How to Beat the Jury

by Wendy Rosen

There was a time when only the best shows were juried shows. When the jury was the ultimate arbitrator between what is good and bad. This is no longer true.


Man Peering through Magnifying Glass - Isolated


Today, few shows hire jurors and most selection processes are behind closed doors without benefit of peer review. And that’s not all bad. While some juried competitions still have integrity, most are not as fair and equitable as they once were. Like with any system or procedure, eventually people game the system.

How does this happen? As far back as thirty years ago, artists were submitting multiple applications under different names – one from the wife, one from the husband, using maiden name, misspelled names, etc. using different slides and bodies of work to increase their chances.

Others decided to do it by finding out who the jurors were in advance, calling  up and asking, coyly, to “wink wink” review their slides before applying to an important show, thereby making the images no longer anonymous.

Then there are the number of people who make work similar to other people. Jurors never know whether they are looking at the original or a clever copy.

Some submit slides, but never bring the work to the show that fits their images. Some shows are too big to notice.

Finally, there is the more recent adaptation, the digital “embellishment” of images which misrepresent the actual work – making even the worst look much better.

Better selection processes now in place provide background information on the artist, their sources, who they know, what shows they do so that you can get a more well rounded understanding of exactly who they are. This makes the system no longer anonymous, but more transparent. And in my opinion, that’s an improvement.



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