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Kalamazoo College
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Alumni

Some of Our Alumni

Leah Busch

painting

 

Katie Brown

painting, photography

 

Will Walkington

illustration, design, painting

 

Bethany Johnson

drawing

 

Katina Bitsicas

digital storytelling

 

Julia Gartrell

sculpture, installation

 

Kristian Bjornard

design

 

Samantha Kearney

design, urban planning

 

Zachary Norman

photography

 

Matthew Rossana

design

 

Heidi Fahrenbacher

ceramics

 

Erin Milbeck Wilcox

museum programming

 

Applying for Exhibitions

Types of exhibitions

Juried usually thematic, media and/or geographically based

Group designed by curators or proposed by participants

Solo usually one body of work or an installation by a single artist, invited or proposed

  • Look for calls for submissions in art magazines, online art opportunity websites and through reputable nonprofit art galleries/centers.
  • Read resumes of artists in your peer group that you admire for ideas about places to apply.

Art fair Two main types outdoor shows and fine art fairs

  • Outdoor and craft fairs are geared towards artists making commercial or craft based artworks, requires a high participation fee and the expectation for high volume of sales, functional art and work that is decorative prevails; shop like presentation.
  • Fine Arts fairs such as Basel Miami, Art Expo, Armory Show, SOFA etc., are geared towards fine arts collectors; galleries typically rent booths to exhibit “their” artists, museum style presentation.

 

What is the difference between an exhibition and gallery representation?

  • Nonprofit galleries and museums will show work based on the promise, seriousness and/or reputation of the artist with little emphasis on sales.  They will sell work if someone is interested and take approximately 30-50% of the sale price, but their priority is showing work that fits their mission.
  • Private galleries are owned by individuals who may want a commitment from their artists to show and sell only with them or with their permission.  Gallerists may function as the artists’ agents or representatives.  They expect artists to respect their investment in the artists’ work and career.  Private galleries typically take 50% of the sale price. 

 

How do artists get shows?

Calls for submissions can be the best place for emerging artists to start

  • Juried shows are a great place to start, since prior experience does not factor into your acceptance.  Be careful of high application fees and bad venues.  If you have to pay to apply, make sure the venue is worth the cost and the risk.  Pick and choose your “best bets” for quality shows that seem to fit your work.
  • Many non-profits also award solo and group shows based on calls for proposals and/or submissions. Those applications should not have a fee. Info can be found on art gallery/center websites and in general “art opportunities” lists.

Introductions mean a lot in the art world

  • Ask other artists/mentors for ideas about who to share your work with.  They might introduce you or you can introduce yourself, based on their recommendation (mention names).
  • Once you have a show, invite artists/mentors and their suggested contacts to see work that is already on display without asking for anything from them.

Unsolicited submissions are the least likely to yield results

  • Look at the work already being shown in the venue.  Do they show artists in your peer group in terms of experience, media and approach?  Do you like the work that is being shown?  Is it too similar to yours or a strong complement?

Invitations do not come to those who wait, but to those whose work is out there

  • In order to succeed you have to take some risks.  Set attainable goals with frequent and stepped deadlines.  For example, “by the end of the summer I hope to have applied for three exhibitions; by December I hope to have applied for an additional three exhibitions; by next June, I hope to have been in at least two exhibitions; in three years, I hope to have exhibited in at least three national shows.”
  • Once you have some experience, you may be invited for an exhibition based on a curator’s interest and/or familiarity with your work.  Publications help get your work out there, so consider applying for shows that have catalogs and/or apply for competitions and exhibitions in print.

 

How much will it cost? 

Materials to create the work

Application fees $20-50 for juried shows that might accept one piece, at best

Travel/packing/shipping most galleries pay for return shipping (even juried shows)

Installation costs tools, pedestals, hanging hardware should be provided by the venue, but framing is the responsibility of the artist… always check on what they will provide

Publicity postcard printing and mailing might be provided by the venue

Exhibition Receptions in a nonprofit gallery might be the responsibility of the artist

  • Assistance with expenses ranges from the artist pays for everything to the artist pays for nothing.  The latter comes with experience, but it is still rare in all but large museum exhibitions. 
  • Invest wisely.  Can you afford what it will cost to do the show?  What are the benefits– opportunity to complete a body or work, increased exposure, sales, introduce your work to a new audience, etc.
  • Direct your resources towards the most likely and most beneficial opportunities.  

