For the past few weeks I have been intentionally not talking about a piece I have been making because I am entering it in a juried exhibition. By next Sunday the jurors will have selected the show and I will be able to show you the piece. After that my posts should return to more normal content, at least for a while.
Juried exhibitions are a crapshoot. No matter how carefully jurors are selected, and no matter how diligently those jurors attempt to make un-biased decisions, there is no way of predicting whether or not even a truly excellent work will be included.
First, the exhibition is usually limited to a set number of works, especially if it is to be toured. This means that at some point the jurors will be forced to select a limited number of pieces from all the works that are good enough. Personal biases will come into play.
Second, there is no way of predicting what the other entries there will be, or how many there will be. This is particularly tricky in a multi-media exhibition like Dimensions. If, for instance, you work in clay and half of the entries are clay, this will reduce the chance of your work being included. Even if having clay works as half of the pieces in the exhibition would be representative of the actual craft demographic, the jurors will want to include as many media as possible. They will select a less brilliant piece of jewellery —just an example, not a specific reference— rather than another pot.
Third, often jurors are working under severe time constraints in less than ideal surroundings. In the case of Dimensions they will be in a shopping mall under fluorescent lighting. They will have a nominal two days to select approximately thirty works out of more than two hundred entries. This is a killer job. I know because I have done it. Jurors have been known to regret decisions made late on the second day. (I have twice received letters of apology from jurors saying “I have no idea why we did that.”)
This year Felicia Gay and Kye-Yeon Son have agreed to undertake the task. The following images and bios are from the Saskatchewan Craft Council website.
Felicia Gay, of Swampy Cree and Scot descent from Cumberland House, SK, is currently based in Saskatoon, SK as an independent curator. Recently under her direction as curator, Wanuskewin Heritage Park Galleries become the only public gallery in the region to exclusively feature Indigenous contemporary art and became a model of international leadership in this area. In 2006, Felicia founded the Red Shift Gallery, a contemporary Aboriginal art space, with Joi Arcand. The gallery was central in addressing issues around colonial histories and violence against Indigenous women and girls and sharing Indigenous voices. Red Shift created a presence for Indigenous artists within the larger structure of the Canadian artist-run network. Felicia brings a thoughtful lens of Indigenous worldviews and counter-narratives to contemporary curation and has been curating with a focus on Indigenous situated knowledge(s) since 2004.
In 2006, Felicia was awarded the Canada Council for the Arts Aboriginal Curatorial Residency with AKA Artist-Run. Felicia has Masters and Bachelors degrees in art history. Her insight and expertise have been featured in keynote presentations and essays at the Canadian Arts Summit,Canadian Art magazine and in various publications. Felicia was the 2018 recipient of the Saskatchewan Arts Award for Leadership for her work as a cultural worker and advocate for Indigenous artists in Saskatchewan.
Kye-Yeon Son was the winner of the 2011 Saidye Bronfman Award, one of the prestigious Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts in Canada. Born in South Korea, Son received her BFA from Seoul National University and her MFA from Indiana University. She has exhibited her works in numerous solo and group exhibitions in public and commercial galleries across Canada, the United States, South Korea, Germany, Japan and England. The Saskatchewan Craft Council exhibited Son’s work in 2018 to high acclaim.
Son moved to Montreal in 1984, joined the faculty of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University, Halifax in 1995 and became a member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 2000. Among her many awards are the 2006 NICHE Award and several Awards of Excellence from the Metal Arts Guild, Toronto. Son currently lives and works in Halifax, Canada.
Kye-Yeon Son’s metal objects, which are delicate, fragile, elegant and powerful, quietly command attention. Movement through direction, space, volume and texture is mastered in Son’s work, whether the object is sculptural or wearable.
Unlike many organisations which hold juried exhibitions, the Saskatchewan Craft Council attempts to make the process as transparent as possible.
I am in the final stages of preparing my entry. David is making a shipping case that will withstand being dropped upside down from a height of six feet. (The current entry form didn’t say that, but a previous one did.) It’s a good idea as works included in the show will need to survive a tour with the shipping done by public carriers. I am writing out all the packing/unpacking instructions and an artist’s statement. I am not a fan of artist’s statements in general but in an exhibition like this, where jurors may have no knowledge of your medium, and are supposed to judge work anonymously (which means they have no reference to your larger body of work), an artist’s statement can be useful.
Tuesday is the drop-off day.
Wish me luck.