Wednesday, September 17, 2008

CPSA calls for entries for Explore This! 5

The Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA) has published the Call for Entries to Explore This! 5 on its website and there are some very major changes which will interest a wide variety of artists - not just those who usually work in coloured pencil. Some of the changes are also ones which other art societies would do well to take note of.

The Explore This! exhibitions allow other media to be incorporated. The surface can also be three-dimensional, collage, or relief artwork.

The major changes for the fifth exhibition to be held in 2009 are highlighted in Invitation for Explore This! 5 now available on the new CPSA blog. Plus I've given my take on them below.

CPSA thinking behind the changes is threefold - and I applaud and endorse all three motives
  1. to promote work using coloured pencil to a wider audience
  2. to encourage artists to explore the use of coloured pencils in combination with a wider range of materials
  3. to increase the participation of artists who are not primarily artists working in coloured pencils.
To this end there are some very significant changes to the arrangements for the exhibition, entries and artists. I'm sure these will encourage a big increase in the number of entries. It's all very exciting!

Here's my summary of the changes - however this is my understanding of the rules. If thinking of entering you really do need to download the prospectus (pdf file) and then read the sections relating to specification, permission and copyright very carefully. If you're puzzled about anything ask CPSA.

Explore This! Exhibition
From 2009 and in future the Explore This! exhibition will be:
  • a juried online exhibition
  • an annual exhibition (previously it's been held every other year).
Entries eligible for the Explore This! Exhibition
Up to two entries may be submitted but only one can be chosen for the exhibition. Artwork must not be more than 3 years old (ie executed after 15th November 2005), can be for sale (but does not have to be - all sales to be concluded between artist and purchaser) and can be work which is 100% colored pencil. However it now cannot be equivalent to work entered to the annual international CPSA exhibition.
  • where media is 100% coloured pencils, the support must not comply with the very strict rules of the CPSA International Exhibition. Examples could include using gesso or an abrasive mixture developed by the artist on whatever support you choose. Collage and 3 dimensional works involving any type of support are also allowed - although I don't think coloured pencils adheres to every type of support!
  • where the support complies with the rules of the International Exhibition (ie as prepared by a manufacturer or of a natural surface only) , then the media must now incorporate another medium although coloured pencil must still predominate. The 75% rule no longer applies. (I always thought that rule one was a bit silly - how on earth could you ever judge that it was more or less than precisely 75%!).
predominate verb, intrans 1 to be more numerous. 2 to be more noticeable or prominent. 3 to have more influence.
Chambers Online Dictionary
Artists whose work gets accepted into Explore This!
The show is open, as ever, to all artists, members and non-members alike, who are at least 18 years old. Similarly there is a $1,500 Best of Show award and XPPY Trophy along with other cash awards.

The significant changes for artists are as follows.
  • Artists can now earn a new signature designation, called CPX if they are accepted into three shows within a 10 year period
  • winners of the top three awards will have the opportunity to have their pieces displayed in the CPSA International Exhibition later that year.
  • all accepted entries of all artists will be exhibited online for the very first time (ie online images will no longer be restricted to just the award winners)
  • a full-color print issue of To The Point will showcase all accepted entries.
  • any lapse of membership subscription will lose any acceptances counting towards the CPX designation and/or forfeit of signature status
Given the recent controversy about work in another art society exhibition, it's worth noting what the prospectus says about copyright - as this relates to the images of others. It looks to me that this has come straight from a lawyer's office!

I applaud the rigour which CPSA is adopting in relation to this matter. The statement is a bit longer than a simple statement that the work needs to be original and eliminates the assumption that all artists understand what that means (they don't!).
The Artist hereby certifies that he or she holds the copyright for this material and the copyright remains with the said Artist. CPSA will display a notice that material must not be "downloaded" or copied, but will not be held responsible if artwork is copied. The artist also certifies that the work submitted is original and does not infringe on any existing copyright. If artwork includes an image of a person, the Artist certifies that a model release has been obtained.
CPSA Propsectus for Explore This! 5 (pdf)
The juror for the exhibition is Dr Gwen Chanzit, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Denver Art Museum. You can read about her work and artistic interests in the prospectus.

Key dates
These are the ones you want to make a note of - in calendar order:
  • Call for Entries will open September 16, 2008 at (listed as Colored Pencil Society of America: Explore This! 5)
  • Deadline for Entries: Nov 15, 2008
  • Entry Selection and Awards Selection: Jan 5-12, 2009
  • Acceptance list posted on the CPSA website: Jan 14, 2009
  • Exhibition Dates: Feb 1, 2009 to Jan 31, 2010 . The link to the online exhibition will be posted on the CPSA website.
It's worth noting that you have to register with in order to enter. However you can read about image preparation in order to submit a digital entry without registering. It also tells you about technical requirements for entry and provides a frequently asked questions page.

In my view, all the changes are an extremely intelligent and positive move on the part of the CPSA.

The current restrictions placed on how the medium can be used in the annual international exhibition are quite unlike any I've ever seen for any other non coloured pencil art society. When I visit the various exhibitions of other national art societies, I always see artists who are really stretching the boundaries of what it's possible to accomplish using a specific media. To my mind this is the way it should be - a media oriented art society should always be actively promoting and supporting the use of the media in a way which allows and encourages innovation. CPSA just chooses to have two exhibitions of a different nature - with the emphasis of the different specifications for media and support making one purist and the other innovative in nature.

I've always felt that artists who not used to working in coloured pencils would feel very inhibited by the restrictions placed on entries to the annual exhibition and unable to express their art in ways they would wish. I know this because that's what people tell me! My expectation is that the changes now being implemented for Explore This! in 2009 will mean that rather a lot of artists might now consider submitting work for this exhibition.

I think the move to take it online is also extremely positive. I always feel very sad for any member of any art society whose work gets into a national art society exhibition - but then they can't afford either the time or the cost of getting there themselves. Standard exhibition arrangements also mean that those viewing the exhibition in its entirety are always limited to those who can physically get to the show without spending a lot of money. I seem to ask the same question at most art society exhibitions - when are you going to have a virtual exhibition at the same time as a physical one...................

Maybe one good thing coming out of the current woes on the economic front is that more art socities will appreciate the good sense of taking exhibitions online?

One of the major disincentives to exhibiting with any art society is also the need to arrange, sometimes at great expense, to get artwork moved to a location at some distance. I know it's the main reason why despite being a member of CPSA I think long and hard every year about submitting an entry to the main exhibition - and then don't! Mind you I tend to very much be a hand delivery/collect person when it comes to my own artwork!

A couple of suggestions for CPSA of areas for improvement and development

Online exhibition: I think it would be helpful to artists who are nervous about their artwork appearing online to say something about what sort of dpi and pixel dimensions the artwork might be posted at. It's one thing to assume common sense - but I'd never advise anybody to enter work which will be shown online unless you had some sort of inkling as to how it might be shown. The problem this year is that there is no online exhibition of work to compare it with. Would it be possible for CPSA to provide an indication?

Online voting: If the exhibition is to be online then it's also possible to consider, as the Threadneedle Figurative Prize did, opening up one prize to a vote by an online audience. I understand the Threadneedle voting software worked well and eliminated the possibility of repeated votes from one IP.

Overall, well done to CPSA for making such a big change and embracing the virtual world of competitive exhibitions.


1 comment:

  1. Katherine, I haven't looked at any of your leads yet, but it all sounds very exciting. I"m sure it will do nothing but good to the CP world. I also endorse your proposition that all major exhibitions should publish their contents on line, for the reasons you give. I'm lucky enough to live in London, but wouldn't see much "in the flesh" if I lived elsewhere!



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