“… if you’re applying to
the People Who Officially Curate And Publish Things

they have many, many, many, many submissions to wade through and
they can’t always fall in love with your stuff.  It has to be good enough,
it has to fill a niche or a need they have, they have to have a spot for it,
it has to fit in somehow with total package of things they have planned
for this issue or festival program but be different enough to stand out,
they have to like it enough to want to put their own time into it,
they have to see a market for it.
It’s subjective and not fair.”
~ Captain Awkward

Rejection stings. I want to rejoice with my friends who did make it into the show, but I am bummed at the same time to not be part of that show. I know it’s a game of odds and I know it’s about cohesiveness for the curators, but when you are all excited about a piece of work, get professional photos taken, think about the artist statement to go with it, it is a setback to get a 2-line form letter that says “YOU DON’T FIT IN.”

I already went through that in school people! Not just in elementary school, but in middle school, high school and in college, across countries, with accents and somehow never clicking with a clique.

It’s funny how in spite of all the pep-talks on individualism and following your heart, there is still that spot that wants to be part of a group, that wants to be ‘accepted,’ or at least ‘acceptable’.

I say it would be nice to just draw for fun,
but to me, part of the art is having somebody look at it.
That finishes the drawing.
~ Mary Engelbreit 

Sure, it is nice to make art for pleasure, and I love the communal experience of taking a workshop and oohing and aahing over everyone else’s talent. But I still want to have my work recognized, too.

The self-curated (meaning just submitting gets you a spot) shows are a pleasure to be part of. I like putting my work out there and supporting a new gallery or studio. If it wasn’t for getting into those earlier this year I wouldn’t even be sending in the juried submissions.

“… it seems to me that a good work of art might offer
a sort of double-happiness.

Standing in front of a fine painting, you might thrill
to the colors on the canvas,

or marvel at the artist’s brushwork.
And later, if the work is good, you’ll remember the painting
in terms of its message, the particular chord struck by its imagery,
and, perhaps, how it subtly shifted your point of view.”
~ Jessica Kerwin Jenkins

But, like Captain Awkward above says, and most of us know, having one’s work rejected/not included stings every time. It stings to be set aside in any situation, no matter if there is an opportunity to try again next time. Art is no different from dating, from job promotions, from group projects, from party invitations. When we dedicate ourselves to something, we don’t want to hear, “sorry, but your efforts don’t mean anything you didn’t make the cut.”

So I will put in another round of submissions, and get my hopes up again. With each rejection slip I am eliminating another ‘what if,’ and improving my own submission process along the way. If submitting art work is a game of odds, I will at some point skew the ratio between juried acceptance and rejection the other way.

“Lots of people limit their possibilities by giving up easily.
Never tell yourself this is too much for me. It’s no use. I can’t go on.
If you do you’re licked, and by your own thinking too.
Keep believing and keep on keeping on.”
~ Norman Vincent Peale 


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