Risk Sharing your Creative Work


The appeal of showing in an Art Museum is exciting and daunting at the same time. One can’t help go through the self doubt about ‘is my work good enough’, especially when you see work by other artists at drop off. Those doubts creep up on the most experienced artists who submit their art to juried shows regularly. My thoughts about it over the years, especially after witnessing and participating in the jury process, are always about why the piece wasn’t accepted. That doesn’t in any way mean that it wasn’t good enough. Many jurors review the entries and then look for a cohesive assemblage of pieces that make a great show.  There is often talk among artists about upcoming shows and the juror(s) may have a particular reputation for a genre that would deter some from entering.

I think that the risk factor always appears bigger than it is.

   First, there is only so much room to exhibit, so there has to be a selection process simply to accommodate the space.

   Second, read the rules. If there is a size limitation, adhere to it. If it says no photography, don’t send it. If there is a deadline, don’t bother being late. Not all rules are made to be broken. Often, artists eliminate themselves because they don’t read the rules.

   Third, there are many competitions that build reputations, however don’t overlook the local opportunities. It’s still exposure and fun.

   If you are new to submitting work to juried exhibits, my message is don’t be afraid. Put it out there and let it be seen. Sometimes you won’t get your work in. Often you will.

   One group of local artists responded to having their work ‘not accepted’ to a major juried exhibit. They banded together and in homage to the early French painters had their own Salon of Rejects. In the spirit of self mocking and self adoration it was a wonderful exhibit. 

   In the movie Chariots of Fire, the Olympic marathon runner who trained his whole life for the race is faced with a worthy opponent, so his victory is not such a sure thing.

 He says to his lady, “I won’t run if I can’t win.”

She replies, “You can’t win if you don’t run.” 

 ***Above you will see an oil painting (4” x 4”). I baked blueberry muffins that looked so tasty, I had to paint them while they were still steaming. I did it all in twenty minutes. When I considered putting the little gem into a regional art exhibit I hesitated. Of course, self doubt. It’s too small, it’s just blueberry muffins, who is going to take it seriously?

   I even assisted on receiving day and left it in my car while I sat there encouraging others to submit. It finally dawned on me that I should submit the piece and pay the fee for the simple purpose of supporting the art league. If it doesn’t get in, so what.  The following week the jury slip arrived in the mail, which was  humorously confusing as it had both Accepted and Not Accepted checked off. Yeah, huh?

   I went to the opening reception with no idea if it would be hanging on the wall. The President of the art league approached me and said, “Oh, good, you’re here. I left you a message on your answering machine.”

   Well, actually she didn’t. She left a message at a wrong number. As it turned out,  I did get my little blueberry muffins into the show.  The painting also won a prize. So, maybe the key is not to take it so seriously. Once I let go of feeling desperate about getting the piece  in, I left room for the opportunity for something good to happen.

   You r assignment- submit your creative work to a competition. Poetry, music, art, cooking, whatever. The most amazing part of the competition is usually the process of taking a risk. If your work is not selected, so what? I’ve had the same piece rejected from one show only to get a top prize in another. So what if it doesn’t get in. This is not an assignment of winning and losing. It really is about the practice of risk taking and at the same time making connections with other creative people. So many opportunities come from participating. There is always something new to learn. The bonus, if you are selected it’s an opportunity to celebrate.


1 Comment

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One response to “Risk Sharing your Creative Work

  1. Ann

    As you know I am your least creative friend….but I love everything you write! Your thoughts always make sense and your advice is wonderful!

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