Former QuiltCon Juror Tells All

First, I have to say I LOVE the salacious title of my blog post! Hey, I’m from LA. I can do that. Mostly this will be an education on how a juried quilt show works.

I do feel that I need to start this out saying that this is in no way endorsed by the Modern Quilt Guild, the organization that hosts QuiltCon. I have to say that because it is an organization that I helped to found but, as of last December I resigned and am not associated with it in any other way than as a lot of you are. I’m just a plain old member of my local guild, the one and only Los Angeles Modern Quilt Guild.

But, I’m compelled to write this because I know a lot of people have gotten their feelings hurt and part of it is not understanding the process of how a juried quilt show works.

Rough Idea of the Process
The jury process is pretty much the same no matter what show you go to. For some shows, especially the smaller shows, it can still be manual but the process is basically the same.

1. You submit your quilts with your information (name, email, address, etc.), name of quilt, dimensions, a descriptions and a couple of photos
2. After the entry deadline, the jury will get to view the photos and the description minus your name and other identifying info.
3. This step is done in different ways but, basically each member of the jury will say yes, no, or maybe to each quilt. Sometimes this is done with a numbering system 1 for no, 5 for yes. 2, 3, and 4 are reserved for the maybes. Sometimes it’s simply, yes, no or maybe.
4. The maybe’s are reviewed and decided upon. This can be done in several ways. In a show with a lot of entrants and a few spots you might have to have a unanimous yes from all jurors OR have a really high average score.

For QuiltCon the MQG uses an online computer service specifically designed for this purpose that many juried shows, like quilt shows or art shows use. The process is simple. The entrant submits their entries online submitting personal info, name of the quilt, statement, and two photos of the quilt. When the entry deadline has come and passed the jury gets a login where they can start to review the quilts and put their ‘votes’ in. You do it from your computer on your own so likely some of them were in their PJ’s doing it. OK, I’m telling on myself here. Last year we actually had discussion around the maybes. But, I suspect that due to the amazing number and what I suspect quality of entrants that maybe this was dealt with a little differently. I’m guessing here.

I saw that the MQG refined the judging process to reflect a lot of concerns from QuiltCon 2013 and they may have refined the system a bit. But, the basic process is the same.

“So, Why Wasn’t MY Quilt Selected?”
This is the golden question right. This is the question that all the entrants whose quilts weren’t selected have. Honestly, the ones that were selected probably have the same question “Why was my quilt selected?”. There is a lot that goes into the thought process of being a juror. First of all you react to your own personal tastes. The quilts you love get a YES or a 5. Quilts are art. Art is subjective. Jurors are human. We can’t get around all of that. All shows are like that.

Beyond that, there are space limitations and you must have balance in the show and to have a wide variety of quilts in each category. Also there is the appearance of workmanship that can only be viewed on photographs at this point (I can’t emphasize enough the quality of photographs). So, a LOT of things go into the selection process.

Let’s look at some of the assumptions that people are having on why their quilts weren’t selected.

“It’s Not Modern Enough”
Whether or not your quilt is modern enough is only one of many, many considerations. So, please don’t assume this is why your quilt didn’t make it through. Many, many modern quilts didn’t make it through especially with such a high number of entrants.

“I Bet All Their Friends Got In”
As I stated before, the process is such that there is an attempt at anonymity during the jury process. Let’s be honest though, if you are at all active in this community you start to recognize quilter’s styles and you know your friends quilts. To balance this out, there are a number of people on the jury though.

As a juror last QuiltCon, I had a few very good friends quilts that didn’t make it through (some of which I really wanted to and voted to get through some of which honestly I didn’t vote for) and a few people’s quilts that made it through that I didn’t think should have made it through. It’s part of the process. And, as a juror it can be difficult to remove your love for your friends or your respect for the quilter and look at the quilt and see if it fits in with the needs of the show.

One of the caveats when you agree to be a juror or judge is that your quilts cannot be considered for prize money OR ribbons. So you give up a lot being part of the jury. But, even your quilts don’t make it in automatically! I know for a fact that last year at least one of the juror’s quilts didn’t make the cut. Yep, rejected. πŸ˜‰

Who are These Jurors Anyway?
A few juried quilt shows announce who the jurors are for their show but, many do not. And, personally I think it’s wise. These are generally board members or volunteers who have stepped up to the plate. And what is the sense of criticizing individuals? If we have a problem it should be about the process and not the individuals. I wasn’t alone responsible for any quilt that hung at QuiltCon 2013 and neither were any of the jurors. The same goes for this year.

