Juried Artist Member (Guidelines)
Probably more than any other single reason, most rejected Juried Artist Member applications are denied because the committee feels the submitted works do not present a consistent body of work.
A consistent body of work is a group of pieces that hang together and are clearly by the same hand. There should be a consistently clear, distinct and unique voice, in a style that does not look like, or seem derived from another artist’s work. It is the style—that is the artistic approach—that must be consistent. Simply unifying otherwise unrelated styles of work by theme does not constitute a consistent voice. (This is the goal of an exhibition, when many artists show how their different styles address the same theme.) If you are showing the committee a “wide range of styles”, in fact you are telling them that you have not yet settled on a style you can call your own.
The first step in creating a consistent body of work is to find your voice—that is, to establish your own working style. Only then can you produce a group of pieces that express your singular artistic position. Finding your voice is not a quick and easy exercise, it involves self examination and self discovery, along with experimentation and development of a clear, strong direction. Some things to think about:
- Ask yourself what you enjoy in the process and what you would like to let go.
- Develop an expertise in the techniques that inspire you and eliminate those that you feel are holding you back.
- Think about fabric choices—are you more comfortable with commercial fabrics? Patterns or solids? Hand dyeing your own fabric?
- Do you want to include surface design and/or embellishment?
- Are your colors consistent with your voice? This does not mean you must always work in the same colors, but whether your color selections are subdued pastels or strong saturated colors can change the look of your work, and the impact they have as a consistent body of work.
- What do you want your work to say; do you wish to make a political statement? Express the tranquility of nature? Examine the inner workings of human emotions? Do you want your work to appear serious or whimsical? Subdued or full of movement? What motivates you? What do you want people to take away after seeing your work?
- Consider working in a series, this will allow you to examine and explore different aspects of your subject and techniques in order to help you determine what you want to continue to develop.
Only after you have established a voice that embodies your unique artistic vision, can you begin to build a body of work. All the pieces should appear to be from the same hand, make the same statement, and utilize the same technique or combination of techniques that form the thread throughout the “body” of work. Presenting a cohesive and consistent group of pieces for Juried Artist Member consideration requires that you edit your existing pieces with the following criteria in mind:
- Are your techniques similar in all ten pieces? Combining works created using primarily a different technique rarely works simply because they all have the same subject matter.
- Keep in mind the age of the pieces. A great work from 5 years ago is likely to appear out of place with your current work as we all evolve over time.
- Are the materials/colors dramatically different amongst the pieces in the group? If you work mainly in primary colors but include one or two pieces in subdued, earth tones, this will not look cohesive. The same goes for working with mainly solid fabrics versus highly patterned ones.
- Do all ten pieces make the same statement, set the same mood?
When all else fails, have someone else look at your body of work and see if anything stands out as different from the rest. Many artists find it helpful to have professional critique of their work to help them establish a direction.
Thinking outside the box
It has been our experience that many applicants whose applications are denied due to an inconsistent body of work, complain to us that the committee doesn’t understand they are “thinking outside the box.”
“Thinking outside the box” means to reinvent the way an art medium is approached, and to discover a way of working that is different from what other artists are doing; it does not mean reinventing yourself with each new piece. It is not enough to try something new, the idea must be fine-tuned, nurtured and developed until it reaches its pinnacle. Thinking outside the box does not preclude producing a consistent body of work.
Applying for Juried Artist Member status is no different from entering a juried show. It would not be prudent to enter three pieces with entirely different styles to a show, as that would give the jurors the impression that your art is “all over the place” and any successful piece submitted might have been a happy accident. When applying for Studio Artist Member status you are simply being asked to edit the pieces you submit so that you present a clear and cohesive group of pieces. No one means to suggest that you should stop experimenting, challenging and pushing the envelope in your work. The committee wants to see work that falls outside of the standard treatments and techniques, but those pieces must hang together as a group with a thread of connection. They want to see that you can edit your work in a way that allows you to show them a series of pieces that tell the same story, explore a theme, or are connected by color and/or technique. Showing them ten unrelated pieces only tells them that you are still looking for your artistic point of view.
We hope that this is helpful to you, and we are available to assist you as you develop a body of work that will appear cohesive and consistent.