Help: Rejection, what’s love got to do with it? Success

Given those acceptance percentages just for OVAC’s programs, why keep trying?

“You just have to keep working on your art,” Kate Rivers, 2009 Fellowship recipient. Rivers received a $5,000 award this year, judged by an outside curator.

She had submitted six times before being a winner this year!

In fact, her seventh submission (the winner) ties the highest number of submissions by an artist to OVAC’s Fellowship program. In this case, her diligence paid off.

When I asked Kate why she kept submitting, she pointed out that the guest curator changes each year, plus she feels compelled to keep evolving her artwork. Also, the submission pool varies greatly. This year 52 submitted, last year 85 and in 2007, 85. You never know who else is applying, so can’t guess what the curator will see.

Kate said the Fellowship was just a part of a string of successes with galleries she’s had this year. I think all Kate’s opportunities have come from a combination of her hard work in the studio art and her willingness to risk rejection when submitting her artwork.

Help: Rejection, what’s love got to do with it? Statistics

Ironically, I am working on this series of blog posts about artistic rejection and… I received a rejection letter today from the Dallas Contemporary. It hurt my feelings. Funny thing is I don’t even make art. They must have received OVAC’s most recent exhibition catalogs that we mail nationwide and mistook me for an exhibition seeker for their gallery. I think this confirms, yet again, that rejection is a very common part of the art world. What perspectives are useful for artists? We know you have to take a risk to submit a proposal, apply for that grant, or send art to that show. For many artists it is an occasional risk, while others enter things constantly.

First a few numbers from OVAC’s recent submission history for the statistics fans out there:

Momentum Tulsa Spotlight:
9 proposals for 3 honoraria 30%

Oklahoma Visual Arts Fellowships:
52 entries for 2 fellowships 2%

Oklahoma Student Awards of Excellence:
17 entries for 2 awards 12%

Momentum OKC exhibition:
199 artists submitting over 400 pieces, 136 artists with 260 pieces accepted 65%

VisionMakers exhibition:
201 pieces by 76 artists submitted, 38 pieces by 38 artists accepted 19%

Art 365 exhibition:
134 proposals, 6 accepted 4%

You can see that the acceptance rate is widely varying depending on the type of opportunity and eligibility. Next up, what might these numbers tell us?

Artist Interview: Aaron Hauck

OVAC Intern Kelly Lunsford is interviewing Oklahoma artists about their careers for the OVAC blog. The first of her interviews is with Aaron Hauck, sculptor, mixed media artist and professor at East Central University in Ada.

KL: When did you decide you wanted to be an artist?
AH: I don’t think I ever decided that I wanted to be an artist. As a child, I wanted to be a major league baseball player. Art was just something that I was always involved with.

KL: What is your educational background?
AH: I have a bachelors in Art Education from Missouri Southern and a Masters of Fine Art in sculpture from Montana State University in Bozeman.

KL: Much of your work deals with products of consumer waste. What was your inspiration to start turning trash into art?
AH: I am inspired by things I find and see on a regular basis. I spent a lot of time in grad school digging through dumpsters. I found a lot of really cool things that usually inspired a piece. The same can be said now; I try to let the material speak. Found materials have a visual context and a historical context that influence the form, process, and content of a piece.

KL: Coming off of your Honorable Mention at Momentum, tell us about your Polar Bear Sculpture, “Save Money, Live Better”
AH: The polar bear rug was something that I had been thinking about for a long time. It comments on the environment and how corporations effect the environment. A look out of any window in Oklahoma may reveal a landscape littered with white plastic bags. They get stuck in trees and fences and in a sense become part of the landscape. I wanted a way to use them to show this trend without being too literal. I looked at them and tried to make connections to the environment. They are white so that made me start thinking about things in nature that are white and are possibly being negatively affected in some way by man. The polar bear seemed like a good subject because it is a threatened species. Its habitat is disappearing due to the effects of global warming. If you believe in global warming you know that pollution is a major cause of it and these white sacks are a pervasive form of litter and also represent our dependence on major corporations that may be contributing to the decline of the natural environment.