I do have to tellΒ  you that the MQG does make a concerted effort to put an impartial group of people on the jury that will make choices for the good of the show.

The judges on the other hand are announced and should be!

Over 1300 Entries!
I don’t know the exact numbers. I could have emailed the MQG but I wanted to come at this from a completely impartial perspective. But, I do know there were a lot of entries and only so many quilts can hang at in a show. My last entry was number 1466 I think (yep, I waited until the last minute) and I’ve seen the number 1350 pop up online as the number of quilts entered so maybe there were some that didn’t go through and so the number was a little lower. So just for kicks lets say there were 1200 entries. And then lets say that there is only room to hang 300 quilts. So, 3 out of every 4 quilts will be a reject. No matter how modern or fabulous they are.

But, I Got Rejected. Why?
I know, it’s hard when you receive that email that states: “Thanks for entering your quilt into. . . but. . . ”Β  In this society of everyone’s a winner it’s hard to see that. I KNOW all the work that goes into making a quilt especially when you put your all into it and it’s show quality. And, you sorta feel like what did I do all that work for?

But, everyone can’t be accepted. Please remember that not being accepted is not a judgement on your quilt. It’s not even winners and losers. It just wasn’t selected this time. That is all.

A Little Experiment
I want each of you to see how difficult it is to jury a show. Hop on over to Instagram and look at the hashtag #quiltconreject. Go ahead. Do it. Then select eight quilts. Any eight, I don’t care. Then select the two quilts that will be shown because you don’t have space to show any more than two quilts.

Haha! Not that easy, huh?

Be Kind Online
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s so easy to post something online putting down someone else especially when that person doesn’t have a name and a face to you. But, its real people who put on an event like QuiltCon. And there are a few paid staff but, this event is largely successful because of people who volunteer their time to make it fabulous. The jurors are no exception.

So, if you don’t like how the process is going then email the MQG (info@themodernquiltguild.com) and give constructive criticism and then volunteer your time to make the organization even better than what it is.

I’m not at all saying that the jury process can’t be improved or made better, I’m just asking everyone to look at the full picture and put it all in perspective.

Personally, I’m excited to see what quilts DID make it in if so many awesome quilts didn’t make the cut!

Enter Shows!!!
I can’t emphasize this enough. There are some AMAZING quilts that didn’t get in to QuiltCon. I’ve seen them online and on Instagram. The world deserves to see them in person. Please, please, please enter them into shows! A lot of shows now have modern quilt categories and are lacking in quality entries. Some of your quilts may not even fit into modern quilt categories anywhere. Enter them! You may get rejected again if it’s a juried show but, the quilts are already made. So, enter them. Don’t take the rejection personally. It may just not be the right quilt for the right show for the right jury.

Here are a few national shows you can check out their entry dates, etc:

American Quilters Society QuiltWeek – http://www.quiltweek.com/
Quilts Inc. shows – http://www.quilts.com/home/shows/
Mancuso – http://www.quiltfest.com/
The National Quilters Association – http://www.nqaquilts.org/quiltshow/site/2015
Fiber Arts Fiesta (Albuquerque, New Mexico) – http://www.fiberartsfiesta.org/FiestaEntry.html

(Note: This list is not complete and I’ll add to it.)

And, don’t forget your regional, local and guild shows! Lots of them aren’t even juried. In the least you can submit to your county fairs. It’s great to see quilts but, especially modern quilts hanging at the fair! And, worst comes to worst have your own show! Some local MQG’s have been putting on fabulous shows. Or do a one man or one woman show.

So, keep quilting people. And keep putting your work out there. I don’t know about everyone else but, I’m proud of you!

Hope to see you all in Austin!

Comments 88

  1. great discussion, though it helps to remember that the discussion was on acceptance, not judging. In our local show we designate priority numbers for our entries, that helps the process. Another suggestion on critiques, some of us participate in a critique group through our local art league, there is far more feedback there than judges are able to do in their comments. I would suggest exploring what is available in your local art community as many of the same design, creativity, etc. issues are covered there, and along the way this helps the textile community be recognized for the art it creates

  2. Thank you for such an insightful article. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be sifting through so many entries to promote such a small percentage. I know that the major quilt organizations don’t take juror or judge choices lightly.
    I do have one sad piece of news. The National Quilting Organization, in existence since 1970, disbanded after their 2015 show. We owe much to their pioneering efforts in hosting a national show where quilters could gather to share their love of quilting. They also established a rigorous judges’ certification program and designated masterpiece quilts; the best of the best. NQA will be missed.

