Rejection is part of the creative game. All creatives submit themselves to the possibility if they dare to share their work. The beginning of every year marks the deluge of new calls for submissions for visual artists. They are usually for juried shows of varying caliber and size of space. Some I skip over, others I covet.
Since we are about half way through the year the inevitable rejection letters roll in. They usually begin by saying how much the jury appreciated my application, however, “we regret to inform you that…please apply again”. After a few years, preferably a few months, we develop what is known as thick skins or we pull out of the game all together.
I am in for the long haul. I have never kept track of the numbers but to give you an idea, the Artist Collective “Devenir” for which I am a founding member, recently presented a text about our history. In two years, we have submitted over nine hundred applications and received eight hundred and seventy odd rejections. We are doing very well. And we are looking for more efficient ways to reduce the time involved with each attempt.
For every one of us, rejection must be put into perspective. Most of the time it is not about me. Artists number in the thousands. The calls receive hundreds, if not thousands of submissions each. The jury has a difficult task from the get go. Then the jury members themselves have their own tastes and preferences. They may find it difficult to agree. In the end it may be about how they rolled out of bed that morning and what they had for breakfast.
Rejection has another side to it as well. We all make choices. Life is filled with choices. Every time we make a choice we reject something. I find it difficult to say “no”. I serve my family and my community as well as my art practice, a balancing act difficult to manage at times. Deadlines make “no” easier. Having a group to which I am accountable, makes “no” easier. Choosing something does not mean I do not care about the other. I do my best to love well. Finally, the story is not about me; it is about us. It is about finding the rhythm in the dance of life, a dance requiring forgiveness and mercy.
Harcourt House is hosting two exhibitions at the moment, a member show “In Search of Human Essence” and the Naked Show “Figuratively Speaking“. Applications to the Naked Show involve submitting five drawings completed during the previous year, three of which have a possibility of being part of the exhibition. This year, for the first time, three were selected. The drawing at the top is one of the rejections. All is well. Check out the details here.