OVAC Annual Artist Survey – Report: Suggestions for OVAC Exhibitions

This post is the third in the series of posts (see the series here) examining the feedback and concerns expressed in the OVAC artist survey. We received over 250 responses from artists around the state.
This group of responses emphasizes OVAC’s exhibitions. OVAC offers the following exhibitions regularly: Art 365(triennially), Concept/OK: Art in Oklahoma (biennially), Momentum OKC & Tulsa (annually), and 24 Works on Paper(biennially with Individual Artists of Oklahoma).   
Many of the surveyed artists have hopes for our exhibitions that fall in several themes.  We welcome your additional comments and are glad to keep the conversation going.

The Concept/OK: Art in Oklahoma exhibition was on display December 16, 2012-February 16, 2013 at the Hardesty Arts Center in Tulsa.
 Suggestion #2: Create exhibitions that focus on a specific media or artistic style.
Oklahoma is rich in artistic talent, with artists working in every way imaginable. OVAC’s exhibitions highlight this diversity while creating opportunities for artists that did not exist before. As mentioned in earlier posts, we strive to present unduplicated programs, and our exhibitions are no different.
There are several media- or style-specific arts associations in the state that present exhibitions (such as Fiber Artists of Oklahoma or the Green Country Watercolor Society), along with other organizations that offer juried or invitational exhibitions. Click here for a list of some of the regularly occurring juried shows in Oklahoma. So, we would not want to offer exhibitions that overlap with their good work.
Over the past 20+ years of organizing various exhibitions, we’ve found that categorizing artwork according to its media or style isn’t always the most clear-cut, as more and more artists are creating work that defies categorization. Instead, our exhibitions seek to recognize artistic merit amongst all media and styles.
Also, OVAC does not have a gallery. We work with museums, galleries and art centers to feature our exhibitions.  Because of this structure, OVAC must be especially careful adding exhibition programs, knowing we will need a venue partner enthusiastic to host each exhibition.
Suggestion #3: Give feedback to artists who submitted but were not selected.
OVAC offers many open-call artist opportunities, meaning any artist meeting the eligibility requirements can apply or submit. Happily, this often means we are inundated with applications. While we understand how feedback on a particular application could be useful for an artist, it isn’t always practical or logistically possible for our staff or guest curators to provide feedback on each individual application due to the quantity or complexity of submissions.
Instead, we strive for a more proactive approach, offering guidance on how to make all of your applications and art submissions the best they can be. You can find resources for this information on our blog and in our workshop topics. Additionally, given adequate timing, our staff can also help provide guidance on how to make your submissions successful. We are always here to help and answer your questions, but we recommend you contact us with queries at least a couple of weeks in advance of a deadline to allow for thoughtful and thorough response.
If you are seeking direct feedback on your work, we suggest you seek out artist groups that hold critique sessions, invite a curator or other artist to do a one-on-one studio visit with you, or find other ways for feedback since this open call format doesn’t have room for that kind of interaction. 
Suggestion #4: Use a panel of judges rather than a single curator to avoid subjective opinions and make selections more fair.
For all OVAC’s programs that involve artist selections we recruit outside expertise to review the submissions. For things like exhibitions and Fellowship awards we ask a curator, usually from outside the state of Oklahoma. For our artist grants, we have a panel of local artists, curators, educators, and arts supporters.
The invited curators or selection panelists are chosen for their experience and expertise. While their opinions could be seen as subjective, they are also informed and knowledgeable in their fields. We hire them because of their opinions. The fact is that art is a subjective field and artwork that resonates strongly with one person may not have the same effect on the next. This is part of the reason we ask a different curator every time to bring a different perspective to each exhibition, rather than having an ongoing curator on staff. Particularly with exhibitions, we think that a single curator can create cohesiveness and focused vision for the show, while a panel of judges could potentially dilute that vision.

One Response to OVAC Annual Artist Survey – Report: Suggestions for OVAC Exhibitions

  1. romy owens says:

    this is fascinating. i love the responses as much as i love the suggestions. thank you for demystifying the process.

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