I spent way too much time worrying last week about an art show. Spending time making sure the pictures of our work look as good as possible, chasing down kids and parents for signatures, even bringing my sick daughter up to school so we can get the entries postmarked on time (to be fair, she wasn’t THAT sick). But why do I work so hard at this? Why do I spend so much time? I’ve been thinking about that this last week since the deadline has passed, and to be fair, I really don’t have an answer.
I love a lot about the Scholastic Art Awards, but there’s also a lot that makes my life difficult.
First of all, it’s an incredible amount of time spent–selecting work, photographing work, editing photos, having kids enter information, collecting signatures, matting work–it’s a lot to do. On top of that, my kids aren’t terribly invested in this show. They love our shows at the end of the year that are huge spectacles within their own school, and they love any show that awards money for the winners, but our Scholastic show offers none of these things. They appreciate the awards that may come their way, for sure, but the connection and anticipation and excitement just aren’t there. It’s a show that’s difficult to navigate, takes you through a lot of different hallways in which it is hard to find your work. The presentation is long, it’s awkward when you’re on stage, and you walk out with a certificate and maybe a pin. Meh.
The competitive side of me, however, relishes in this show. I love going against the entire state of Nebraska and seeing how our work stacks up. I love representing our two-person art department and holding our own against the five and six-person departments in a lot of the schools. I love the anticipation of the notification e-mail. I love seeing my kids’ faces when they see that they’ve won something. We don’t do work in order to be recognized, but it doesn’t hurt to have your effort validated.
And to be perfectly honest: winning is a fantastic feeling. I remember the rush of finding out about our first National Gold Key, and our first American Visions Award, and I think I’m still chasing that. The thing is, we’ve won more of those, and it doesn’t get any less exciting. I love that feeling, and that feeling never gets old. Even local honorable mentions are great to see, especially for kids who have worked hard for it.
Maybe that’s my answer as to why I work so hard: I love seeing my kids recognized, and I appreciate that it reflects well on me; I am also on the chase for the joy and excitement that comes with that recognition.
Not sure about what will be coming this year–I have my doubts about how successful we’ll be. Nothing stands out to me as a show-stopper, but we have a few things that I like a lot. We have a few that I think are pretty good, and pretty original. My usual strategy is to have a few works that I think are a little out of the ordinary–something the judges don’t see that often–and then send a few that are really strong technically. I would say teaching drawing is one of my strengths, so we usually have at least a couple that fit this category. My student teacher also taught a number of lessons this year that produced some great work, so a few entries technically belong to her. Hopefully a couple of her works can get recognized, so she can see what it’s all about.
February 4th, we will see our results, and hopefully we’ll move on and be looking for National results thereafter. Fingers crossed. Waiting. Chasing.