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. 😉
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 tell 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. . . ” 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 (email@example.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!
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!