A Strange Love, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Biennial.

by Janet Roberts

Author Janet Roberts at the Memorial Union Gallery
While exchanging emails with a few WP&S members on the subject of the Biennial and volunteering, I wrote the following: “I truly got much more out of this experience than I put into it. I have learned a great deal, have more respect for WP&S than ever before, and have had the added benefit of expanding my circle of artists and art administrators. I just wish more members would take the leap and get involved. I do think many out there have no idea of what goes into producing a show such as the Biennial…..I personally will never take one for granted again.”

Easy for me to say! If I may backtrack a little, and be perfectly candid, I will confess that the thought of acting as co-chair of anything was enough to make me break out in hives. I have said that I am the perfect worker-bee…….I love to work behind the scenes and by myself, therefore never running the risk of making mistakes and--heaven forbid--letting someone down. But having come through this Biennial experience miraculously in one piece, and with only a few embarrassments to tuck away in the “don’t go there again” category, I feel a real sense of accomplishment and growth. It WAS fun to be involved in the process. It WAS enriching to see the slides of artwork pouring in from all over Wisconsin. It WAS thrilling to call the curator of the permanent collection at the Walker Art Museum to ask if she would be our juror, and have her say yes. And finally, it WAS gratifying to be at the opening and see the joy and pride on the faces of those artists receiving awards.

I did have moments of doubting my sanity, but here I am, with the Biennial past and starting work as the Chair of the Southeast Member’s Show. As I remarked in that email, “I suppose this indicates I am either a fool or I really DID enjoy the Biennial!” All you other worker bees out there--be a little daring--live on the edge--VOLUNTEER!

Author Janet Roberts at the Memorial Union Gallery The Memorial Union, Host to the 2003 Biennial Biennial 2003 Biennial 2003 Artist Babette Wainwright delivers her work to the Porter Butts Gallery
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