BIMPE VII – The Jurying Process and Jurors’ Statements

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Sam Davidson. The owner and director of Davidson Galleries in Seattle,Wa., Sam earned a BA at Wesleyan University and an MA in Art History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He established the Davidson Galleries in Seattle in 1973.

“It was an honor to serve as a juror for the Biennial International Miniature Exhibition VII (BIMPE VII). As a dealer in original prints I fear that too often those in the commercial print realm are regarded as tainted and only able to see the decorative merits of any group of prints. Fear not. Any unconscious inclination in that direction was countered by my fellow jurors.

My congratulations to Peter Braune, Lesley Anderson and the scores of volunteers for continuing to devote the huge amount of energy required to host such an event. Thank you, too, to the hundreds of artists who offered up their art for consideration. The result was a wonderful range of images and media.

As a former host/sponsor of a international small format print competition ‘Footprints’, in the middle and late 1970’s, I have a clear appreciation of what is involved. Although different from the 1970’s because of a substantial number of digital contributions, this year’s entries showed again what huge spaces and graphic power are possible in a small format.

Those thirteen images that received acknowledgement beyond initial acceptance into the exhibition were representative of the 700+ submissions. In spite of good digital based works, most of the special recognition went to traditional processes. Tomiyuki Sakuta, Yui Koyanagi, Cleo Wilkinson, Christine Ravaux, Kelsey Stephenson, and Annie Woodford chose intaglio. Kouki Tsuritani, Nikki Vahle, and Jim Westergaard sent wood engravings. Sergey Zlotnikov’s haunting narrative scene “Children of the Dark” and David Morrish’s “Ramses” made strong use of photo based techniques.

Many thanks to my fellow jurors, Anna and Jennifer, and especially to Peter and Lesley of New Leaf Editions for making the 2012 BIMPE show such an important gift to the international print community.”

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Jennifer Page. A print artist dedicated to safer methods and technical innovations in the field of traditional photo-etching and photo-gravure on copper, Jennifer has formulated many innovative printmaking processes and founded the Cape Fear Press in North Carolina in 2001.

“I felt very privileged, as well as a great sense of responsibility, when asked to be juror for the BIMPE. Almost a thousand prints were submitted. The prints were placed in a dozen or so binders. As I faced the daunting task of judging them I asked myself what is the most objective and fair way to go about this. It seemed the best way was to go through all the prints once without making any definite judgments to gain a greater scope of the whole, then go through all of them again taking more time with each print. I was very impressed with the range of work and the quality of the various techniques. It was truly a learning experience  to see so many original prints at one time. Printmaking has a very rich vocabulary of techniques and ways for the artist to express themselves. The entire scope of the techniques was covered with some artists taking these processes to limits rarely seen. I subscribe to the less is more philosophy, especially when it comes to small scale pieces such as this. Some artists went beyond the unlimited combination of paper and ink which I found unnecessary and distracting and I couldn’t help but notice a few trends in this area. The pieces that stand out above the rest made the best use of their respective media in combination with stimulating content. The pieces that struck me the most have a way of taking me some place that I have been longing for and fulfill the needs of my subconscious.

I would like to thank New Leaf again for inviting me to jury this show. I would also like to thank all the artists who submitted work.”

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Anna-Karolina Szul. The executive director of the Society of Northern Alberta Print-Artists Gallery, Anna graduated from the University of Alberta with a BFA in 2005 and was an artist in residence at Malaspina Printmakers in 2009.

“Jurying an exhibition is always a great honour and joy particularly one with a vast international reach as is the case with BIMPE. The pleasure comes from the unique opportunity to view contemporary print based artwork by an impressive number of artists from all around the world. Through this snapshot into the pulse of what is taking place in printmaking we see common themes and practices that are not related through a direct connection between individuals but suggest a greater connected unconscious that we often take for granted.

The challenge in such a task occurs when we realize that the merit of each individual work cannot be highlighted and the works must be compared and assessed by some standard rubric in order for a handful of prize winners to emerge. Although the process of looking at close to 1000 prints seemed daunting at first it was actually quite simple and pleasant. Sam, Jennifer, and I each looked at all the prints individually, created our own short lists and then hung the 75 prints that scored the highest on the wall. At that point we were down to 7.5% of the original works and only 1.4% to be recognized.

The process of assessing any artwork for me is the same:

1. Does the work move me? This is a vital characteristic because it is what stops you in your tracks, makes you wonder or feel a desire to know more.

2. Does the work stand on its own technically? For many people this is not an important factor, however, in an artform as process based as printmaking is, technique matters. If I start to wonder whether a mark is intentional, if a fingerprint was placed there or omitted purposefully the the work is missing something.

3. The third criteria is a little hard to explain, it is like the fairy dust in Peter Pan that allows everyone to fly. It is that perfect marriage between concept and execution. If you look at a work of at and not only have no desire or idea how to improve it but are lost in the experience then it is complete. This element is difficult to judge by a rubric, it is instinctual and probably biased but thankfully art is not a science. In essence, it is acceptance without analysis.

Thank you Peter, Lesley, Sam and Jennifer for including me in such a rare and wonderful experience.”

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Sam Davidson checks out one of the binders of miniature prints.

 

 

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Sam and Jennifer deliberating over the prints.

 

 

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Sam and Anna deep in contemplation.

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Binders and binders of beautiful small prints at New Leaf.

 

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Pinning some of the potential prize-winning prints to the wall at New Leaf.

 

 

 

 

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