I have been fortunate over the years to have my work hang in a lot of different venues and it’s always a thrill when I get a notice that my work has been accepted for an exhibit. But believe me I get a lot of rejection notices too. One of the things I have learned over the years is that it’s important to do my research before submitting my work to make sure it’s a good fit. It can be costly to submit work to a call and the cost adds up quickly if you are submitting to several shows a year. Here are the three things that I look at carefully at before I hit the submit button…
Theme: Does my work fit the theme? The chances of getting accepted to a call increase substantially if you give a lot of thought and consideration to making sure that the work you are submitting represents the theme. If you work in an abstract style then make sure your artist statement is tailored for your submission. Don’t assume that the work will speak for itself or that the jurors will be able to make a connection between your work and the theme. Don’t try to force your work into a theme or category that it doesn’t really fit into. You’re better off saving your submission fee and finding a call that is more suitable for your work.
Jurors: Most calls will list who the jurors are and a little about them. I always take it one step further and google them to see if I can find their website or blog if they have one and any additional information about them. Sometimes it gives me a little insight into the type of work they do and might be drawn to. It might tell me if they have any experience with textiles and how much jurying experience they have. Does what type of work they do mean thats the only type they are interested in? No of course not but it does give me another level of information to consider before I spend my money on a submission fee.
Venue: is the venue that the exhibit will hang in appropriate for my work? For instance, I wouldn’t submit my work to a venue that is interested in traditional quilts because it just wouldn’t fit with the venue. Same goes for a fine art venue – my esthetic and my construction/hanging methods probably wouldn’t be well received. If it’s available I look at previous exhibits and the type of work that has hung there. That gives me a good idea of the type of work that they prefer to hang.
So how do you find a call to submit your work to? Here are just a few resources for you. This is by no means a complete list but it’s a place to start.
International Quilt Festival:
There are two avenues for submitting your work to IQF. You can submit your work to a variety of special exhibits that are on display each year. It typically costs nothing to submit your work to a special exhibit. The exhibits are juried but they are not judged which means that they are not eligible for prizes or ribbons. Before you dismiss them as not worth your time consider that the special exhibits hang in the same arena as the judged World of Beauty exhibit so they are a great way to get your work in front of a lot of eyes. Information on special exhibits can be found on the Quilts Inc website here. You should consider joining their mailing list or following them on facebook or instagram to stay up to date on their shows.
World of Beauty is the juried and judged show that premiers at IQF in Houston each year. Information on submitting to that is on their website here. The deadline for submission each year is usually around the end of May and you will have to be a member of IQA to submit.
ArtCall: ArtCall is online registration site that a lot of venues use to manage their submission when they put out a call for art.
Professional Artist Magazine (one of my favorite magazines).
Quiltcon: Put on by the Modern Quilt Guild every year in a different place around the US.
AQS has six shows a year
Mancuso show management has four shows a year
Still can’t find a call that is right for you? Try a google search for “textile art exhibition opportunities” or “quilt show calls for art” You might also do a search for museums and galleries in your area that have open calls for exhibitions that they are hosting. You could search for a local quilt guild that is organizing a show and this website might be a place to start your search.
When you do find a call that you want to submit to make sure that you read the prospectus very carefully and then read it again. Make sure that the piece you are submitting is the right size, configuration and that it fits the call. Don’t waste your hard earned money submitting to calls just for the sake of submitting! When I find calls that I think I want to submit my work to or make a new piece for I print the prospectus out and write the deadline for submission and the size requirements on the top right hand corner of the top sheet. I keep all of the calls that I am considering in a clear folder on my desk sorted by deadline date and I refer to the folder every few days. This helps keep me organized and I am less likely to miss a deadline. When you are ready to submit your work follow the rules for photography and make sure you have a well crafted artist statement (if the call requires it) to accompany the piece you are submitting. You’ll find some helpful information about photographing your quilt here and writing an artist statement here. And should your submission not get accepted you might find this post about rejection helpful.