Thursday, September 8, 2011

On being rejected...

So far this year has been a pretty successful year for me in terms of the ratio between entries and acceptances to competitions or juried shows. And that is apart from the quilts that are still touring as a result of last year’s successes.
For one thing, I had one quilt in TheArTQuILT ExPERIENCE in Cazenovia
 I had entered this quilt only as a very last minute decision because it was the only one that fit the size requirements - I had only heard about the show rather late and I had not had enough time to make one explicitly for this show. Out of two entries, I had one accepted to be shown in Ste. Marie-aux-Mines next week (I will talk about this in more detail in a couple of days). I am still waiting to hear about an entry to another show, which should be happening any day now.
But the ratio has not been ‘perfect’ – I’ve had a few disappointments. Those are not easy to talk about because there is always the danger that hurt personal feelings make it harder to accept a jury’s verdict. And one certainly doesn’t want to be considered whiny. Neither of my two entries to the German show “Tradition bis Moderne” was accepted. My entry to Textile News, an international show of small quilts,  was also rejected.
Any rejection is bound to create hurt feelings on the producer’s side, no matter how well one knows that only so many quilts can be accepted in a show and there must be some that will not be accepted. But these hurt feelings may change with time. With regard to my two entries to the German “Tradition bis Moderne” I am quite aware that they are not the strongest quilts I’ve made. And when I saw the exhibit at its first venue I was actually glad not to be included amongst those quilts that were suffering from the insufficient conditions of display. That helped to diminish the hurt of rejection – actually, I have a perfect record of rejection, because every time I have entered for the Tradition bis Moderne I have been rejected so far. The hurt continues, however, with regard to my doubts whether I should rather have taken a different decision when I decided to try to enter quilts that were not recognizably ‘mine’ to an supposedly anonymous jury. But that’s crying over spilt milk and another story. My entry to “Textile News” was a playful experiment that I liked (and still like) but that I did not consider as a major step in my development towards new directions. It was fun to make, and I would have liked to be in the traveling exhibit because I had been in the very first of these but had missed out on even entering with the next two. But it wasn’t that big a disappointment.
The most recent rejection, however, just arrived last week. And it still hurts – not because of the fact that I was rejected, but because of the reason for rejection that was communicated to me. I had entered a portfolio for the “Large Scale Quilts” juried exhibit that was called for by the German Quiltkunstverein (of which I am a member).
 It was open to non-members, too, and it was clear that being a member would not mean any advantage in the jury’s decision. Out of 56 entries, 22 were chosen, and I was not among them.
I can definitely live with that, especially since I had not been too keen on making several quilts that large again, after my recent episode(s) with participating in the “Color Improvisations”. But I have several interesting ideas which are rather different from anything that I have done so far, which I have not seen done by anybody else, and these I indicated as plans in the portfolio. We were allowed to include seven pictures of earlier quilts, and these I chose from the series Play of Lines, the two quilts part of the “Beyond Comfort” exhibit, and the two entries to Ste. Marie-aux-Mines. I learned that one of the reasons that was repeatedly named in my final rejection was the fact that I was “recognizably a student of Nancy Crow”.
Of course that is true, I have studied with her repeatedly, and she has definitely been influential in my quiltmaking. I would even agree that the quilts from the series “Metamorphoses”, the first ones of which originated in one of Nancy’s classes are indeed recognizable as made by a student of Nancy Crow. However, I do not think that that is still true with the quilts that I have been making since I started the Play of Lines series, and definitely not with the newest ones that are not part of that series. So I would object to the reason for rejection, because I don’t think that the quilts I included in the portfolio justified this verdict.
I honestly admit that I am a bit relieved that I won’t be making quilts for this show, in those large sizes required. My ideas, which can certainly be realized in different sizes, will make wonderful entries for the European Art Quilts, the next Wide Horizons called for by SAQA, Quilt National, or other interesting challenges that will come up. But I still think the reason given is unfair. And I don’t think that this feeling will lessen over time.

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