Art Journey – Exhibitions {Part 2}

Sorry for the delay in this post. The last quarter of 2022 was so busy as I was transitioning my out of my job and the company I worked for, for 24 years. Also, in December I got to go Morocco and came back from traveling with COVID. It was a very interesting year end.

Just a reminder, this is what I have found or done on my journey moving from being a quilter to a textile artist. This may or may not be the best path for you. Let’s talk about how to get into an exhibition and where to start.

Where do I start?

I have found most galleries will have a call to entry. This could be for a curated exhibition (themed or a group exhibition) with multiple people participating or it could be a call for a solo exhibition – all the pieces will come from one person.

I do multiple things to keep an eye out for the call for entries:

  1. Follow places I am interested in exhibiting at on social media and sign-up to their newsletters if they have one. I tend to do this with places that are local to me, for example: Artspace NC, Cam Raleigh, McColl Center, and 311 Gallery.
  2. Join groups that have exhibitions regularly and/or post other opportunities. Here are examples of some local places to me Durham Art Guild, Fine Arts League of Cary and some inter/national groups such as SAQA, Surface Design Associates, Fiber Art Now.
  3. Sign-up for sites that post Call of Entries for galleries, shows and other companies. The most common one I found was Cafè (note it is not specific to quilts but provide a lot of opportunities for art shows….after all Quilts = Art).

In Preparation for Submission

In preparation, for submitting your quilts to a call for entry, here are the things I have on hand just in case. These can be daunting at first but once you have them prepared it is much easier.

  1. Artist Bio (biography): This is a description, in the third person, about me. I keep bio to ~200 words and at times I will have to cut it down to 100 words. This should cover the artist career highlights, and a summary of their work to the present day. If you have been formally trained then also include education.
  2. Artist Statement: An artist statement is usually a statement that accompanies a selection of new art and explains the artist’s process and motivation as they created those artworks.This can be different depending on what you are applying for. If you are submitting a specific piece you would talk about that piece. If you are submitting for a solo exhibition it would be about the theme and goal of the your pieces that go into that exhibition.
  3. Resume: You may be asked to submit a resume which should include what you have done as an artist such as previous exhibitions/shows (include your quilt shows too), also include other things you have done as an artist. I include publications, teaching, and volunteer activities. It should not be longer than two pages. Depending on what I am applying for I change these categories around, since we are talking about exhibits here make sure that is at the top.
  4. Like other quilt shows, also have available, material used in quilt, date finished, name of art piece, dimensions, and amount you are willing to sell it for. You may want to have a list prepared and stored in a document so it is editable and easy to copy.
  5. Have you photo images ready. I have found that the images of your quilt must be flat and on a white background and usually a high quality image. If selected they may use this image for the exhibit marketing materials. You may need also a detail shot but this is less likely for an art exhibition.

You may never have written an artist statement before or created an artist statement, best advice I can give you is to take a look at other artists, ones that are similar to you and ones that are not. What did you like and not like and style yours based on that.

Applying for a Call For Entry

  1. It is important to read the instructions and any additional details they provide. These instructions will let you know:
    • if there are any restrictions (like size, or if they are looking for specific theme or a focus that excludes your medium) or
    • the selection process (judging and dates for announcements and delivery of your piece) or
    • the piece must be sellable and how much the gallery will keep vs. how much you will receive.
    • Hanging instructions, you may need it “ready to hang” includes wire etc.
  2. Most call for entries will have a fee.
  3. Exhibitions may have prize money.
  4. If you are applying for a solo show, make sure you read the fine print on the photos you submit. They will either ask for x number of photos of the art pieces (quilts) you will be showing (and you must show these quilts with substitutions if you have to but it is usually of a similar piece) or you will be asked to submit a “portfolio” of your work that matches the Artist Statement you submit. In this case, they don’t have to be the exact pieces for the final show.

Important, I save all images and documents for each call for entry in its own folder, even if that means I duplicate things. This way you have a record of what you submitted in case you need to validate down the line. I also keep a spread sheet with the following information: Name of quilt, date made, size, link to artist statement for the one piece, submission/call for entry, date of deadline, date of announcement, date to ship by, Accepted or not, shipped (Y/N), Date of shipped, expected date of return and other notes of importance.

Additional Information for Solo Exhibition

In my experience (accepted for my first solo exhibition), once selected for a solo exhibition the process differs slightly.

  1. You may have to sign a contract committing to dates and space, opening reception, hanging and takedown dates and times etc.
  2. You may or may not sell your work. If you sell your work again the gallery will take a commission so consider that in your prices. If you aren’t allowed to sell your work ask if you can provide a flyer or information at the door for with contact information (or even prices).
  3. Ask for the layout of the Gallery, wall and floor space. Get the dimensions of where you can hang work and what size you can use in each space. Consider windows, doors or other non-useable space.
  4. Ask about what will be available to hang with and what is allowed.
  5. Make sure you organize folks to help hang and take down the show if it is your responsibility.

Art Exhibition vs. Quilt Show

There are similarities and differences between the submission process for a quilt show vs. an exhibit. Here is a list to see some differences:

Exhibit ProcessQuilt Show Process
Eligibility Rules and guidelines
Instructions for Call for Entry Instructions for submission
Photo full view
(High quality, white background,
photo must meet size and naming requirements)
Photo full view
(High quality, white background,
photo must meet size and naming requirements)
N/A Photo detail view (High quality, white
background, meeting size and naming
requirements)
Artist Statement (description of solo show/
or single piece submission; possibly in a separate
document)
Description of Quilt (typically within
submission)
Year made Year made
Artist Biography (separate document) N/A
Artist Statement (description of solo show/
or multiple piece submission)
N/A
Sellable
(typical, and gallery will take commission 30 or higher is possible)
Choice between Sellable or not for sale
(NFS)
Curated
(usually the curator will be announced in the call for entry)
Juried into the show and then Judged.

Above is the most common processes and expectations I have seen but this may vary if it is an online show vs. in-person, or if the exhibit is an open call where everyone will have a piece accepted but typically there is another process where a curator will choose top pieces or a smaller exhibition that will follow-on.

I am happy to share any of the documents, I mention above, if you are interested. Let me know if you have any questions.

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