Last night, I applied to and was juried to be recognized into the prestigious group of exhibiting members of ACGA—Association of Clay and Glass Artists of California.
I thought I had been proud of my work, confident of my artistry and craftsmanship, but the level of vulnerability of this challenge made me question my purpose and passion. Am I as good as I think I am, good as I’ve been told by my family and friends? Does my work speak to my individuality? Does my display show lack of maturity as an artist? Et cetera et cetera.
I arrived at Fort Mason Center Building C at 4:15 and at 5pm, after months of preparation—from making new pieces to forcing everyone close to me to judge my work and display to the point of exhaustion—I rolled my handy-dandy cart of 1 Tupperware bin of work, one shelf riser and black table-cloth into a white-walled room lit only with fluorescent overhead lighting. Staked out a corner space where I can place a 3′ x 6′ table on an angle and started setting up…took all of 20 minutes, kind of anti-climatic, really. Another 20 minutes of fidgeting the pieces an 1/8th of an inch in all direction, I called it “the best I can do today.”
There were 13 other hopeful clay and glass artists waiting for the judging to begin. There were 6 jurors, both clay and glass professionals, 1 moderator and 1 recorder (oh, what I would have given to be a fly on the wall!). We waited in another room, away from nosy and curious artists, mingling nervously. Some candidates were already dismissive with comments like, “if I don’t get in/if they don’t like my work, I’m not bothering to try again” and “I heard people have to try several times to get in”. Others seem highly confident, boasting of all of their sales and gallery accomplishments. Me, I was just grateful that in 3 hours time, I can pack up and pat myself on the back of my accomplishment in having challenged myself and presented work worth the critique of other professionals.
Jurors walked in at 7pm and walked out at 8:30pm. What does it mean when they finished so fast? Should we be concerned? Many wondered and worried. I packed up and 15 minutes later, I drove out of the parking lot. My fear of rejection didn’t get the best of me and regardless of the outcome, I am humbled by the process and glad to have experienced it.
And yes, if I don’t get accepted this time, I will learn and try, try again.