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Dilemma of Juried Exhibitions


    This year has shown some contention around the Enamelist Society juried exhibit. In my mind, there are two basic grounds for complaint. The more abstract of these issues is whether one artwork can be compared to another artwork so that one is judged superior. On what basis can a Picasso be compared to a Rembrandt? Such decisions are assigned to judges who have their own bias. There is no way for any judge to be completely objective with such decisions.

    Which of these portraits should be now in show?

    Pablo Picasso                                                   Rembrandt

    The other issue is a much more practical problem. Should an organization have an exhibit where some of its members are precluded from showing their work because judges deemed that work somehow inferior to the work of other members? Worse yet, when the Enamelist Society allows non-members to submit works, members may find themselves loosing out to strangers who have done nothing for the organization.

    This kind of competition aroused some indignation in the past. The society addressed it only by setting aside a space for members to bring their own unjudged items to the conference. This can make things worse. It may feel like being seated at the children’s table at a wedding. Besides, some of us do work which can not be practically brought with us to the convention by passenger air transport.

    Other organizations in which I have been a member have devised strategies for dealing with such problems. It would help if the complains which are flying around the internet will motivate the Enamelist Society to look at these solutions. Something should change.