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From Insult to Injury: Shawnee Barton on Artist Rejection

I like Shawnee Barton a lot; she’s a former Chicago artist, and we’ve stayed in touch. She told me this story and it was so — not just tragically sad — but so typical in illustrating how really bad things can be for artists. Not only is there rejection, there is rejection by extremely incompetent people. So this post is dedicated by Shawnee Barton to every artist who has their own tale to tell of “going from insult to injury.” –Kathryn Born


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  1. This is insult/injury/laugh lest we cry material.
    Thanks…. I will share, post, tweet.

    We must keep making in spite of all odds.
    Cathi

  2. Paul says:

    Years ago when I was still working as a studio potter I juried for a fairly prestigious gallery for my state. I boxed up a sampling of my work and sent it in. I was rejected by mail… and told I had to come get the work because they wouldn’t repack it to send it back. They had thrown away the boxes. I arrived, two hours away, just in time to meet the gallery director who recognized me by my work and chastised me for daring to enter my “production” pottery to the gallery because it wasn’t art and wouldn’t sell. I was slinking out and thinking about becoming ANYTHING else… when the girls at the desk and all the secretaries came out from the office and bought everything I had. They loved it. I wanted to shove it down his throat… but I went home and paid my rent. That is the final revenge.

  3. One point you may be failing to take away… their rejection obviously means nothing.

    Back when film festivals still insisted on VHS or Beta tapes (strangely until only a few years ago) a fellow filmmaker clues me into a trick to discover if the festival had actually reviewed the film, or simply dismissed it out of turn: cue your tape ten or twelve seconds in. If they watch it, it will either be at the end of your short or, more likely, rewound all the way.

    About a quarter of my submissions came back unwatched and rejected with festival merrily taking my $30-50 entry fee. If they had moved to DVD sooner they could have better perpetrated this fraud, so I’m not really sure why they clung to the old format — perhaps for the extra power of rejecting work out of turn and leaving a clue behind, like a little turd.

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