September 25, 2010

An Interview with the CraftTexas Jurors, Part II

This Friday is the opening of CraftTexas 2010, the sixth in a series of juried exhibitions showcasing the best in Texas-made contemporary craft. To give our audiences a better understanding of the jury process, our three jurors have agreed to answer a few questions.

Below is an interview with Cindy Hickok. Cindy is an internationally acclaimed fiber artist who ingeniously borrows from the “Old Masters” of art history for her clever, embroidered works. Her work has been exhibited in museums throughout Europe, Asia and North America, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Were you familiar with the CraftTexas exhibit series from Houston Center for Contemporary Craft before being asked to be a juror?

Yes. I entered all the CraftTexas and CraftHouston shows. My work was rejected from CraftHouston 2002 and 2004, but accepted in CraftHouston 2006 and CraftTexas 2008.

When reviewing CraftTexas 2010 entries, did you see any common themes in the works submitted?

I saw more combinations of materials. One can no longer say "fiber" or "metal" etc., because artists are combining materials and techniques and defying any one category. Imagination has no boundaries.

How did you choose what entries received the highest marks?

Most of those who entered work are experienced and accomplished artists, so I know their work is good. A juror has to look beyond, to find the really exceptional pieces, especially when only a small percentage will be placed in the exhibition. I look for, first, honesty and integrity in design (which eliminated a lot of gimmicks), then quality construction, and finally, innovation. I wanted each piece to draw me in for a closer look and then to reward me when I did. I also read the artist's titles and explanations for further clarification, as each piece was unique and deserved thorough consideration.

What advice would you give artists wanting to enter CraftTexas 2012, or juried exhibits in general?

An artist will never achieve recognition unless he enters juried shows, and the greater the competition the greater the rewards. The very best artists have all experienced the disappointment of rejection, and one must learn from it. When I receive a rejection notice I mope about it for awhile, then I go through an I'll-show-them attitude, and finally I take a hard look at my work and ask myself how I could have made it better. One learns much more from rejections than from successes.

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