Just within the past week, I all of the sudden found myself in the middle of a heated situation. There's a bit of an uproar from SNAG members over the lack of insurance for my necklace exhibition and another show that's taking place in the same space. The most vocal outcry has come from Harriete Estel Berman both on her blog, and the SNAG Facebook page. There is much discussion, and everyone seems to have an opinion. Myself, I'm not sure what to think.
I feel like a lot of assumptions are being made, so I'd like to clarify a few things, mainly about the process of how this show came about.
SNAG put out a call for exhibition proposals for the 2012 conference in Phoenix. I pitched an idea to SNAG that I was both invested in and thought might actually have a shot at being selected. I thought about what type of exhibition I would want to see my own work in. I approached jurors that I have utmost respect and admiration for, and who are well versed in the format of neckpieces. In fact, a piece of Amy Tavern's immediately came to mind when I thought about the type of work I wanted to see in the exhibition. I was thrilled when both Bob and Amy agreed to be on board. I was even MORE thrilled when I was told that my proposal had been selected, and later that it would be held at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
Then, about 6-8 weeks later, I was told that they would be putting my show, along with a second SANG exhibition in the gift shop at the SMoCA. A couple weeks after that, I was told that both exhibitions would be sharing at large atrium at the museum. It was at this time I found out that the show would not be insured. I was a bit concerned, but figured that as long as it was crystal clear to applicants that insurance would not be provided, and all shipping costs must be covered by the artist, that people would be able to make the choice for themselves whether or not to apply.
At this point I was just glad that the show was still happening at all, because for a hot minute, I didn't think it was. I was dissappointed that the show wouldn't be held in a gallery, and only partially because "large atrium" won't look nearly as good on my resume as "gallery". SMoCA's unwillingness to give a gallery to a show devoted to contemporary jewelry tells us that we are still marginallized as a field, even within the arts. I often wonder if anyone outside the metals community pays any attention to us at all. Now, I view the show not only as an opportunity to educate the public about contemporary jewelry, but also to show SMoCA why we deserved a gallery space in the first place.
People are also upset about the additional cost to the participating artists. One person even went to far as to suggest a reduction in the entry fee. This doesn't make sense at all, since that money goes toward paying my jurors and print materials for promoting the show. SNAG doesn't see any of that money. I don't see any of that money, despite the amount of work I'm putting in to see my idea come to fruition. In fact, as a recent graduate and still unemployed, I'm becoming increasingly nervous about how I'm going to cover the cost of my trip to the conference.
I understand why people are upset, and I'm trying really hard not to take anything personally. People are saying that the show should never even had been posted if there was no insurance, but I wonder if they would say the same thing if they were in my position of trying to launch a career. I feel like I have to take advantage of any opportunity that comes my way, and from where I stand any show is better than no show at all.
Currently the Exhibitions Committee (whom, I've found to be nothing but helpful and supportive), are working with the Scottsdale Arts Council to provide some sort of insurance for the space. I sincerely hope they resolve the issue. Even if the show proceeds with out insurance, I hope that enough people will still be willing to take the risk that we can still put on a spectacular show.