 

What type of venue is it?

Private gallery, non-profit gallery, university gallery, art center, museum, coffee shop and interesting other sites are all possible exhibition spaces.  Each has a specific context and will offer different benefits.  For example, coffee shop exhibitions are reasonably easy to line up, a great way to share your work with others and possibly sell some work, but they don’t typically lead to other shows and/or publications of your work.  Museums are difficult to access early in your career, unless you are entering a regional juried exhibition, but they are usually “valued” by the art community more.  They are considered peer-reviewed opportunities, meaning that people who are trained in art or art history have selected the work.  

  • Does the venue show your peers and/or the group you want to be your peers?  If the answer is yes, determine the best approach to showing there, paying attention to calls for submissions and timing for your career. 

 

Who will review your application materials? 

Curators, gallery directors, and other artists are all potential reviewers for exhibition materials.  When applying for juried shows, look at the background of the juror relative to the type of show it is.  Evaluate whether it is a good fit for your work before spending money on fees.  Nonprofit gallery directors usually adhere to the mission of their space, while private gallery directors rely more on their tastes.  Curators typically have an educational and/or contextual goal.  If you do get a show, curators and gallery directors can be great resources for critical feedback on your work and career.  Network as much as possible.

 

What is the geographical location of the show?

Most artists start with local exhibitions, because they are easier to obtain and install.  Regional shows have the same benefits, but reach a wider audience.  National and international exhibitions in reputable galleries and museums reach the broadest audience and are desirable for artists in academic or high profile art careers.  Start local, expand to regional, go national and hope for international.  A realistic goal for recent alums would be to have a solo show in a local gallery and one piece in a juried show in a national venue (plus others in regional galleries) within 18 months of graduation.

 

Application materials

  • Should be extremely well organized with every part clearly and consistently labeled. 

Digital images should be high quality. Follow the venue’s submission guidelines for file size.  Many applications are online now, but if you need to mail a CD and no guidelines are indicated, include a set of high-res and a set of low-res images in two separate folders on the CD.  Name your images in the order you want them viewed, with your last name rather than the title AND make sure they are well organized on the CD itself. The CD should be easy to navigate.  Make a professional label for your CD.  Always include your contact info on the CD and every document you submit.

Image identification should include your name, address and contact info. 

The description for each image should include the title, date, media (sometimes the method of execution, for example “slab built” or “wheel thrown”), and the dimensions H” x W” x D”.  If it is relevant you may also include the installation location.  The document should match your resume, if you include one– use the same font and heading and maintain consistent alignment.

Resumes are not usually included for juried shows, but may be requested as part of other calls for submissions.  Your resume should be impeccably designed, organized and proofread.  It should include exhibitions and art related activities over extracurricular and volunteer activities.

Artist statements should be concise and appropriate to the type of show.

A good length is usually 150-250 words and NO MORE than one page.  If you are applying to a thematic show, it would be wise to write a statement that frames your work in relation to the theme.  Consider which pieces to discuss.  If you are submitting one piece, your statement can more directly address it, if you are submitting a body of work the statement should address that.  If you are submitting multiple bodies of work, your statement should speak more generally about your approach to content, process, materials and/or theory and the relevance of those choices to the work.

Project proposal should be one page or less and explain your idea for a show of work not yet created. Clearly describe the work you plan to create and how it relates to your previous work (examples of which you will include with your proposal).  Also indicate your plans for installation and anticipated budget for the project.

Fees are frequently charged for juried shows.  Galleries usually use them to cover the cost of the juror and exhibition installation.  Be careful of throwing money away on too many shows with fees.  Pick ones that have good jurors and a large audience.

 

Specific Suggestions

  • Arts Council of Kalamazoo
  • Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Center
  • ArtPrize in Grand Rapids
  • The art center in your hometown or nearest city
  • Saatchi gallery
  • Search for a thematic, media based or regional juried opportunity

 

Websites listing calls

College Art

Call for Entry

Arts Deadlines List

 

Apply for at least one show before the end of June and at least three before the end of August.