A Conversation with Jessica Daman - jeweler
2008 Mount Gretna 3D Juror
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| The Jury Process
| There were approximately 500 applications for 280 spaces.
Thirty of those spaces were judges choice awards and three of the four
jurors were exhibiting artists and were given jury exempt spaces. The
images were projected four across; two each on two six foot projection
screens. The jurors were instructed that Mount Gretna is a family type
show and they wanted high quality work that fit in a family atmosphere.
Nudes were OK as long as they were done tastefully. We were told to stay
away from jewelry and leather kits. They also mentioned that they’ve been
seeing a lot of imported oriental art that isn’t made by the people
applying and we were asked us to keep an eye out for it. The majority of
slides were pretty good. I saw a lot of really high quality work in all
mediums. Now I won’t feel bad next time I get turned down for a show
because I know it isn’t anything personal. It's just that there is a lot
of really great work and a limited number of spaces.
| We looked at the images for 15 seconds and read the
artist statements. But if anyone had a question, we would read it out loud
and discuss it among ourselves. The show director did not at any time
instruct as to how we should score or offer opinions on the artists. We
also did not indicate to each other how we scored. The scoring was done on
a scale of one to five. As a juror I did not feel pressured to consider
work based on having a balanced show, just to choose the best work. I also
made an effort to score work based on its technical skill, composition,
and creativity etc., rather than my own personal tastes. We also had the
authority to stop the slide show to ask questions about the work, if they
were applying in the correct category, discuss whether the person applying
made the work, or if we needed to reexamine the booth slide. We could also
request that the image be zoomed in to see detail.
| The Artist Statement
| I wish that ZAPP would allow more than a hundred
characters for a clearer description. If you weren’t familiar with a
process it made it difficult to understand what the artist was doing. I am
a jeweler and have an art degree and used to do ceramics, so I did have a
general understanding of a lot of processes. The juror sitting next to me
was a ceramist who also seemed very knowledgeable, asked what “ss” meant
in a jeweler’s artist statement and I explained that it meant sterling
silver. She originally had thought it meant stainless steel. I don’t think
I would know this either if I didn’t make jewelry so being able to type in
a few extra characters in the artist statement would really help.
| When you do your artist statement, make sure to spell
everything right. In some cases the mistakes were kind of funny but it
doesn’t help you to get noticed that way.
| The jurors all commented on this. A few of the artist
statements had words like “great” or “superb” or “fantastic”. It came
across as being really egotistical. If your work is great, we’ll see it.
When I read an artist statement, I want to read about how the work is
created, not read that it may be a superior work of art. And someone
actually used all capital letters to reinforce it (laughing).
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| The Booth Slide
| The booth slide was important because if someone did a
certain type of work, we would look at the individual art slides to see if
there was similar work with the same quality or characteristics that was
in the booth slide. For example, if they were showing all sculptures of
fish in their slides and they’re showing little yard art in the booth,
then you’re going to see a difference in what they’re jurying in with and
what they’re selling. The whole booth didn’t have to be made up with it
but you wanted to see at least a couple of examples of what was in the
| I saw one artist in particular that juried in a category
other than jewelry. They had some of those things from their slides in the
booth but over half of their booth was jewelry. Since they weren’t jurying
in the jewelry category, the jury looked negatively upon that.
| There were two people that sent in booth slides showing
an empty tent. I also saw chairs in the way of booths and people in a few
of the booth shots.
| Image Tips
| In the 3D categories some of the backgrounds didn’t
match, which surprised me because they might be really high quality
photographs of the work. I asked the other jurors whether it was important
to them and they said yes, it bothered them when the backgrounds weren’t
identical. All the jurors thought that cohesiveness was important for a
| It seemed to me, and the other jurors seemed to agree,
that work that was photographed well is more likely to get accepted than
work that is not photographed as well.
| In all mediums, there was a lot of high quality work but
there wasn’t as much pluralism (uniqueness) of style as I would have liked
to seen. The pieces that stood out were unique. They might have been
unique in materials and though I might have seen something similar before,
I don’t necessarily see a lot of it.
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| There were maybe two or three jewelry submissions that I
felt were buy/sell, and I don’t have a lot of tolerance for that. In one
instance, I’m looking at what looks like Bali silver with a lot of
granulation and detailed cut work. When I looked at their booth slide,
they had a low rent flea market type display of an EZUp and a few card
tables with necklace displays, no cases and all mismatched fabric. I’m
looking at the work and I’m looking at the setup and I said that if I made
work with that much detail, I certainly would not display it in that way.
Another juror said that it was a valid point and that I was probably
right. If I had spent that much time creating work like that, it would
have been in display cases and not spread out on card tables.
| If you sell baby clothing, pictures of babies wearing the
clothing can be a distraction. As a matter of fact, I didn’t remember what
the clothing looked like but I did remember what the babies looked like.
| And with clothing, we would have liked to zoom in a lot
closer to see the detail. Even though we were able to zoom in, we would
have liked to zoom in more. Maybe the work could have been photographed
| Jewelry Slide Tips
| You need to keep in mind that the backgrounds should
match and try to jury in with work that doesn’t have the look that
everybody seems to be doing right now. Does it have technique, does it
have form, is the composition good and is the workmanship good. It either
needs to be unique or be something that catches your eye. The jewelry
category was twenty percent of the total number of applications. Some of
the slide sets were so similar in style that I felt that you could have
put ten of them together and said that they were the same artist’s work.
So anything that sets you apart is going to help.
| What I took away from the experience for my own
| The jewelry category is fierce with a lot of stiff
competition and I have been shooting my own jury slides. Compared to what
I saw, mine are just OK, so I’ve decided that if I want to get into the
best shows, I need to hire a great photographer to take the pictures
because I think that could give me an edge.
| I feel that any artist that gets the opportunity to
observe a jury should jump at the chance. It really opens your eyes and
puts your work in perspective. I learned more in that one day than I
probably would have learned in three years of just looking at my own
slides. You can see what you need to do differently, what other people are
doing well, and where you stand as far as your own work. Seeing the slides
projected one set after another makes seeing trends in mediums easier than
going from booth to booth.
| I was really honored to sit on the jury and it was an
invaluable experience for me. I felt that the people who ran it had the
artist’s best interests in mind and tried to do an equitable job. I really
did my best to jury with a fair and open mind especially when it came to
the jewelry category as I would hope another jewelry artist would do the
same for me.
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