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updated fri 11 jan 02


Sheryl VanVleck on thu 10 jan 02

I have several questions.
1. Has anyone ever heard of ARTWORK, a competition by Impact Unlimited, an
international exhibit company? The competition is free to enter. It states:
"please send the following: 20 samples of your work on a)CD b)indicate
website url c)slides in plastic sleeve." There is no "OR" "AND" or whatever,
so I am assuming (don't even say it) that I can send a CD. Any thoughts?
The bad thing is the company wants no contact. Hmmmmmmmm! No phone calls,
only mail. Try their internet site. It's interesting but you cannot contact
them, it's all on password.
2. My work has gone and does go from being very realistic painting,
functional pottery, to surrealistic painting and abstract sculptural pieces.
It seems that it is wrong to lump this all together. We have to be put in a
box. So, i may enjoy doing one more than another and I may have grown from
one to another, but I can still have a flashback and do the other. But, if I
want entry to a Master's program, I not that I'm still thinking of that at
age 54, but I still am told I need a "cohesive body of work." In this
particular competition, I can find nothing indicating what this company wants
but the payoff could be good. I suppose it is a sudden death situation to
include a growth of work, showing a little of each to show I can do it,
RIGHT? Any thoughts out there????
Sheryl in Wyoming.
Flurries yesterday, sunny sky today and I am pretty sure, high fire danger
this summer, if we don't get some of that snow soon. I think our antelope
are going to be pretty hungry too.

Snail Scott on thu 10 jan 02

At 12:51 PM 1/10/02 EST, Sheryl wrote:
>...I still am told I need a "cohesive body of work."
>...I suppose it is a sudden death situation to
>include a growth of work, showing a little of each to show I can do it...

I believe it is possible to show diverse works in a
single portfolio, but only up to a point.

Pick your best images, then start culling the ones that
are aesthetic or conceptual 'outliers'. When you've
narrowed it down to the 20 most similar works, then
arrange them in a manner that at least implies a
progression, or the development of a direction. This may
mean they're not chronological, but you should focus on
how they'll look when viewed sequentially.

'Cohesiveness' can mean many things, but if you've been
doing you work for a while, you may find common threads
thoughout the work that you never realized were there.
Play up those aspects! There are many places to find
similarities...content, size, color, surface treatments,
etc. Some of these characteristics may seem superficial
or trivial, but they'll help the work read in a more
unified way. For instance, you may have pots and sculpture
included sequentially, but if they're similar colors, or
have similar surfaces, the transition will be less jarring
to the viewer. Also, make sure you have no 'stand-alones'.
If your final 20 slides includes only one painting, or
only one large-scale object, or only one brightly-colored
piece, ditch it. Or give it the company of some similar

You may have to exclude an entire series of work, to
attain sufficient cohesiveness. Do it. You can always
show that work somewhere else. Variety is for lifetime-
achievement awards, and maybe for job interviews. Not for
juried competitions.

Photography counts toward the appearance of consistency,
too. If you've only got a couple of things shot against
a certain-color backdrop, for instance, those things will
stand out as divergent, even if the objects themselves
are similar to others.

Judging is primarily a visual process. If you need to pick
between thematic/conceptual similarity and merely visual
similarity, go with the visual. Unless the work makes
it past the first 'cut', they won't have time to really
scrutinize it for content. Unfortunate, but true.

You want the judge(s) to remember when reviewing their
notes, 'Oh, yeah, THAT work', not 'Oh, was that all the
same person?'

They don't generally want to know that you can do some
of everything. They do want to know that you're not a
dilettante, an random unprofessional dabbler. And however
superficial and unfair it may seem, that 'cohesive body
of work' is what they're looking for as proof.

Evidence of 'growth', OK. A 'little of everything', no.


By the way, it's pretty typical for show sponsors to
discourage personal contact, I think in part to avoid
unfair bias, and also to avoid swamping the office staff
(maybe one part-time person) with receptionist duties.
And yes, it sounds like one CD is an appropriate format.

p.s.s. what's the prize? Most 'live' competitions a least
offer an exhibition opportunity. What's the carrot? And
what's in it for them? Most sponsors expect a percentage
of sales, unless they're non-profit. What's their vig?