There are many steps to the process before a Canadian Quilters Association National Juried Show actually gets to the walls of the exhibition hall. The work of mounting a show from first deciding on the classes, to developing the entry form, receiving the entries, jurying, receiving the quilts, moving them to the judging floor, unpacking, organizing for judging, judging, sorting the quilts, hanging and finally the show opening and presentation of awards is a complex process. It demands abilities to organize, plan and execute, anticipate, implement and trouble shoot. It involves many people over many months using uncountable numbers of volunteer hours.
My story begins when CQA put out a call for judges and jurors a year ago for this 2016 show. As an apprentice judge I wanted as much experience as possible and so applied. In due time I was invited to be a Juror. Information began to be received about the on-line process. Familiarity with CQA standards is needed as well as all the same knowledge about colour and design that a judge would bring. The jury coordinator provided insight into the process; the jurors met via Skype and discussed the process and expectations. At last the day arrived. Photographs of the quilts had arrived with the entry forms. They were organized into the categories, the coordinator worked with entrants to ensure that submissions were in the correct category and the jurors were given passwords.
The first quilt appeared on the screen. I will never forget it. It is etched on my brain. Each of the three jurors worked independently viewing each quilt, applying the elements and principles of design to each quilt, making a brief comment and rating the individual submission.
Why do this? NJS has a reputation of presenting the best of the best that are being created across Canada. This represents a range of quilters, some quite experienced and some quite new although the jurors do not know this.
Once each individual juror has reviewed each quilt the second step begins. Where there is unanimous agreement about some quilts meeting or not meeting the design standards they are removed from the screen. Then the collaborative phase begins. The jurors can now see each other’s scores and comments. Still working on line the jurors reconsider their rating of a particular piece based on the comments of the other jurors. Consensus is arrived at for more quilts.
Finally we are down to the quilts where there is not complete agreement. The jurors confer to come to consensus on a particular piece. (This process is the same as the judges). All through out the process the objective criteria are applied.
The jury arrived at approximately 130 quilts to be included in the show. The individual jurors job is not complete, there is another step. Three constructive critiques are written for each of the quilts not accepted. These comments go back to each unsuccessful candidate so that they can have the same learning experience as those entrants who are successful.
As I wanted to learn as much as I could about the process I volunteered to come to Mississauga to be a part of the judging process. I thought that being a scribe would help to make me more familiar with the process and learn from more experienced judges. I carefully read the scribe job description and volunteered. My offer was accepted and I presented myself to the judging floor with computer in hand on the appointed day. I was given a stick with the spreadsheet identifying each category and each quilt by name and number. Now for the excitement! I would get to see in real life the quilts that I was very familiar by seeing them on my computer screen months ago. While I couldn’t see them as well as the judges I was able to get a sense of them when they were held up facing my station. I could see detail of construction and three- dimensionality that a computer screen doesn’t convey. The judges conferred. When an individual quilt had been considered the judge I was assigned would come to my station and dictate the constructive comments that she wanted recorded. I would enter the information, check for accuracy and get ready for the next comment.
As a scribe I had some opportunity to partially hear the judges discussion of an individual piece and get a sense of their assessment of a particular quilt. At the end of the process when all the comments had been entered and later reviewed by the individual judges the USB stick was returned to the Show Coordinator and my job was done.
This was a very enjoyable process for me to be part of the next step in moving the quilts to the show floor. I found that that this experience has deepened and broadened my understanding of the process and given me a chance to observe experiences certified judges in their process. While I am not yet sure how this will affect my own judging I firmly believe that more information and experience are enriching and that this experience will enrich and inform my own mental judging process.
Now for the most exciting step, to attend the opening of the NJS show tonight, see all the quilts at the final stage of their journey and learn which quilts receive ribbons and awards.
PS The photo is of poppies in my garden taken earlier today by my sister to show what is happening at home while I am at Quilt Canada.