    1. Great post, thanks I have curated three Showcase exhibits for Studio Art Quilts Associates here in San Diego County and we do try to show all local artists work in the area. Maybe some of your readers would like to think about entering shows that are in public art centers. Thanks again for your information!

  3. Really informative post, Latifah! I appreciate you sharing your knowledge of the process and also replying to all the comments on your post. Impressive! I can’t wait to see the show!

    1. Latifah Post
      Author

      Yes Bethany! It’s generally considered a group quilt if its three or more people. If it’s just two – like a piecer and a quilter – then they can go into normal categories. The quilt that won Best of Show last year was like this. It was pieced by Victoria Findlay Wolfe and quilted by Lisa Sipes.

  4. 2-3 seconds can make or break your juried entries. It was drummed into my head as an art student that the average amount of time your piece is looked at, or a 1.5 by 1.5 inch thumbnail of your piece is looked at, is 2-3 seconds. We can all test it. Google “modern quilt” and give yourself only 2 minutes to pick out your top ten from the first 10 pages. It gets easier and faster to pick the more you look at. It has to stand out enough, or be different enough, to be remembered in that short amount of time. Your piece may be super beautiful but be too similar to someone else’s or not what the show is looking for, or the picture be simply too dark. It’s a bit sad to me that there is not a greater understanding of how juried shows work. It’s not normal to get feed back, although some shows will offer it, or will for a fee (you are then paying for everyone’s extra time to write down and transmit the comments).

    I really love the supportive and giving atmosphere of the online/IG making community. That same kindness doesn’t really allow for criticism in the true sense of the word, which is neither positive nor negative, rather a neutral discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of a piece. It can be so helpful.

  5. What a great post! Thank you so much. As someone who has come to love the art of quilting but finds the whole process of quilt contests mystifying this is enlightening (To be honest, after reading however I’m not sure if I find them more or less intimidating. ) One thing is for sure, I’m excited to attend my FIRST quilt show, Quiltcon, put faces to the personalities that much inspire me and to revel in the artwork there.

    Hillary

  6. Very interesting and timely for me, since I am planning for the first time to enter a few of my quilts into a local juried show. I did not make these quilts for competition, but have been encourage to enter them by friends and family–some of them quilters. Accepted or rejected, win or lose, my love for these quilts will not change. Thanks for the frank explanation of the process.

  7. Excellent post Latifa. I love your suggestions too of entering more and different shows. I couldn’t agree more. I am gunning for Paducah and Yokohama this year–both with modern quilts.

    I cannot imagine how hard it must be to jury. And frankly, I am surprised by the number of people who have commented saying they should have an explaination as to why their quilt didn’t get in. The effort that would take would be monumental. I have assisted with judging before as a note taker and that effort is also a huge task.

    We are at a very interesting time. It is great to be a quilter and the modern quilting movement has already done so much to revitalize the industry. It is exciting to see how fast things are changing and how receptive people are being to “non-traditional” styles of quilting. Let’s all just keep working to make great quilts, grow as quilters, and put ourselves out there!

  8. that was so good. Its weird, I got both rejected and accepted. I was confused at first by the rejections of what I think of as my most “signature” work. The quilts that got in were the most inspired, newest work. The ones that got rejected were old, or over worked, or too many ideas all on the same plate.
    I know its hard but its fun to connect with others even if its rejection. So funny the #quiltconreject hashtag is mine. I may have been a little bitter when I started it but great joy has come of it. Im in some awesome rejected company.

  9. I enjoyed your comments. I think I have the same attitude about getting a quilt into a show as I did about the kids at my girl’s school getting into plays. Not everyone is good enough and in this world we need to accept that sometimes we are chosen and sometimes we are not. It drove me nuts that no teen was ever turned down for school plays. So they had TWO huge casts and it was so much extra effort. As adults we should be able to accept decisions and not be suspicious of motives or rationale. Your discussion makes it clear that the judges are doing their best. I don’t think they owe it to people to give a reason behind a decision. Life goes on. Other shows come up. We keep doing what we enjoy. And I didn’t enter a quilt because at this point I know I don’t yet produce the quality of quilt that would be accepted. But I might try in a year or two. And not having a quilt accepted will not be the end of my world. I think I will try some local venues first and get my toes wet.

