Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rejection Abounds

Rejection Abounds
Sometimes, in my exuberance over my successes that I share with you, it may appear that it is ALL success.  I can assure you that is not the case. So today, I share my latest rejection.  But first, a metaphor.
My favorite motto in rockclimbing....if you're not falling, then you aren't pushing yourself hard enough.  Of course we had ropes to catch us when we fell, so it was safe.  But falling is such a deep psychological fear, that even on a rope, you really don't want to fall and it's scary, illogically scary.  And if you never try anything harder, never take the risk, you really don't get any stronger or better as a climber.  And that's okay too. But for me, I had goals, I always strive to push myself, that's just how I am.  To overcome the fear, I would routinely get on climbs that I knew I couldn't do.  I would fall a LOT.  It helped me learn on a physical level to trust my climbing partner.  It helped me learn to push myself. And I got better, good balance, strong body, smart choices.
Planned Obsolescence - 2009

 This has paid off well as it translates to my new art quilt world.  I take a lot of risks.  I know I can't draw, but I push myself to draw and I learn. I have pictures in my head that need expressing.  I enter lots and lots of venues.  I risk rejection from the juries who decide which pieces will get in and which ones won't.  I risk rejection from the judges who pick winners.  I risk rejection from my audience who may not like what I have to say, or the way that I say it in my work.  Why??  Because if you don't ask, the answer is already no.  Asking, or entering, gets an opportunity for yes.
It would appear that my audience simply does not want to see a piece about a brand new bright and pretty neighborhood built on a trash heap of obsolescent appliances.  REALLY?  Who would of thought??  :)  It is either the theme or the execution of my techniques.  And it was my first attempt at a large batik etching, so possibly (no, definitely), I need more experience with the technique!  The piece is intentionally uncomfortable for the viewer.  I think some art is just like that.  Maybe I could have chosen different colors?  Maybe not.  I thought it would be perfect for the Beyond Comfort exhibit by SAQA, but they didn't think so.  I got the rejection yesterday.  It was the 5th rejection for this art quilt! 

And the theme of overconsumption is not one that most people really want to look at.  Or what happens to all the junk we buy and then get rid of because it is built so poorly that it breaks quickly....all to drive the economy, make a fast buck.  And, I have no problem with stimulating the economy, but I think we need to do it smarter, and look at the long range consequences of our actions.  I am not sure if all that came through in this little piece.  A big message for such a little piece.  All I know is that I had to make it.  In this I experienced a huge amount of success, regardless of it's failures with a larger audience.  I can't even call the most recent rejection a setback, because I plod onwards for the next piece that needs to be made.

Do I like rejection?  No.  Does it hurt my feelings?  Yes.  What to do?  Feel my feelings, then get over it, and "Climb on"!


Unknown said...

Great post, Kathy! You know, I like the piece, but I'd like to see more color in the "below" parts. It intrigues me, but the balance bothers me. I know that's what you want, but I want to look so much more! I think it's cool, certainly something to explore.

I often do things which are painful to look at and every once in a while I exhibit them, but I am well aware that some people will react badly, not because of any design element, or based on my workmanship, but just because it is hard to look at. I haven't done too many quilts like this (just one as a matter of fact) but one mixed media and one oil painting both on breast cancer.

Thank you for sharing your rejection, and we all know that sometimes what the curators/jurors are looking for is just not what we thought it was all about.

Gerrie said...

I got rejected, too! Boo hoo - but you words of wisdom have been nice to hear this morning.

I agree about the bottom portion of that quilt. It seems too sterile to evoke the point you are trying to make. Does that make sense?

Kate said...

Oh Kathy - yes!! So well put. I am experiencing this in other areas of my life and it isn't nice, it isn't pretty, but it has to be done. One must do the Hard Things in order to grow - most of us shy away (of course!!) but if we do, I think we live a diminished life.

Jackie said...

thank you so much for posting that. I feel this year has been my 'year of rejection'... it seemed like everything I entered, was rejected. And then I began wondering, all those famous quilters blogs I follow, do they ever get rejected?
It is nice to know that sometimes you guys do to.

Sue Dennis said...

I got the 'rejection' e-mail too, but have already reassesed & moved on- I have too many things I want to try, design & make.

Vivien Zepf said...

I got the nice rejection letter from Eileen, too. Your post did help me feel better, though.... small consolation, I'm sure, but true.

I love the idea of your piece, but the clear white in the background of the bottom doesn't seem in line with the concept. I also agree that something darker and moodier would have balanced the piece more and made it easier for me to see all the fabulous details. Also might have made it seem "dirtier", if that makes sense. I hope you continue to explore this.

skye said...

I agree with Vivien, in that a darker, rustier, more degenerate feel would have been nice.
I'm glad to read your post just because it is, like you, so real. Rejection is a stimulus to growth, & a call to further inquiry.
I love this piece & its message. Keep submitting it! :-)

Kathy York said...

Thank you guys for you wonderful comments. I love to hear your ideas about this piece and your experiences with rejection too. It is unlikely that I will rework this one, but I might try another one along the same line. For me, white represents death. That's why I choose white for the bottom. However, if I have to explain it, then it has missed it's point. Along the same lines as the post, you can't miss your mark if you don't take aim. lol! And for those of you with the skinny envelopes from Beyond Comfort, it looks like I am in good company! Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

Kathy, it might be primarily a cultural thing. In Japanese culture, I know that white means death...and white kimonos are one of the wedding kimonos as the bride's previous family is being erased by the one she is marrying into....there's more to it than that, but there you have it.

Of course, in most western cultures, it doesn't mean death..but purity. Your concept of showing sterility and death is a good one...Try another or just photoshop and paint in the lower section with rusty and black and see what you think....

From what I've been reading, I wonder who got in! So many very talented people were not accepted, so you're in very good company indeed.

Leslie Tucker Jenison said...

I love this post, Kathy. We have had numerous discussions about this piece. I understand the comments people are making about the "lack of balance" or the top-heavy quality of the piece, which is precisely what you were shooting for. That is what I LOVE about this piece: it seems top-heavy and off-kilter. That, to me, is why it works, given the subject matter. The white, stark underbelly of the bright happy neighborhood. You have a way of making your statement that is very thought-provoking. Don't change a thing.
There will be other pieces.
To quote one of my art-school grad daughters:
"If you can't wallpaper at least one small room with your rejection letters you simply aren't trying hard enough!"

Sharon Rotz said...

Of course, everyone sees artwork differently. I like the fact that you kept with the intense color and didn't muddy out or go dark. I find the large amount of light on the bottom balances the top and gives "ghostlike" images to the buried parts.

I too have my rejections but we continue to stretch ourselves out because we need to for us and not for the approval of others.