The wise juror
Robert Genn May 15, 2009 Dear Rodney, Yesterday, among the email that came in for the launch of The Painter's Post, there was a note from Pam Ryan of Wilmette, Illinois. She attached a letter she received from an anonymous juror after one of her works was rejected from an exhibition. It was a thoughtful, tasteful, perhaps boilerplate letter that said in part: "Whether or not your work was included in this show should not discourage you from continuing your artistic pursuits." The juror told how, in a similar situation, she had had her photographs rejected by four different jurors for four different reasons. The juror went on to say: "It's vital for any artist to nurture and protect that which makes their vision unique. One needs to go inward instead of outward and learn to trust your own inner guide." "If you have one rule to follow," she wrote, "I suggest cultivating a dialogue with your inner voice, listening to the clues your own images offer." This is not unwarranted praise or gratuitous esteem building. It's an expression of one of the basic truths of art. It brings to mind the very real question of how much one really needs from anyone else. It seems to me that the act of art is at its best when the interaction simply takes place between the artist and the work itself--outside the world of criticism and inside the world of inner knowledge. I compare each creative effort to the solo assent of a steep mountain where the path is jagged and crossed with crevasses and fissures. Only a strong shot of personal desire gets you to the top. No tour guide or outrageous misfortune can spoil the hike--nor can gratuitous praise or commercial success. Art just is. Each work of art is its own mountain, its own beauty and reward. "Listening to the clues your own images offer," is the key to the juror's wisdom. While knowledge of tools and the love of motif may be in your backpack, and all mountains may be measured by their previous heroes, art must exist for you in a place beyond the judgment of others. Best regards, Robert PS: "Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens." (Carl Jung) http://quote.robertgenn.com/auth_search.php?name=Carl+Jung Esoterica: This commitment comes in different supply to each of us. The imaginative may need to focus, while the naturally focused may need to develop and build the soft muscles of imagination. Here's an exercise: Slow your breathing, review in your mind's eye your vision, glance at the clock and fixate on the work at hand for an hour. Be deliberate, steady and patient. Be audacious, clever and generous. Let your strokes be sensitive and brave, as if you were participating in a mutual, loving act. Look, think, stroke. Leave your strokes alone. The circle will not be broken.