  10. Thank you for the very informative article. I really would not want to be a juror and have to make the decisions they made. I submitted three quilts, and one got in., and I am very excited about it. I know that many people were disappointed to get the rejection e-mail, but in all honesty, we all knew that not everybody can get in. I try to raise my kids to understand that not everybody wins, not everybody gets a trophy. Call me crazy, but I like to lose sometimes, many times if necessary, because this loss is what makes me work and try harder to perfect my art and craft. We all have different tastes, and we are guided by them every day. Most of my quilts do not make sense to many people, but that has not discouraged me yet to make more of them. I cannot wait to go to Quiltcon, and see all the quilts together in one place. It is going to be a great show. Happy quilting everyone!

  11. Interesting, emails are going out for QuiltCon show quilts. Beginning at the bottom of the alphabet I have not received my notice yet……still hope. πŸ™‚

  12. Really interesting explanation. I’ve also read a lot of blog posts. All of them have been dignified and respectful of the process, even where the quilter has expressed disappointment.
    The only response I have is that several bloggers had two or three quilts accepted – sometimes quilts that were very similar in style. It would make sense to me if quilters were limited to one entry, to make space for a wider variety of quilts.
    Clearly the selection process is a difficult – even agonising one – that is done with integrity and respect.

  13. I did not enter any quilts so I am posting solely from the perspective of a quilter who has a full-time job and quilts for fun. I read (too many) quilting blogs during my lunch hour so I’ve seen many of the “I can’t believe I didn’t make it” blog posts and then I’ve read some “I made it” posts. Your explanation was so informative. I cannot imagine the uproar if someone did actually tell some of these “#quiltconrejects” why they didn’t make it. Many are beautiful and it was just luck of the draw that they didn’t make it. However, a good number are just not – what’s the right word? – Exceptional? The quilt might be exceptional for the maker but not compared to 1,199 other people. No one enjoys rejection but it is a part of life. Sometimes you get the girl/boy/job/house/lottery winning number and sometimes you don’t.

    1. Latifah Post
      Author

      Oh Lisa! That’s what I’ve been saying too. We would break the internet! Honestly, sometimes it boils down to which of the two exceptional quilts will get in. Thanks so much for commenting!

  14. Thank You very much for this post!
    As a certified juror and judge (by the Quilters’ Quild of the British Isles) I was happy to find out that we were tought to work in the same way. It’s a really very hard work. Thank You for this work too!
    As an entrant who has got the quilt rejected I can better understand the feelings of a quilter concerned. Sure I also want to know WHY. But it is really not so important. It was a challenge for me to make a quilt for QuiltCon. I enjoied the process of working on the quilt, I’m satisfied with the result.
    I hope I will be able to come to Austin to see the show and to learn much more about modern quilt.

    1. Latifah Post
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      Thanks Marina for writing. In the end, it’s all about the process and the quilt and not whether or not it hangs in a show. It’s tough feeling like our work is “rejected” but, in the end it just wasn’t chosen and there will always be another chance. I hope you do make it to QuiltCon – it’s a great show! Say hello if you see me there!

      1. QuiltCon is a really great event. I was in Austin 2013. That’s why I’ll make this long trip again.
        It’s a good thought – the quilt was not rejected, it wasn’t chosen this time. Sounds nearer to the truth.
        Would be nice to meet You.
        Best regards!

  15. what a wonderful, informative post, thank you so much for setting this all down so clearly. I was lucky enough to have the one quilt I entered accepted and I really have been wondering ‘Why did it get accepted?!’ I keep thinking maybe they will change their mind when they see it in person! In the end it’s so subjective and I am left feeling kind of guilty for getting in. But as I am travelling all the way from Scotland in February I am so thrilled I’ll be able to see my quilt in the exhibition!

    1. Latifah Post
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      JoAvery, please don’t feel guilty! Be thankful. So awesome that you’re coming all the way from Scotland too. I hope you enjoy the show. It was pretty awesome last year!

  16. Two Suggestions:

    1. MQG should consider sending the ‘score sheets’ to the quilt contributors, as well as the total number of quilts they accepted and the number submitted.

    2. Maybe MQG could consider hosting regional quilt shows in conjunction with their SewDowns around the country. Not a national traveling show, but only quilts from specific regions. Easier for many more of us to attend and allows for more participation. Now that we have ‘regional’ representatives, this might be possible.

    Also, remember that this movement started because we didn’t want to be ‘policed’ or ‘put in the box’ of traditional quilting. We should avoid creating new boxes!!

