I was recently in two shows where there were competitions and judging involved. I judge for the Hershey Camera Club, the Harrisburg Camera Club and a few other organizations. I tell the people whom I am judging that my remarks are those of one person. I try to make remarks that are part of an opportunity to learn. I also want it clear that it is my opinion. Art deals in opinion. I want them to know that showing their art to others is a bit like putting your soul out there, only without taking it personally. It is like hitting a golf ball. Once it leaves your club, there is nothing more that you can do. Once your art is on display, there is nothing more that you can do. It is a helpless and scary feeling. You put it out there and hope for the best.
How do I know this? I had work judged over the weekend. I did everything that I suggest that others not do. I was nervous and felt like I had bared my soul for others to stare at. I was a bit confused by some of the judge's remarks and choices. I felt let down when I didn't win what I had hoped to. I wanted to whine, but knew it would be bad form. I had feelings that were best kept to myself.
You might say that I did the very thing that I want others not to do when they are judged and you would be right. No matter how many times we are told that our art looks good or looks bad, we can't separate ourselves from the art and it causes feelings to well up. Good comments mean that our art is good, and the part of us that we are showing in our art is good. Bad comments about our art, of course, show that the person knows not of what they speak. Hopefully. The point is that it is impossible to separate ourselves from our art because it is a part of us. It reveals what we love, how we feel, how we look at things, and what we think is important. If it sends that message, then it is good. If someone else does not see it, either we need to make our art more clear, or they need to educate themselves about art and how it works.
The next time I stand in front of a group to judge their work. I will try to remember how I felt when I did not win. I will know that no matter how many times I ask them not to take it personally, it is impossible. Our art is part of our soul. That is why being judged is so hard.