Disappointment. If you want to make a career out of your art, you better make sure you have a few strategies to deal with it, including having a pretty thick hide and a very strong sense of humour.
Last week the finalists were released for the ‘Mandorla’ Art Award. The annual Mandorla prize is Australia’s biggest Christian art award and is held here in Perth. Each year they release a theme and artists are asked to respond to the theme with their own interpretation. It’s a fabulous prize and always receives hundreds of entries.
Sadly, out of the hundreds, a significantly smaller percentage are chosen as finalists. I entered for the first time this year and like many, didn’t make the cut.
And I’m OK with that. I’ll try again next year…and the year after that…
As a first attempt at a themed art prize and writing the artist statement and bio that accompanies it, I am happy with my entry and to be honest, would have been knocked over with a paintbrush HAD I been selected!
Artist statement – “The resurrection of Jesus is the foundational teaching of Christianity; an assurance of forgiveness of sin and that we too shall be raised to a new life in Christ. The rising of the human form from the cross is symbolic of this promise and hope. That from death and sorrow, there is joy and peace when we live our lives in accordance to God’s will. Scarlet Red bathers symbolise sin; the water is symbolic of our baptism, the death of self, our regeneration and cleansing from sin. The painting is titled ‘My Peace I give to You’. This is God’s gift to us from the resurrection, a deep inner peace, as we often find when floating in water and that comes from union with and confidence in God.”
I opened the email , shrugged my shoulders at the usual ‘Thanks but no thanks’ wording and moved on pretty quickly from the initial disappointment (there is always a fraction of disappointment, don’t get me wrong!) But unfortunately there was a little stuff up with the system and the curator accidentally listed everyone’s emails, hundreds of them, in the rejection letter. Oops.
It would appear that some people don’t handle rejection so well…
My inbox over the next three days was inundated with people voicing their opinion of the curator and how ‘unethical it was to reject them so publicly’. Some emails were nicely upbeat and jovial. Some…not so much.
It was a MISTAKE. Mistakes happen, especially when it involves a simple push of a keyboard button. They had not intended to make the rejection so public. It is a shame that some folks couldn’t cut the curator some slack. I do not think they would have set out that morning to embarrass as many people as possible…and they did apologise.
What made this simple mistake worse is the conversation that followed it…the use of our emails by various people to make conversation about the art prize, I believe, was far worse than the initial mail out mistake. We then received another huge amount of emails with people asking to be taken off the ensuing email conversation. All in all, it was a huge waste of time and deleting for everyone.
In my few short years as a full-time artist, I have clocked up quite a few rejection letters for juried shows. Initially I didn’t handle the rejection quite as matter of fact as I do now. There have been tears in the past and I’m sure there will still be more at times…but, its part of the game. Rejection means you are working, experimenting, failing and picking yourself up again. It means you are putting yourself out there and if you keep doing that hard enough and long enough, eventually there will be more acceptances than rejections.
So, my professional advice when you receive a rejection letter is, to just put on your big girl/ big boy paint smock and get on with making your art…prove them wrong people, it’s the only way.