KL: Why do you think it’s important to have art exhibited in shows like Rethink:Recycle:Redesign?
AH: I think it’s always important to show your work and participate in shows that raise awareness.

KL: Tell us about your collage piece titled, Grass Roots?
AH: Grass Roots was made from consumer packaging remnants that I collected over a period of about six months. Like the white plastic sacks, one can find old pizza boxes or frozen dinner boxes blowing all over the place.

KL: What is the most interesting thing about the way you work?
AH: One thing that I find interesting is that as I have gotten older my impetus for making art has changed. I used to make only sculpture. Since grad school I have began making work in almost all mediums. I now start with an idea and then decide what medium is most suited for that idea.

KL: You teach sculpture at East Central University. What is the best thing about working with art students?
AH: Art students are usually fun to be around.

KL: What were some of the highlights working on The Horse Project sculpture with the students?
AH: The highlight was seeing a major undertaking be completed on time and under budget. It was very challenging! It was the largest project I had ever worked on let alone the students. So seeing it hoisted up and into place was something that I will never forget! We worked very hard on it, sacrificing countless weekends, so it was good to see it finished.

KL: Who inspires you artistically?
AH: Many artists inspire my work. I look at art magazines and try to see as much art in person as I can. Tom Friedman, Vim Delvoye, Tim Hawkinson, Tara Donovan, etc.

KL: What is your Ah-Ha moment?
AH: completing my first sculpture and realizing that I enjoyed the process.

KL: What is your proudest moment artistically?
AH: Being accepted into grad school

KL: What music do you listen to when you are working?
AH: I actually don’t listen to music when I work. I used to, but not anymore. Sometimes I like to listen to NPR.

KL: What are you reading right now?
AH: A Sand County Almanac

KL: When you’re not working, what do you like to do?
AH: relax

KL: What is the funniest thing you’ve ever heard?
AH: that an art degree is easy to earn

KL: What are you working on next? What is your next big challenge?
AH: My next big challenge is learning Abobe Flash and Dreamweaver so that I can teach Web Design in the fall.

Help: Rejection, what’s love got to do with it?

As a part of Julia’s series of blog posts about rejection, you might want to check out an article that was published in the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Art Focus Oklahoma titled “Rejected? Don’t feel dejected!” (page 18) Three writers shared their experience and advice for dealing with rejection.

Help: Rejection, what’s love got to do with it?

Again and again I see that resilience by artists in the face of rejection is a key factor of success, not to mention satisfaction. I am starting a series of blog posts about rejection for artists.

In that light, if you have a specific way you deal with rejection of your artwork, save all your rejection letters, have a purification ritual after a major disappointment, etc, I’d like to hear from you! Please email Julia and I will try to work you into my series.

I am plotting posts about 1. The Facts (#s from OVAC about different submissions vs. winners and years of submitting vs winning) 2. perspectives from artists 3. perspectives from the “selectors,” be they curators, jurors, committees or others. Please give me your feedback! Ciao- Julia

Tip: Trademark on Social Media Websites

Ever wonder what happens if someone makes their Facebook profile with your name as an artist? Curious about Twitter’s rules for reclaiming a name that should be your own?

This article by McAfeee Taft law firm gives an outline of the issues surrounding social media and user names. Consider also the issues of trademark.

New Public Art: Stan Carroll

Rounding the corner to Stan Carroll’s new sculpture outside the Downtown OKC Underground is delightfully disconcerting. Tucked under a parking garage overhang, the creature encourages you to explore the creative space below the business district. Stan’s fun shapes and tantalizing character are a great addition to the neighborhood.

The piece is at Robert S Kerr (NW 2nd) and Broadway in OKC. See more of Stan’s work at

Resources: OVAC’s programs

Sarah Atlee warmed OVAC’s collective artist-loving hearts with this testimonial about our services. Besides summarizing the resources well, Sarah’s post shows the benefits of taking advantage of all of OVAC’s programs. She has received more than $10,000 in awards/honoraria from OVAC, connected with galleries, and increased her business skills & professional networks. Sarah’s taken advantage of the services, we hope you will too.