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Art is subjective, so should it be judged? May 9, 2013  |  By Jane Lavino

Our Museum recently announced the results of three different art contests: The prestigious Bull-Bransom Award for book illustration, the Betty Nelson Artistic Promise Award for kids, and the Traveling Trout Contest for teens. After 29 years in art education I’ve seen the gamut of approaches and opinions regarding the judging of art.  Here’s what I’ve learned.

1) Art contests, when done well; give honor and recognition to well deserving artists. 2) Thoughtful selection of judges is the most important task. 3) Score sheets with clearly defined judging criteria can help. 4) Never let your judges discuss their preferences or try to influence each other.

If you are rigorous about each step, the best work will rise to the top, and the winners will be respected if not loved. Of course, on a different day, with different judges, other artists might win. -But it would be for other fabulous work!

Jane Lavino, Sugden Family Curator of Education

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