These strong reactions made me realize how, well, jaded I have become to being rejected to art shows. As part of my graduate school we are required to submit to at least one art show a semester, and, up until this semester, I have received nothing but rejection emails from these shows. I joke that I am at the point that I feel like I could write the rejection email my self, and I did, in fact, do this for a juried show that I was involved with several years ago. I am now to the point that I view applying to a show more as a donation to said gallery than as a potential opportunity to show work. Perhaps this isn't the best attitude to have when applying to a show, but it is certainly a good defense mechanism, because rejection certainly does hurt, even when you understand that not everyone can get into such and such a show and you are competing with artists who, honestly, are just plain better than you are.
At the same time, it really is an honor having your work accepted into a show. When I received an acceptance email from the Mountain Standard Clay show at the end of February and the America's Clayfest show in March I realized that it had been two years since I had been accepted into a juried show. I also remember crying when I'd found out two years ago that a piece of mine had made it into the Colorado Clay show (now Mountain Standard Clay). There's a certain validation that comes from being accepted into a show, like the juror is telling you that your work has value and is appreciated, but being rejected certainly doesn't mean that your work doesn't have value and, perhaps, that's what the novice doesn't understand. Of course, in the end, most artists would make work even if they didn't get positive feedback from the outside world simply because they need that creative outlet as a way of expressing themselves.
Another thing that the upset student has made me think of is the choreographer Liz Lerman, author of Critical Response Process and keynote speaker at the NCECA conference this year. Lerman's talk at the conference was a brief discussion of her critique process, the key element of which was establishing a rapport between the critic and the criticized (or teacher and student) that is essential both for the critic to truly discover the meaning of the work being examined and for the student to be able to accept the constructive criticism being offered. Perhaps yesterday's student simply didn't feel like she was being respected by the juror of the show. Rejection certainly does hurt, even when you've experienced it a fair bit as an artist, and it was difficult to see someone experiencing it for the first time. I do hope that she continues on in art and continues to submit her work to shows, knowing that someday she's bound to get in. Once she does, that success is bound to be that much sweeter because she has experienced being rejected.