My portfolio review. Photograph by Hannah Frieser.
A little over a month ago I had a portfolio review with the new Executive Director of the Center for Photography at Woodstock. It went well. I had brought one of my hand bound booklets to share if the moment seemed opportune. It was looked at and I was offered a spot in an upcoming book art show.
I was pleased. The year was off to a good start. I was told that I would be contacted the following week to hammer out details.
The following week came and went.
The week following the following week came and went.
I began to wonder if I had imagined or misunderstood her words.
Another week passed and I wondered if the show was further into the future and I had been forgotten because of more pressing matters. Or had the offer been rescinded?
The idea that I might have been bumped from this opportunity did not bother me nearly as much as the idea that I had been bumped and nobody was telling me.
We had Salon this past Tuesday. I attended hoping I might see the ED and find out what was going on. I saw her a couple of times, but only from the other side of the room as she was passing through. There was no chance to talk or even give her a questioning look that would remind her of her offer to me and elicit some sort of explanation.
Salon began with an excited announcement of the upcoming shows set to open on the 20th, less than two weeks away. One of them was the Book Arts Show. My heart sank. Surely I would have been contacted by now if I were going to be in it. I became upset and melted to the periphery of the group to lick my wounds.
Gradually I pulled myself together to participate and offer comment. When my turn came to share work, I laid down the set of ten images I used for all but one of the submissions I had made in the last few weeks. I was conflicted about doing this. I wasn't sure I wanted to hear that my submission set was flawed in any way. On the other hand, there are more submissions coming up and I figured I might as well know if there were any flaws and adjust.
And yes, there was a flaw. I had made the classic mistake of falling in love with one of my images to the point that I was blind to the fact that it didn't really have a place in the set I presented. On some level I knew this. It was the one image that pushed up a question mark in my mind every time my eyes landed on it. I took some comfort in that.
Artists are frequently told to be prepared to kill their babies when assembling a portfolio of their work. It's not that the babies aren't wonderful and worthy of love. It's that our love for them blinds us to the bigger picture.
Overall, my set of images was felt to be really strong and the one photograph that didn't fit was also felt to be really strong. It's possible I may still be successful with one or more of my submissions. We'll see.
When my time was up I gathered my photographs and put them away. I took out my phone, which had been vibrating in my pocket during my presentation, to check on the activity. An email from the ED. I opened it and it was a picture of me during my portfolio review. No message. Just the picture. I was confused. It made no sense.
I backed out of the email to my inbox and saw the other email from the ED. She was confirming that she wanted me in the show and was anxious to get the book from me. Damn, woman, you couldn't let me know before the Salon so I could have brought it with me? Of course, she had no reason to know I would be at Salon. In fact, it seems highly probable that seeing me there reminded her of something she needed to do.
When Salon was over Richard, the salon leader who has been most supportive of my work, came over and reiterated how good it was. His sentiment was backed up by the other leader in a roundabout way. He told me he was being tougher on me because I had moved into a higher tier, or something to that effect.
Alright then, I guess I am moving higher up the side of the mountain.