Juror’s statement - 2005 Wisconsin Artists Biennial

by Lynne Warren

Juror Lynne Warren behind the bound books of Edwin Jager, which received the James Auer Prize.
  It is always a temptation to enter into the task of jurying an art exhibition too lightly:  after all, it is usually done in a “blind process” where one is viewing slides with almost no other information on the artist except his or her name. If one doesn’t recognize the name, the artist is for all purposes anonymous. It is tempting, as with any ‘stranger,’ to distance oneself as if there is no relationship, really, and thus no implications to one’s actions. 
But for the juror and the artists there are many implications: the juror must select quality art, which then makes some artists feel good and some feel bad based on whether they were selected or not; the juror must select a limited number of works, which often necessitates excluding many fine examples of work; the juror must put together an exhibition that makes some sort of sense, which looks beyond individual artist’s achievements to a larger responsibility to the public who will be viewing the show (which of course includes artists!).
So I have learned to be thoughtful and deliberate. These are not ‘anonymous artists,’ but people who care deeply about their work. In the Wisconsin Artists Biennial, this was very much on display. I was very pleased with the level of professionalism and high quality of many works submitted, which made my task more difficult in that few were easily dismissed as unsuitable. So I must thank all the artists who entered the Biennial and encourage those who were not selected to keep to their visions. Of the artists who were selected, I congratulate them for allowing me to put together what I think is a wide-ranging, but cohesive presentation. It was a particular pleasure to be able to select fine examples of media that I normally might overlook, especially textiles and other materials often associated with crafts, such as papier mache, and ceramics. 
I must also congratulate those involved in Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors for providing this opportunity to the state’s artists. The number of awards assembled alone shows the commitment of this organization, and it was gratifying to be able to recognize so many artists with various awards and prizes, especially the unusual award of a two person show. Some of the highlights for me were Peter Mak’s ‘tourist bag,’ clever and sobering all at the same time; Monte Wilson’s doll quilt which in slide form held secret its vinyl reality; and the ‘bound’ books of Edwin Jager, to whom I gave the James Auer Prize. I knew Mr. Auer, and knew his love of contemporary art and writing, and although this was not my reason for selecting Mr. Jager’s work for the prize, it seemed uncannily fitting to me.