Antoinette Badenhorst on thu 22 apr 04
If you have to define a "body of artwork" what would you like to see?
What do you consider as an artist's style; is it ALL one glaze, one
shape, one type of decoration, one shape..or can it be a combining
inspiration. I am not sure if I make my question clear, so let me give a
scenario; If I have to decide what to offer to a gallery in order for
them to except my work, should I show them just one "topic" or should I
let them decide what they like if I have different styles? If I have to
enter work for a competition; is it better to just send slides with
bottles or plates or vases, or should I send a mix?
I spent all of yesterday looking at galleries across the country on the
internet and I saw so many beautiful pottery pieces and I came to the
conclusion that after 23 years in pottery, I am just a beginner!
105 Westwood Circle
662 869 1651
SusanRaku@AOL.COM on thu 22 apr 04
In a message dated 4/22/2004 3:19:24 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
> I am not sure if I make my question clear, so let me give a
> scenario; If I have to decide what to offer to a gallery in order for
> them to except my work, should I show them just one "topic" or should I
> let them decide what they like if I have different styles? If I have to
> enter work for a competition; is it better to just send slides with
> bottles or plates or vases, or should I send a mix?
I have worked as a juror in the last few years for the Kentucky Guild and the
Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver, as well as local art organizations.
However my opinion is just mine and thus subjective.
In a body of work it is important that I can tell that t is done by the same
person and carries the same personality. That does not mean that the pieces
have to be the same in color or form. There may be a connection due to
technique, design, or firing process... a unique statement resulting from the
form, surface, etc.
In entering work for a competition this is very important. Showing too much
(different clays, different techniques, different firing processes) is
confusing to a juror and may even present a problem in obtaining a feel for the
consistency of the quality.
Mixing pieces together, such as a plate, cup, or saucer is fine as long as
the placement enhances the image. I would be very careful not to get too many
things in the same shot though..... maybe up to three.
In working with a gallery there is more leniency. If there are no
restrictions on the number of slides you can send, send one set of slides per body of
work and let the owner select what he/she wants. It is important that the
gallery owner be excited about what they are selling so I always try to find out
what they respond to most strongly. For example, a gallery owner contacted
me recently and I invited him to come to my studio. There he will see a body
of raku as well as a body of wall sculptures and decorative stoneware.
When I am restricted as to what to send and cannot make a choice I project
the slides on the wall and let my photographer friends respond to the images.
Hope this helps.
Snail Scott on fri 23 apr 04
At 10:17 AM 4/22/04 -0500, Antoinette wrote:
>If you have to define a "body of artwork" what would you like to see?
>...If I have to decide what to offer to a gallery in order for
>them to except my work, should I show them just one "topic" or should I
>let them decide what they like if I have different styles? If I have to
>enter work for a competition; is it better to just send slides with
>bottles or plates or vases, or should I send a mix?
'Body of work' means different things in different
contexts. Some situations require a more cohesive
set of work than others. As a general rule, though,
all the work should look like the work of one person.
Not because they don't want variety, but because
they want a sense that you are a mature artist or
artisan, and have developed your work in depth, not
For your gallery example, you might show a variety
of different work, but each type should have multiple
examples: in effect, 'multiple bodies of work', with
evidence of an ongoing commitment to that form or
style for EACH type of work. When applying to be
represented by a gallery, there's not usually a limit
on the number of images, so make sure that there's
plenty of each. If there is a body of work without
enough examples, skip it. Show them that work later,
when it, too, is more developed.
If you are doing eight radically different things at
the same time, are you really able to develop each
one properly? Probably not, and it will show. Focus
on the most promising; I'd say not more than three.
You can always go back to the others someday. Radical
diversity is a nice thing, but it's a luxury that only
hobbyists can afford. If you want to be seen as a
professional, you need to be focused (or at least be
perceived to be so).
For craft fairs, diversity is something they will
achieve by admitting multiple artists with differing
styles, not one artist who tries to do everything.
You may think that they'll say "Well, we didn't like
the functional dinnerware, but the animal figurines
will be great" or some such, but it really only makes
you look like a dilettante whose booth might look like
a mini-fair of its own. They'll want depth, not breadth.
Find a common thread between the pieces. It may be color,
pattern, function, or some less definable aspect of
'style', but they should seem like the work of one
person, not a committee. Even if you do multiple types
of work, you won't be allowed to show enough slides to
demonstrate depth in multiple areas. So pick one. Try
the other work in a different show, but not both in one.
What makes a cohesive body of work in this narrowest
sense? Not one form only, or one glaze, either; think
in terms of a unifying aesthetic. Not the same item in
different disguises, but a sense that all these things
go well together. Can you imagine them arranged
together on a display? 'Diversity' should take the
form of a range of price categories, perhaps: big and
small, or plain and fancy, or basic and 'eye-catcher',
but they should all look like relatives. If you've got
a few odd things that you thing might spice up the
booth, you may be right, but don't put them in your
entry slides. Think 'typical'.
Imagine that a fumble-fingered juror drops all the
slides on the floor, and the labels come off half of
them. Will the juror be able to know which works are
by which artist, by the style alone? They should.
For a juried exhibition, you are entering specific
pieces, not 'typical examples'. The need to look like
an artist with a focus does remain, however. They are
betting the reputation of their gallery on you, and
they want to show artists who are professional, not
here today and gone tomorrow. They are going to try to
read a lot of information into those few slides, and
try to construe more information than is really there,
because it's their only source of information. They
may be looking a pictures of art, but they are really
asking "Who are you? Are you for real? Will you make
us look good?" Too much to ask of a few slides, it's
true, but that's how it goes, so look as focused and
professional as possible. Send them one style only.
Send your other body of work to a different show.
still in Reno, NV, USA
Snail Scott (Redirected by \"Janet Kaiser\ on fri 23 apr 04
(Redirected by "Janet Kaiser" )
>If you have to define a "body of artwork" what would you like to
>If I have to decide what to offer to a gallery in order for
>them to except (sic) my work, should I show them just one
"topic" or should I
>let them decide what they like if I have different styles?
As you have written Jurors in the subject line, but Gallery in
the text, Antoinette, I am replying from a gallerist's
Galleries like to see that an artist is producing a great deal
i.e. large body of work which embodies their unique style. That
is reassuring from a commercial perspective if no other. Patrons,
clients, collectors, critics, fellow artists, the public... Well
just about **everyone** likes to be able to recognise the work of
a certain artist WITHOUT looking at the label... Whether vases or
mugs, it does not matter.
At a new venue or when someone is viewing your work for the first
time, they will be looking to see beyond the personal style of
the work to see how far the maker/artist goes to fulfilling the
above Number One priority. Because to reach a high "recognition
level" you have to be capable of producing a lot of work in a
particular personal style.
Do not shout at me for saying so, but a very wide range of
different styles does not reassure the gallery curator in any
way. It smacks of immaturity and a "butterfly mind" on the part
of the artist/maker and most gallerists will know that is a
"negative indicator". Not a good basis for future co-operation,
because they cannot rely on replacement of sold work or
fulfilment of client/patron demand.
Yes, it is a paradox, but the "originality" celebrated by the
artist, is their downfall when it comes to marketability and
therefore reverence in the eyes of gallerists.
Short answer: only submit a selection of work in one style and
medium/method/technique. This is exactly what the Craft Potters
Association of Britain recommend to those applying for membership
and not just gallery prejudice!
Bruce Girrell on mon 26 apr 04
Your response to this topic was the most understandable and useful thing I
have ever seen written on the subject. I especially "got it" when you used
the example of dropping the slides on the floor and figuring out which
slides belonged together.