May is high anxiety time at the Woodson Art Museum. This is true not only for staff, but also for the close to 600 artists who submit artwork for consideration for the Museum’s Birds in Art exhibition.
Like college acceptance letters of years past, the Museum formerly notified artists via the happy, big envelope versus the sad, small one.
Now, the Museum takes advantage of the efficiency and affordability of email communication. The many pluses are obvious; I’ll comment on the downside as well as on the seriousness with which we undertake the jury process and all communication with artists, whether by phone, email, snail mail, or social media.
Submitting your artwork – and by extension, yourself – to scrutiny, whether for an art exhibition or college admission, requires courage and confidence as well as humility and humor (always a good antidote).
The notion of “rejection” is counter to all we strive for. Perhaps that’s why colleges now “deny” applicants rather than rejecting them. Regardless of the word we use, the message and result are the same and that’s not what anyone wants to hear.
Previously, I wrote notes on Birds in Art notification letters – on both acceptances and rejections. While time consuming – and at times heart wrenching – it also was cathartic as it gave me an opportunity to convey a personal thank you along with words of encouragement, because we truly want to see everyone succeed.
Although these hand-written notes are no more, the commitment of the jurors to do their best work and the subsequent attention to detail by Museum staff remain Birds in Art hallmarks.
Imagine willingly agreeing to spend seven or so hours in a dark gallery looking at close to 1,000 projected digital images. Three Birds in Art jurors – different museum and art world colleagues each year – typically travel considerable distances and enthusiastically take on the challenge and responsibility associated with sorting and scoring artworks. It’s a long day and also an exhilarating one. With the 2012 jurors’ work now done, the list of artists included in this year’s exhibition can be viewed here.
If you received the small email message, take heart and remain steadfast in your determination to make art. If you received the big email message, pat yourself on the back, pay it forward by encouraging your peers and students, and participate fully to make the most of your Birds in Art experience.