    1. I was curious about this very thing so I asked the MQG about it. The very thoughtful and kind answer I received back is that they are following standard practice wherein juried quilt shows do not provide this information. However, the judging itself should be very positive and educational for each entrant πŸ™‚

    2. Latifah Post
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      Hello Elaine,

      1. It would be nice but, it’s likely not going to happen. Research the jury process at other shows and you’ll see that it’s common practice not to send comments. Logistically it would be complicated. And you think people are upset now!!! πŸ™‚

      2. Great idea! Please suggest these things directly to the MQG as well. I know how much work it is to put on a yearly/bi-yearly show so maybe as the organization grows they will be able to branch out to regional shows. As a member I would LOVE that!

      I understand what you mean by policing but, in the end there is this fine balance. (I have very strong feeling on this which is a whole blog post in and of itself.) I’m not saying that the MQG straddles it perfectly but, there exists this fine balance that has to be managed between defining ourselves and our work and allowing the movement to grow and evolve. There has to be some “rules” or some structure otherwise we may as well just call ourselves The Anything Quilt Guild. You have to understand that we were forced to define ourselves by the industry who suddenly saw new blood (new money) and wanted to capitalize on it and they were trying to define us. And at that time, they really didn’t have a clue. So, without going into it more, there is this fine balance with a need to define or but into a box and a need to leave the lid open for growth. In my opinion there’s a ton of room in growth in this area but, I don’t think we should just not have boxes. On the flip side as an individual we don’t have to put ourselves into anyone’s box. I for one consider myself a quilter whose aesthetic happens to be modern. I’m a quilter first (a box that I like) and I make what my heart and mind calls me to make. And whatever category that it falls in is fine by me. πŸ™‚

    1. Latifah Post
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  17. It sounds like maybe this whole thing could be avoided if you had certified judges. They are trained to judge quilts, not a certain type of quilt. Modern quilts could easily be judged this way as they look for workmanship, quilting etc. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel!
    I know that a lot of quilt shows also limit the amount of quilts you can submit, that might also help to make it more balanced. Just my humble opinion!

    1. I respectfully disagree. I think Modern quilts and especially Art quilts need specially trained judges in those fields/categories. Traditional quilt judges are usually not trained in observing the elements or principles of art. Modern quilt in theory is a far cry from traditional quilting. Although technique in Modern may be similar, innovative piecing, use of unusual color combos, irregular quilting, etc. are a whole different mind set.

      1. Latifah Post
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        I agree as well. And as this applies to the jury process there should be “modern quilters” who understand the aesthetic sit on the jury.

    2. Latifah Post
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      Hello Kelly, I’ve seen ‘limiting the number of quilts you can submit’ suggestion a couple of times. Maybe this is something the MQG will look at going forward. You have to realize that the first QuiltCon we had a hard time getting modern quilters to even enter and this year they had a great number of qualified quilts! Growing pains I guess. Again I must remind you that the jury process is not about judging the quilts per se. Jurors make a decision based solely on photographs on which quilts will be shown. They are usually just looking at the visual impact of the quilts and the workmanship that can be seen on the photos. That’s it. The judges on the other hand are a different story and I think with the three judges the MQG has chosen this year are highly qualified and balanced. Of course we’ll have lots of discussion after that process as well. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for commenting!

  18. Some things you forgot. So far the only pieces – I can’t even call them a quilt – I have seen that have been accepted are wall hanging sized pieces made from solid fabrics. If this was a criteria, why wasn’t it part of the rules? The other problem that is ruining the MQG is the non-acceptance of quilts that are non-traditional, but are not made of solid fabrics, are not minimalistic, and use prints. I thought the idea behind the MQG was to open the field to all aspects of non-traditional quilts, but apparently that is not the case.

    As far as space, they have an entire convention center to divide up and exhibit, but I can imagine they want to use lots of space for vendor to get people to spend more money.

    Speaking of money, a person does have to pay to enter all of these contests. To not get any feedback as to why their work was not accepted, even it is one or two words, would be considerate and helpful. But it is not about that, it is about the money. Until quilters put their foot down this won’t happen.

    I am going to Austin and I will be carrying around one of my rejected quilts to show anyone who might want see it. I encourage everyone to do this and we will have are own mobile show!

