Three quilts that I entered into Quilt National and Fiber Arts International last year did not get in. Those three same quilts got into Art=Quilts=Art and Art Quilt Expressions.
So what does that mean?Unfortunately not much.
It means that any exhibit, good, bad, or indifferent is subjective. You can not factor out personal taste, nor should one, but getting into an exhibit does not mean that a piece is good or bad. It means that the jurying committee just did not recognize it.
Now don't get me wrong... I am delighted to have gotten entries in these two shows, and I do not in any way devalue Quilt National for not accepting my pieces. But honestly, in my heart I know that these three quilts ARE good. I do not really need a ribbon to tell me that (although it sure is nice). I knew when they were not accepted by QN that it did not diminish the quality or integrity in the least.... because these pieces spoke to me, they are very much a part of me, and they came from me in an honest deliberate way.
I can't say that for every piece that I create. Some are nice technically, but leave me cold emotionally. Some are emotionally charged but lack excellent composition. Some pieces are in development, and some pieces will probably never impart the kind of reaction from others that I experience.
But my Anxiety series and my newer Conflict series work for me. And even though I was disappointed at getting a rejection letter from QN, I know in my heart of hearts that they accomplished what I set out to accomplish.
Where does that leave me? A bit confused because if I really feel that way, why enter competitions at all? I think the answer lies in the fact that I am finally finally ready to have my work, or at least some of my work, seen. I am finally comfortable that my work will not be recognized for anyone else's work, it will not be seen as derivative, and I guess I feel that if someone decides to use my ideas- either intentionally or unintentionally, my originality will not be questioned. And that my friends does matter to me. A whole big bunch.
Like so many students in the beginning of their journeys, I mimicked the style of those I admired- most notably Ms. Crow. I have my 2 or 3 "Crow" quilts that are carefully stashed away where no one will see them, but that is where it started and ended. I have deliberately NOT looked at stashes of magazines and books while I was developing my voice, since I did not want to see anyone but me in my work. And now, I finally feel comfortable that I am mirrored in the pieces I create. And that is why I enter quality exhibitions. I want my art to be seen in suitable venues.
Perhaps one of the best parts of AQA was hearing the remarks by the juror Lasse Antonsen. His concluding words which resonated with me:
I would like to conclude the way I always do with my graduate students, by mentioning that official honors and official success is not necessarily related to artist achievement and most importantly, to why we, as individuals, engage in the making of works of objects, of works of art. For that, just as in personal relationships, only we can be the judge. And remember, always be kind to yourself! And as I mentioned earlier, always keep trying to find ways to get yourself out of the way!