Being a “Juried Artist Member”

It’s taken almost a year but I am finally ready to submit a portfolio for consideration as a juried artist member of  SAQA. 

 Last year when I returned from the SAQA‘s conference in Portland I was inspired. I wanted to be a real artist like the speakers I had heard or the amazing people I had met. I wanted to be a bigger part of the art quilt world.

During the conference I met with a SAQA mentor for 20 minutes to discuss the process of becoming a juried artist member or JAM.  That short conversation changed my life as an artist over the past year.  I committed myself to taking my work as an art quilter to the next level.

conference 2015

The first thing my mentor said to me was ” it’s all about the work!” The required resume and artist statements are the last consideration.  To submit a  JAM portfolio, an artist needs to present a body of work with a singular point of view in a distinct visual voice.  After returning to Mesquite I wrote several big ideas I wanted to work on which I call  my visual problems. 

Creating visual problems was a starting point for me when I was an art teacher working on curriculum.  A good visual problem must be interesting, complex and challenging enough to sustain investigation overtime. It’s a problem that has many solutions. In the end I decided my problem would be how to make a portrait of an inner life.


After working for a couple of months I believed I was creating two distinct series. One centered on meditation. These would be portraits which would speak to my own practice of quieting my mind and addressing stress. The other series was old photographs of deceased family members. In these portraits I was working to express an emotional subtext that is shared in families.


 Over the last year, I have sent my mentor photographs of my work in progress. This process has helped me immensely. There has been nothing more important to my artistic growth as having critical feedback. I credit these conversations not only to helping put together a cohesive body of work, but also for helping me successfully submit work to national  and regional shows.

Now I am putting the last touches on my submission. I am formatting my digital images to the specifications outlined by the committee. This is a skill every artist who submits online needs to master. You need the highest quality images, in focus, neutral backgrounds, show the edges of your work, and eliminate distortion.  I put some real effort into reaching out to a professional photographer to learn some of the skills I needed. This paid off big time!

Next I wrote my artist’s statement. This another area where my mentor helped me. She provided a tip sheet:

First of all remember this is one way you can tell your audience what you create,why you create it  and a few words of how you make your work (technique and process) .

Focus on the art, the work. Also, keep in mind that you are not writing something for all time. Relax. Introduce your work to other people, people you like and respect.

  • Write in the first person, not in the third person.
    The artist’s statement should be no longer than one-half page.
    Don’t mix a bio with your artist statement.
Hint: In general, write for an audience who has not seen your work. Be careful of using “art speak” language. It can be helpful to ask two people to read your statement and tell you what it means to them. Better yet, ask one person who is familiar with your work and another who is not.

I had to provide a resume. Like everything else in a formal submission, pay close attention to the directions. This is something that I think creative people sometimes struggle to understand why a strict format makes a big difference in the decision making process, but it does. My resume was fairly easy to put together since I had been keeping a spreadsheet which provided a list of exhibits.

There are couple things I will do to the future. Keep an updated spreadsheet with the exhibit name, year, juror(s) , title of entry, the exhibit/venue link . When I put my resume together I did not have a juror’s name and had to search the web to find information about the show. When I update my spreadsheet I will also update my resume on my website and in a word document. It’s a must for a serious artist.

Until next time……..