    1. One of my entries was not made of solids, and it was not minimal, and it was not small, and it got in. In my experience it costs money to put on a quilt show which is not recouped by the entry fees alone. The vendors help defray the costs and the vendors don’t work for free; so you are right – money is super important when putting on a huge event.

      The vendors won’t come if the attendees don’t buy anything. The keynote speakers will not speak if they are not paid. The teachers will not teach if they are not paid. (Well, maybe some would just for the fun of it.) The volunteers do not get paid πŸ™‚

      I for one, would love to see your quilt!

    2. Latifah Post
      Author

      Hey Patty, I don’t know quite where to start my reply. First of all, it’s difficult for us as viewers to make a judgement on which quilts were selected since we haven’t seen then all. For instance, one of the quilts that I had accepted not only is all prints on a solid background but, it is all the prints from one line of fabric and they are shown in large swatches so they don’t fall into the background at all. As a matter of fact it was designed to highlight these large scale prints. And my second has a combo of fabrics and is definitely not minimalistic. And they both are very large lap quilts. So both of those are outside of your assumptions. People want feedback but, first of all please remember that your quilts were NOT “judged” during the jury process. There was just a decision made by a committee on whether or not they’ll be shown in the show this year. It’s like entering any other juried show – quilt or not. I for a fact know that a lot of eligible quilts could not be shown due to space constraints. It’s not conducive for me to argue the points of space and money here. Conventions centers are expensive and events are expensive to put on and a non-profit definitely has a cost to be run as well. Please say hello when you’re in Austin if you see me. I’ll pretty much look like my bio pic! πŸ™‚

  19. I appreciate your article, but as for the call that more people enter their quilts, well, the rules that state you have to give up your name and image and etc for promotional purposes is pretty dang off-putting. I understand sponsors (and the MQG itself) wanting to be able to use images of the quilt, but biographical information about the quilter? That’s a no-go for a lot of people.

    Thanks for sharing your insights about the jury process.

    1. Latifah Post
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      Marimba, this is a personal call. It’s standard legalese so that the organization is protected when they take and publish photographs or announce winners. Thanks for responding!

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  20. Latifah. Thank you. Our two quilts were not accepted by the acceptance process. Needless to say I believe I understand and as the process is somewhat subjective I am by no means put out or “miffed”. In any art competition the jury and judging process is extremely “restrictive” to the expectations of the organizing body. What my partner and I knew as we entered our quilts was the fact that we had created two very different types of what we considered contemporary art quilts and then we decided to enter them into the 2015 QuiltCon competition. We did not create our quilts to “fit” the defining criteria of the QuiltCon competition expectations. We decided to enter because we thought that “maybe” they may be accepted…and of course they were not. A previous quilt of ours was accepted, I believe, to the 2013 QuiltCon competition primarily because we followed the requirements and focused on using the colors of the QuiltCon logo. We, Andy and I as quilters and self-designated artists, if we want to focus on entering competitions, have to give each organizing body exactly what they are asking for. And there are many, many competitions out there. Thanks, Jim

    1. Latifah Post
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      I remember your quilt from last year Jim! Loved it! I sort of did the same thing this year and didn’t expect my quilts to get in either. Surprisingly they did! I think it’s much more disappointing if you made a quilt specifically for the show and that didn’t make it in.

      1. Latifah, Thanks. We had designed a new one specifically for QuiltCon but it is currently still in the draft stage. Too many other commitments and projects on the make. Maybe QuiltCon 2017… that is unless the “rules” change. Jim

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  21. Thank you for being the voice of reason! I was wondering how the judging process was handled. Very interesting indeed! I would love to see a wider ‘gene’ pool in our MQG, fresh blood so to speak!

    Modern really is subjective and we can’t fault the judges. It would be nice to see a max. on how many one could have in shows. If there were that many submissions…there has to be plenty others to pick!

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      Updated. Maybe I’ll start to compile a list that we can keep updated in a separate location that can be used as a reference!

  22. Really great post! I’ve never entered anything for QuiltCon (yet), but I remember what a brouhaha there was last time. I get rejected and critiqued daily (grad school!) so I’ve learned to deal with rejection with nary a second thought, but I realize that for a lot of people, that’s not a part of their daily experience and it’s tough to deal with. I really liked your suggestion to remember other, more local shows and contests. And, I find that friends and family are easily impressed! I have a Facebook album of my quilts, and I love getting comments on them. I realize that others have, um, higher goals than getting a few likes on Facebook, but if your threshold is that high, sometimes you have to be prepared for failure. No author wins the Pulitzer with every book, no singer gets a Grammy for every album. Not even the really good or really popular ones. That doesn’t mean that their work is without merit, it just means that if your bar for success is high, you probably aren’t going to meet it every time!

