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Observing The Jury Process
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The Broad Ripple Art Fair Jury Process
by Jon Hecker

posted to the NAIA forum and republished with Jon's permission

Being that this discussion is fresh on many of our minds, I would like to share some thoughts on another slide jury. Pat and I just returned home from a day in Indianapolis, where we had the opportunity to sit in on the public viewing of the slide jurying for the Broad Ripple Art Fair coming up in May.

We got there late in the day, after 80% of the categories had been viewed, so the public attendance was scarce at that hour. Nonetheless, we learned a lot from just being there.

Julia Moore, the director of the art festival, directed five jurors through the process. The process was routine: A quick run through of all the slides in a given category, then the scoring took place with each set of slides projected for about 20 seconds while Julia read aloud the accompanying slide information statement. The jurying was held was a medium size auditorium and all four slides (including one booth slide) were projected simultaneously onto a large screen. The screen wasn't large enough to accommodate all four slides in a single row, so the projectors were arranged to project the slides in a grouping that placed the booth slide in the bottom left corner and the three slides in the center, top right and bottom right. There was a fifth slide projected with each entry. Each applicant was assigned a number which appears on the jurors score sheet and corresponds to the fifth slide projected on the screen. The numerical slide was nothing more than a hand written number in black ink on a clear piece of acetate mounted in a slide mount. It did hog up a corner of the projection screen with its blaring white space in relation to the four slides submitted with each application, but it left no question for the jurors to follow along and keep track of where they were. Overall, a good idea.

I could not detect any verbal dialog among the jurors, so I presume their scoring was based solely on their knowledge and personal preference. The five jurors consisted of an artist whose medium is drawing, a museum curator and art historian, a metalsmith who also teaches at a university level, a sculptor/ 3-D designer who is a member of the Indianapolis Art Center faculty and a local art and craft gallery owner.

The score sheets were collected at the end of each session by a member of the Art Center staff and will be put into an Excel spreadsheet for final tabulation. It will be about two to three weeks when the final results will be mailed to the applicants. I do not believe any comments about your slides will be made available, but a score sheet will be provided indicating your three scores (for craftsmanship, originality and market appeal) along with the cut-off point for your medium. If you did not submit a booth slide, some points were deducted from your final score. Scoring was based on a scale of 1 to 7. The Art Center provided me with a thorough set of their jurying guidelines. Their "charge to the jurors" are that the work be well-conceived, expertly executed, free of technical faults, imaginative, individual and saleable to customers in the greater Indianapolis market. A diversity of styles and approaches should be chosen so that the fair appeals to the greatest variety of customers.

Their last bit of direction, determining marketability to the customers, is probably the weakest criteria in terms of judging the work on its aesthetic and technical merits but the Art Center felt it necessary in order to compose an event for mass appeal in Indianapolis. These were just the criteria set forth for this event and it has evolved over a number of years.


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