Meet The Juror
Beyond, Behind, Beneath
Juror Alan Larkin of South Bend, IN, taught printmaking and drawing at Indiana University South Bend for nearly forty years. An artist himself, Larkin works in drawing, painting and printmaking, incorporating a taste for realism that guides his narrative work.
The Flower Arrangement, Alan Larkin
A Marionette, Alan Larkin
"To help artists understand the results of a jurying process it is helpful for the judge to share information about personal values. As far as competition results go, a simple yes or no can be somewhat oblique and less than helpful since works that are eliminated from one show can often win prizes in another. Here are a few things about my views that shaped my reaction to this year’s show.
Technical mastery of any stripe always goes a long way with me. If you are a drawer, painter or printmaker then the level of virtuosity or perfectionism carries great weight, and strong design will always be strong design.
I find that naïve or anti-skill art can often be compelling but is hard to quantify. The “je ne sais quoi” had better be there although what that “quoi” might turn out to be is really in the eye of the beholder. As an equal opportunity beholder, I try to open myself up to feel the underlying intent. Evaluating art like this is the least objective part of judging, though it is also unavoidable.
Artists whose primary intent is to deliver a message have a special burden that they must carry. The message needs to be worth saying. At minimum it should be something which is more than obvious like “War is bad” or “Life is hard.” Artists might search for more insightful metaphors or should dig a bit deeper and give us something that is both more specific and more personal.
Digital tools are no longer new. I use them in my own work frequently and often look at digitally created work. There is a kind of finish that is automatically imparted that can mask the underlying coherence of the piece.
At the end of the day, assessing a disparate group of works and assigning prizes is a two-part action. There is, on the one hand, the difficult comparison between the works themselves, and on the other hand an assessment of whether the work is an excellent example of work of its type.
This is clearly an inexact science. The show includes 47 works drawn from a field of 132. I have chosen two prize winners. There is a wide range of approaches among the selected artists, and the exhibition should be well worth perusing. There were many excellent works submitted."
The Carole Lombard Bridge- Fort Wayne, Alan Larkin