I thought it would be interesting to share insight with a behind-the-scenes glimpse into what takes place, in order to get things ready for the jurying process of the SAA Annual show. So, the SAA Executive Director, Wes, has kindly listed out deadlines for the different tasks and processes that must happen beforehand.
~ 6 Months Ahead ~
The prospectus and entry form is created after confirming any updates and special circumstances. Since last year, the SAA forms are online now. Only a handful of members still submit paper forms.
~ 4 Months Out ~
Distribute the prospectus and entry form and set all deadlines. The SAA Jury Chairman selects the jury which is an extremely daunting task.
(The Chairman must choose jurors that accepted artists will see as brilliant, insightful and full of good taste. At the same time, these jurors must be seen by rejected artists as blind in one eye and unable to see out of the other, lacking all discernment of quality in art.)
(And most challenging of all . . . each juror MUST be able to identify artists works when presented in random order with signatures removed!)
~ Around February 1st ~
Start receiving and sorting entry materials. It starts as a trickle at first, before turning into a flood at the end! So many to do ... with so little time remaining!
~ Deadline Time ~
Entries are processed with forms and artwork sorted ... double check for errors, remove signatures from artwork and assign random numbers. Prep the slide show for the jury, and then test and retest it!
~ Jury Time ~
Nine jurors spend all day jurying the submitted artworks. They work independently of each other without speaking and vote “yes” with a white marble or black for “no” which are placed inside a cup. The President, who is not on the jury, counts the votes and announces the results after each work is presented. The Executive Director is managing the slide show and recording all the votes inside a spreadsheet. Typically, six yes votes are “in” and 5 are “maybe”.
Results are tallied and while the jury takes a break the Executive Director determines where the numbers stand with the required works for the exhibition. Since the SAA now only accepts one work per artist, the jury must review again the artists that they chose both entries. The jurors are allowed to discuss the dual entries at this point to finalize their choice. Numbers are tallied once more, and if needed the jury then returns to continue jurying the “in or maybe” votes by highest scores to reach the final show.
That evening, the jury previews the selected show for the first time in its entirety. (Jurors are then escorted by SAA security teams back to their safe houses to live the rest of their lives in secrecy.)
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the behind-the-scenes look at the jurying process for the annual show.
* Please note that sentences in parenthesis and italicized are purely for a touch of humor and not for real!
Rachelle Siegrist for the SAA