I want to thank Sarah Merideth, Framations and all of the great photographers who submitted work to this show. It was an honor to be able to witness the high quality of work that was arrayed for me to judge. It is obvious that Framations was able to tap into a very rich vein of photography for this competition. As a photographer and a photo teacher, it is always encouraging to witness the amount of talent in this region. It is obvious that photography is alive and well here.
Of the many times I’ve been asked to judge a show, I am always impressed at how hard it is to decide which images stay in the show and which don’t. So to those whose photographs ended up on the walls of this exhibit, congratulations! But, to those whose images did not, let me speak to you first.
As you well know, any decision about a piece of art is a subjective, a very subjective opinion. The fact that your photograph did not make into this show does not mean anything about the universal value of your piece of art. What it means is this: given the competition of the other works around it, and given the subjective decision of a judge on that moment and on that day, it was less competitive than other images around it. The fact that your image did not survive the cut does not mean that it wouldn’t be included in another show with a different mixture of competitors and a different judge.
There is no universal value to a piece of art. Its value is determined by the viewer. I am convinced that if two viewers are contemplating a work of art, and one viewer likes it and one viewer doesn’t, that indicates that the piece viewed is both good and bad, simultaneously. I understand this concept is a difficult one for “civilians” (non artists) to perceive, but it is not hard for you to understand, as you now swim in that sea. It is not an easy task to work in a world where the value of your efforts is variable, but it is truly the world of artists, musicians and creative writers. I celebrate your courage to work within that world and I encourage your persistence.
Now to those who’s work made it in the show. Take a lesson from what I just said to those who didn’t. Your work is in the show for the same reason that others are not: given the competition of the other works around it, and given the subjective decision of a judge on that moment and on that day, it was more competitive than other images around it. This doesn’t mean that in other competitions and with another judge, it will make the cut. As I said, living the life of an artist means you live in highly competitive and very subjective world. However, congratulations on being a part of this show. (Just don’t get a big head….)
To all of you: The works in this show have something to recommend to the viewer. Perhaps it’s their compositional excellence, or color relationships, or perhaps the interesting way something that was once in front of the camera is now presented to the viewer. All of the work here on the walls is worth viewing.
My picks for honorable mention and for first, second and third prize exhibit the wonderful variations that photography can take – whether it be color or black and white, digital or analog, landscapes or portraits. All of the top nine images in this show have something to say to the viewer as to the power and scope of photography in the 21st century. They each communicated to me the excitement of a moment captured, and the beauty of a satisfying composition. In each of these images I think you can witness the mind of a creative artist at work.
Again to all of you and to the good people at Framations, I want to thank you for allowing me to view all these photographs. Congratulations on a good show!
~Dan Younger, Professor of Art, Studio Art Coordinator, UMSL