Wednesday, November 4, 2015

It's a major award! ...or the value of juried shows

Rebecca Mezoff, Emergence VII, 45 x 45 inches, hand-dyed wool tapestry
It has been awhile since I won a jurors choice award in a show. My piece Emergence VII was chosen as the juror's choice award in the Handweaver's Guild of Boulder show, Conversations. And I will admit that that made me happy. It also made me think again about the value of juried shows or shows of any kind.

This is what the juror, Jo Fitsell, had to say about my piece:
This show well represents both the way boundaries can be pushed and the intense beauty of working within them. The one piece which seems to bridge both worlds, Emergence VII, bravely struts out on its own with plenty to say. Yes, the shapes are large and graphic, but the artist also includes shadow with the power, and captures intrigue by communicating through color. A very powerful piece.
 So thanks for that! It is quite an encouragement to keep working, these little bits of recognition.
I have been thinking a lot about juried shows lately. There are moments where I am quite sure I'll never enter another one, though I've always changed my mind in the long run. This particular show was a local thing and I entered thinking that it was a way to show support for my local guild and to get tapestry out into the community.

I do think that shows are one of the things that can help us push back against the resistance that comes with being an artist. (See Steven Pressfield, The War of Art for a great description of resistance.) For many of us, having a deadline like a show we want to be in actually makes us sit down at the loom every day and produce inches.

Unless it takes us farther from the most important thing--our experience of our creation. I have also found myself working toward some specific show and losing track of what it was I was actually trying to express. I can't let the thought of my piece hanging in a particular venue shape what it is I'm actually working on. And to be honest, not once when I started working on a piece for a specific show did I get in.

I also think a lot about multi-media shows versus tapestry-only shows. When you go to see art, you don't usually see a whole gallery full of the same medium. I think tapestry-only shows are a bit odd actually. I do appreciate being able to go to a tapestry show and having so many examples of wonderful work to study and learn from. But when I stand back and think about the impact of the whole gallery, I wish for something else to challenge my interest somehow. Of course shows could be designed or curated in such a way to address a certain idea all in tapestry, but likely that wouldn't be your general-entry sort of experience.

All I'm really saying is that I think tapestry artists need to broaden their horizons. Let's enter shows about something and that likely contain various art media. Lets put our work out there where artists working in other mediums will see it. Where curators and dealers will notice it and say, "Hey, I didn't know anyone wove tapestry anymore. This is good!"

And if we continue tapestry-only shows, let's consider loosening the guidelines a little bit. Who cares if the warp shows? Isn't the idea the piece is expressing more important than that it follow a particular definition of tapestry? Let's be more human and open up conversations about what we make.

But above all, let's keep making things. Maybe we'll even win a major award!


12 comments:

  1. Congrats! Beautiful work and wonderful post. Thanks

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    1. Thanks Donald! I really appreciate that.

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  2. Congratulations! It's beautiful, and I love the juror's comments.

    I've been saying for years that tapestry weavers need to enter art shows, not those just limited to weaving and/or tapestry. If we want tapestry to be seen and valued, it has to be seen in a more diverse setting. I love to see a juried show that includes traditional painters, along with a more contemporary style, sculpture, mixed media, fiber, and installations. I'm always glad to be accepted in that company of artists.

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    1. Thanks Sherri! I agree. I like what you said at the end there. "I'm always glad to be accepted in the company of artists."

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  3. Congratulations, Rebecca,
    I too agree with the comments you make. Tapestry weavers need to break out of the tapestry ghetto! We have tapestry shows and the only theme that connects them is the 'process' of making tapestry. it is high time that we move beyond the tapestry technique and start thinking as artists.
    Content is important and the best art shows have a theme or expression that goes beyond technique.
    I think many weavers come to tapestry from a background of knitting or crocheting rather than an art background. I few basic classes in design could move the focus from the 'process' into being thought provoking art.

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    1. Ah yes. That is a problem that tapestry has. I do agree that most people are interested in fiber and usually that is more of a craft focus--and then they try tapestry. There absolutely isn't anything wrong with that. But a whole world awaits in the the realm of art. Design classes are important.

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  4. Congratulations!! I am going this morning ~ Can't wait to see your piece! Your work always stimulates me first as an artist~~ Your technique is flawless~~ Artistically, it is very inspiring~ Subtle layers flow in and out of mind perceptions and invites me into a broader perspective ...This guides my own "process" from inner into outer and seeing relationships of possible global unity ~

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    1. Have fun Aneesha! The sale is always fun to browse. I love those wonderful narrative dolls that one woman makes. I can't remember her name. I had pictures of her work in my post last year... ah yes, Suzzanne McGuirk.

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  5. Hi Rebecca, I went to the show yesterday and was so excited to see your tapestries. The quality of the work at the HGB show is always great but your weaving to it to the next level. Thanks.

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    1. Thanks so much David. That means a lot to me coming from you!

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  6. Trish at Tangled ThreadsNovember 8, 2015 at 4:19 PM

    I think it is important for there to be both all tapestry and mixed art shows and that tapestry artists enter their work in both. A show that is all tapestry is likely to attract more tapestry people to view it. I think this is important as those folks are likely going to be able to appreciate the technical skill of the weaver - straight selvedges, flat tapestry, skilled colour gradation, beautiful joins, etc. I think it is important to be seen by our peer group and to receive recognition from them. I do agree with Rebecca that it is also important that the tapestry groups recognize and encourage those artists who "push the envelope" and create new tapestry art and that those pieces are accepted into shows. On the other hand, I also think it is important for tapestry artists to enter mixed art shows. I believe the visitors to these shows may not know much (or anything) about tapestry and it is an opportunity to expose our art form to a wider audience. It may encourage others to learn tapestry or at least to learn to appreciate what tapestry offers the art world that is different than other art media. Our very best tapestry artists can "compete" for awards with other well known artists from a variety of fields. This will be beneficial for all concerned - the artists, the jurors, the show visitors and the show organizers. And kudos to Rebecca on the award!

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  7. Your work deserves recognition!

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