Monday, July 6, 2009

Help: Rejection, what's love got to do with it? Regina Murphy

I asked several artists who exhibit regularly and participate widely to let me know how they deal with artistic rejection. See earlier posts for more background.

Regina Murphy’s artwork seems omnipresent in the Oklahoma City area. She is known for both submitting to many shows and organizing lots too. Regina must have figured something out or is submitting to things that are very appropriate to her work considering the large percentage to which she is getting accepted (80% acceptance is pretty darn good).

Q: How do you decide what juried shows to enter?
RM: Choosing which juried shows to enter has different considerations today than in the past. Shipping costs and handling fees are a great problem today. Of course, the quality of the show is always important and for many people the size of the award money is the determining factor. Personally, in the past few years I have limited my entries to local venues for the most part, with the exception of one show, the Palm Springs Museum show which I enter because I have a daughter affiliated with that museum and she encourages me to do so.

Q: What percentage of them would you say you’ve gotten in over your career?
RM: In recent years I have been fortunate to have been accepted in probably 80% or more of the ones I have entered. In the earlier years a little less.

Q: What is your experience of rejection from artistic things?
RM: Rejection is never joyful. However, one must realize that it’s just one person’s opinion and on a given day that person might choose differently. We have all had experiences of getting a particular piece of art rejected from one show and accepted in another, and often received an award as well.

For the past 20 years I have served as Slide Chair for OWA’s National Watermedia Oklahoma Exhibition and I have had a number of unhappy artists to respond to. A number of the judges have expressed the opinion that artists should realize that judging an exhibition is impossible without a small amount of personal bias for the type of work accepted. During all those years I always sent a letter of explanation to those artists not accepted (never called it rejected), stating how many pieces were chosen from the number entered and that each year there is a different judge and thus a different views of what will be the best show from the submissions. Also I always asked the judge to furnish a statement of his/her criteria for judging which I enclosed with the letter. I had hoped that knowing what criteria was used would help the artist understand why his/her work was not accepted, and perhaps helped the artist to judge his/her work and to have a better idea of what to enter next time. Almost all the judges put at the top of the list “personal expression,” even more important than skill and competence.

Every artist needs to enter some juried shows. Not only does it help a resume, but it gives the artist verification when accepted, and provides a comparison of his/her work with other works in the show. I am often humbled when viewing the great works in National Watermedia Oklahoma Exhibitions and also am very proud to be in such good company.

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