:
Associate Members and Associate Members with Distinction created the art. It is a delight, please enjoy!