Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Juried Process


I often receive questions from exhibitors about the gallery. I have compiled answers to the most common questions on our website here. One common type of question regards the jurying process.  While I cannot speak for other galleries, this week I would like to explain a bit about how the jurying process works for The Kiernan Gallery.

As a photographer myself, I recognize the desire to want to understand the judging process. Every juror makes their selections differently. A show juried by a panel would probably lend itself to more transparency, because each juror’s opinion would need to be explained to the others and compromises would occur. A single juror does not need to compromise or justify their aesthetic.

I choose jurors for their eye, and defer entirely to their aesthetic discretion. I strive to select jurors who I think are able to curate a strong and diverse exhibition. All of our jurors are well respected in their fields. Jurors who are professional photographers have had books published and are major award winners. Many of them also teach. If the juror is a photographer, it is not enough for me to admire their work; I need to have seen them in a panel, to have read their blog, or to know something which indicates that not only does their own work fit the theme, but that they are able to respond to work different from their own. Jurors who are curators, gallerists, and/or editors are highly respected in the photographic community, are sought after portfolio reviewers, and have reputable galleries or publications.

Each show receives a different number of submissions. The numbers vary by the month, theme, and juror. We have had shows with nearly a thousand images where few were of exceptional quality, and also had shows with far fewer images where the competition was fierce. We try to vary our exhibitions to include both niche and broad themes. I ask jurors to select no more than two images from any one artist. This could be two selected for the online gallery, two for the main gallery, or one in each.

As someone who regularly submits to exhibitions, I have seen the positive effect they have had on my career by building connections, sales, and my exhibition resume. There is no secret strategy for selection into a juried show. I wish I could say that there was. Believe in your work. Send you best work. Send it again, even if it was rejected the first time. Remember that art is subjective and that often one juror’s least favorite image will be one that another cannot live without.

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