Jurying an exhibition is always a challenging task. The selected works will always be a reflection of the aesthetic philosophy of the individual making the choices. With that being said, I wanted to share my approach to how I selected the awards and juried the exhibition.
When selecting the awards I created some criteria for each type of award so my decisions could be rooted in something a little concrete and not simply be based on my "gut" feelings. I saw the awards as different categories divided as discipline awards, merit awards, year-of-study awards and scholarships.
Creativity, craftsmanship, ingenuity, command of materials and knowledge of process were the criteria I applied t the individual disciplines. I was looking to see how the artist took advantage of the medium and all it had to offer to manifest their ideas. The merit awards went to works that were strong within their disciplines and also as individual pieces aesthetically and creatively. When selecting the freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior (year-of-study) awards, I was looking at how the work reflected the level of development. Each year level of visual complexity, understanding of materials and maturity of concept is expected to increase in the execution of work. The scholarship awards were influenced by potential and initiative as much as artistic excellence. These awards were given in the spirit of recognizing the artist, the body of work and the creative potential that I hope the scholarship will encourage to further study their given mediums.
My philosophy of jurying the overall show was an attempt to be as objective as one can with very subjective criteria. In each work I was looking at a craftsmanship (technique/process), concept (idea/creativity/ingenuity) and its aesthetics (composition/color theory/surface/overall gestalt). For me, a successful work is strong in all three of these areas which gives the piece an opportunity to stand on its own. I was also looking to see if the work went past the obvious solutions and tried to be more nuanced or subtle with the subject matter. A final criteria was simple. Did the piece stand on its own and tell me a story, share an insight, make a statement, or communicate an idea? Ultimately the work has to engage the viewer at some level and all the work I selected possessed this quality to me.
Take these selections in the spirit of them being the opinion of just one individual. A person who had the pleasure of spending a full day around artwork and then sharing his experience of that day with others in the form of an exhibition.
Paul Andrew Wandless
Assistant Professor of Art
Harold Washington College