For those that don’t know, I’m against virgin rules in art shows. A virgin rule excludes any entry from consideration if it has been previously published — in a book, magazine, website, or blog — usually in any form, in part, in process, or whole.
The primary show that does this is Quilt National (QN)– a very prestigious show for art quilters that comes around every other year. I entered one year, and like the other 98% that entered, I was not included.
The rules seem sensible — until you start to break it down from the artist’s point of view. If you spend a month or more on a piece (not everyone does but many do) and you have a website and/or a blog — you are excluding those efforts from your audience. In my case, I share a lot of my work in process. It’s the heartbeat of my blog.
Another notable artist that I follow recently started having her husband guest blog as a beginning quilter — but now he’s almost taken over completely because apparently she’s working on something she can’t share. I didn’t start reading her blog to hear from someone else on a different subject — I started reading her blog to read what SHE had to say about a particular subject. As an avid reader, I feel a little cheated. I have not even been given an explanation.
I do know a quilter that has entered and exhibited at Quilt National who typically pumps out three pieces in the month just prior to the deadline. She is so prolific that you don’t notice a blip on her blog.
But then there is me. I take a while. Unless it’s very small, it’s going to take me at least a month, maybe two, to make one piece.
This has come to mind for a couple of reasons. First, I was gathering my entry to IQF: It’s Raining Cats & Dogs exhibit last week. I’ve been in this show the last two years. I made a piece earlier in the year for it — before the rules came out — and just as I was gathering my entry materials — there it was. A virgin rule. Obviously, I already have a page on my website for it — and I documented its creation on my blog — so it’s disqualified. So disheartening. I know that there are some other shows that will be happy to exhibit this piece — but this was a disappointment. Apparently, in the 3rd year of the life span of a special exhibit, IQF adds the virgin rule. Piffle.
There was discussion a year or so ago about IQF adding the virgin rule into the larger World of Beaty competition — I’ve been watching for it and have been delighted it hasn’t appeared.
The curators don’t want everyone to see the work before the show and I understand that. I argue, however, that seeing a piece in person is very different from seeing it in a 72dpi pic on a computer screen. They also should not discount the artistry in the curator that pulls together just the right pieces in just the right configuration to present a dynamic exhibit.
So it sounds as if I will never enter a virgin rule contest, right? I’ll be completely honest here — I’m thinking of changing my mind. I received an email notification for entries to QN a couple of days ago — and I’m considering entering. I am finishing up a piece and I need to start on a new idea. The QN carrot is tempting. It would be another milestone — or it could simply be another way to take the life blood out of my blog — a move not terribly justifiable if my chances of getting juried in are less than 2%.
The deadline is in September. I have the full month of May until the summer — and I don’t create much during that time — until school starts back in mid-August. I could give myself a deadline of one month — and then finish it up at the end of the summer. I think a month is probably the longest amount of time I would be willing to sacrifice from my blog.
Even if you get past the whole virgin rule argument — you have to then tackle the concept of innovation, a cornerstone of this show. What hasn’t been done? Well everything has been done — “innovation” is in the eye of the beholder.
It’s a little ironic — I used to be adamantly opposed to making pieces to fit the mold of a show. Now I’m trying to do exactly that — but to argue the other side, I’m also trying to stretch myself — do more than I would otherwise do on my own. Without a push, I might choose to make something comfortable.
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