    1. Latifah Post
      Author

      So true Catherine. It can be so hard to put yourself out there though! And for a lot of the ‘modern’ quilters this is their first time entering into a show so it’s their first time experiencing this. But, there are a ton of options where you don’t have to deal with the rejection. The LA County Fair lets almost everything in and everyone gets a ribbon too! I bet other county fairs are similar. Guild shows are nice too! I do agree that we need variety though and hope that QuiltCon will reflect that this year!

  23. Thanks Latifah for sharing your experiences. Having participated in countless art critiques and served as a juror for shows while as a Bachelor of Fine Arts undergrad, I’ve grown a thicker skin as an Artist/Quilter/Sewist or whatever you want to call it. In those roles you definitely have to learn to not take things personally, especially when you realize how intense things can get, and how passionate people are…which honestly is a wonderful thing at the end of the day; because if you are not passionate, why are you doing it.

    I’m excited to see the show come together next February. YAY for QuiltCon!

    1. Latifah Post
      Author

      So true Kristy! And we have to realize that most modern quilters and sewers are pretty new to the show thing. It’s not different at any other show. Sometimes you get in, sometimes you don’t.

      Yay for passion! Yay for QuiltCon! Yay for quilts!

    1. Latifah Post
      Author
  24. Thanks for this post. Demystifying the process helps me. I think it makes more sense to me now why so many that were accepted had multiple quilts accepted. These folks clearly had an aesthetic that was pleasing to the jurors. I will say, I think it is ok to be disappointed that my quilt wasn’t accepted. I put countless hours, blood, sweat, and tears into it, so to tell me not to take it personally isn’t realistic. However, I am not upset WITH Quiltcon or the MQG. I think it is wonderful there were so many entrants and it was, no doubt, a very difficult decision. No sour grapes here. Plus, the #quiltconreject hashtag is amazing don’t you think? So great that we get to see many of the quiots that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

    1. Latifah Post
      Author

      Absolutely perfect and normal to be disappointed. Believe me, I understand!! But to be bitter and nasty is a completely different story and some of the posts people were putting up really felt like they were leaning in that direction. By not taking it personally I only meant that the fact that your quilt wasn’t accepted is not in fact a personal rejection of you and your work, your work was just not chosen for this show. I think we’re on the same page here. Semantics, you know?! And, I am loving seeing the quilts that weren’t accepted – we can make a whole show out of that!! It means we got really great entries and I can’t wait to see all the quilts that were accepted. Thanks for commenting Katie!

  25. Great post and thank you for sharing. I had no idea that if a person was a judge they can’t enter themselves. That alone would be a motivator to be a good judge. Bottom line, I made a quilt I love. It was the first large quilt I’ve made where I was able to carry out what was in my head, start to finish. When I entered, I was proud of what I had created but realistically knew competition would be strong and that my chances were slim. I’ve typed this many times today and really mean it; I can’t wait to see those that were accepted in person!

    1. Latifah Post
      Author

      Yes, it’s a bummer to not be able to enter if you’re on the jury or are a judge but, it really helps make the process fair.

      Bottom line Ruthann, that IS all that matters. To make quilts that we love! Right?

      I honestly wasn’t able to finish the quilt that I really wanted to enter because I noticed I was rushing it. I had to tell myself there will be another show. I entered two quilts that I had designed for others and were already complete but, didn’t think they would get accepted because of the competition but, they did! I am with you though. I can’t wait to see all the quilts! It’s going to be great!

    1. Latifah Post
      Author
    1. Latifah Post
      Author

      Hey Caroline! That was the first time MQG had a juried quilt show but, all of the jurors in 2013 had worked with the MQG so intimately at that time that we all had an understanding of what we wanted in the show. We wanted variety so if quilts had a similar look and feel we picked the best ones. We looked at workmanship as far as we could see on photographs. Bad photos really do make a difference. Aesthetically, we adhered to what the MQG defined as Modern Quilting. It wasn’t a written out list of rules per se. And, since it was our first time, there was a LOT of discussion. We had a lot of maybes that had to be decided upon.

      Also, we had a LOT fewer entries so we had a lot less to work through. I’m sure as it gets bigger there will be more formal rules. I really have no insight into the process this year.

