I want to clarify that I love quilts to be exhibited, the more, the more often, the better. I believe that showing the general public and other quilters what we do, what we make, why we make our work and who we are can only support the growth and reputation of the art of quilting. I also don't have any problem with juried exhibits. Folks are welcome to look at work and choose what they want to show based on their venue, their clientele and their taste.
It's the judging and prize awarding that I'm not into. For me it's a little bit like sending a set of judges into the Museum of Modern Art and placing ribbons on the art with little feedback statements, such as, Mr. Monet, your brushstrokes are uneven, or what lovely colors you've chosen.
While I appreciate feedback on my craftsmanship, I'm not sure anyone would be any better pointing out the flaws in my work than I am. I know the mistakes I've made in a quilt intimately...the ones that show and the ones that are hidden. I seek out people I respect for feedback on my work. While praise feels good, it's not how I'll get better.
Competition and judging is a part of traditional quilting culture. It's something I'd like to see change. It's more interesting to me to hear from the quilter about the inspiration behind the quilt, the quilter's struggles and triumphs and what she/he might do differently if they could make the quilt again.
So why is it important to have prizes and determine winners of quilt shows? Is it what draws the public? Do quilters want and need recognition? Does it challenge and motivate non winners to do better work? Questions to ponder, I suppose.
What do you think?