  26. You nailed it! I’ve been a judge’s scribe at a teeny tiny local quilt show several times and it’s amazing what I learned. I was totally relieved mine weren’t accepted (poor techniques and quilting). Do what you love.

    1. Latifah Post
      Author

      Yes Lisa, it’s a tough job that I’m glad I didn’t have to do this year! And yes – “Do what you love”! That’s my mantra. I always tell people I’m a modern quilter by default. I just make what makes my heart sing and my aesthetic happens to be modern.

  27. Thanks for this post! Totally understand this was a difficult process and that only 1 in 4 quilts could make it. My main issue is with what I see as a very narrow field that was selected for the show – if you look at the quiltcon hashtag for the quilts that made it, they all, by and large, have a very similar aesthetic and look. I’m really concerned that the MQG is narrowing down its definition of ‘modern’ to that abstract, minimalist, colour blocking style, and that is not to everyone’s taste, and is not what a lot of modern quilters are doing. It really doesn’t reflect at all the diversity of the amazing range of quilts that are being made, which we see on Instagram and blogs every day.

    1. Latifah Post
      Author

      Thanks Danielle for replying! You may have a point. I can’t wait to see which quilts will actually be in the show. I know neither of my quilts that were accepted fit into the definition that you gave above and I wonder which of the others will or will not. A lot of people have an issue with the MQG’s definition and maybe that is a conversation that should be held more widely within the MQG!

      1. My quilt was intended for submission in ‘modern traditionalism’ and was rejected. I think it’s because I didn’t use any solids which seems to be a part of the definition of what ‘modern’ quilting is. As a previous commentator has said: the MQG’s definition is too narrow. I completely understand the judging process and have no problem with it. My ‘problem’ is the definition of ‘modern.’ There are a lot of people who identify with modern quilting and are perhaps seeing their QuiltCon entry rejection as a sign they are not ‘modern.’ It’s a shame that in the process of jury ing, QuiltCon has alienated these quilters. I don’t know what the solution is though!

        1. Latifah Post
          Author

          Hey Alison! Thanks for responding. Can I ask why you automatically assume that the reason why your quilt wasn’t juried in because it didn’t fit the MQG definition of modern? I know for a fact that many, many modern quilts that fall well within the MQG definition didn’t make the cut. Whether the definition is too narrow or not is another question. I’d argue that the definition itself isn’t as limiting a the application of the definition. But, that may be another discussion for another day. πŸ™‚ I do think a LOT of people made guesses as to why their quilt was not accepted and there’s a good chance those assumptions are wrong. I don’t know the quilt that you submitted but from just looking at your blog you seem to have a very modern aesthetic.

          1. Because I took a traditional quilt pattern (Spiders Web) and altered the dimensions to make it modern and thought it would be a good entry for the ‘Modern Traditionalism’ section. I felt the low volume background (scrappy) was very ‘of the moment’ and I thought to take tiny, tiny scraps and turn them into a traditional modern design was quite cool. Construction wise it is well put together and the quilting was done by Krista Withers who will be one of the class teachers at QuiltCon this time.
            As someone else has commented, if I pay to enter a juried quilt show, surely a one or two line response as to why it was not accepted is the right thing to do? I might not agree with the comments BUT at least I will have some indication as to why my quilt wasn’t deemed suitable to be juried and it’s feedback to work on/improve for the next time. As things stand at the moment, you have a lot of quilters scratching their proverbial heads and wondering what was it about their quilts that wasn’t quite right. And don’t forget, some people specifically made quilts to enter (I didn’t), trying to follow the MQG definition of modern. How do we move forward cohesively as a group if half of us are fumbling in the dark, unaware of what ‘modern quilting’ is?

          2. Latifah Post
            Author

            Believe me I understand the frustration! But, if you entered into any juried show the process is the same. There were many, many quilts that were beautiful and qualified that did not make it in. Don’t assume it wasn’t “modern enough”. People don’t wonder if their quilt was traditional enough when it’s not accepted into a traditional quilt show. Or if not artsy enough when it’s not accepted into an art quilt show. It just wasn’t accepted. There is just no way that every quilt that was “modern” could be accepted into the show. And for better or worse especially in shows with a large number or entrants you are not going to get comments as to why it wasn’t accepted into the juried show. It’s not standard practice and not very feasible or conducive to the process.

          3. So it all goes back to respect and feedback. They willing accepted my entry fee so let me know what I was rejected. If you accept the job to judge then you need to spend the time letting people know why their quilt was rejected.

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