I’ve met art lovers who weren’t quite sure how an exhibition comes together. This list offers a few behind-the-scenes aspects that break down the differences between curated and juried exhibitions.
Curated exhibitions contain artwork selected by one person, a curator. The works center on a theme and, when shown together, inform viewers about the time, place, culture and other factors that went into its creation. I think of the work arranged in a curated space as sentences and paragraphs that say more than they would as single words.
Juried exhibitions contain art chosen from a larger pool of artwork by jurors. The juror(s) may be paid an honorarium to compensate time and expertise, while other jurors may volunteer. This process is relatively less involved and takes less time than curating.
Next time you’re at a juried show, look around. Each painting or sculpture may have only a few inches of wall space on either side of it. While the taste of the juror is a central factor in their decisions, jurors are professional and consider the skill, training, time and expressive effect of each work in addition to their personal preferences. They also consider how much space there is to show the work!
Curated exhibitions don’t necessarily allow more space for each work of art than juried exhibitions, but the shows I curate certainly do. I feel that when strong works of art are given space, they have more impact.
Curated exhibitions require more up-front capital to organize. Customarily, curators invite artists. Then the hosting institution usually pays for all or part of related shipping and travel expenses. If the artists give a talk or perform another related programming service while onsite, they may (should) receive a stipend. Meanwhile, juried exhibitions usually have a fee for artists to apply. In return, artists know it could lead to future opportunities, as jurors are often administrators at other art venues.
Juried group shows offer a great way for emerging artists to gain exposure, but established artists typically prefer to show their work in curated exhibitions, unless the juried show supports an institution they love. Juried exhibitions may be annual events to celebrate an arts center or raise money.
Curated exhibitions are usually planned far in advance of the opening. Ideally, artists receive invitations at least two years before art must be delivered. Meanwhile, juried exhibitions promote a deadline at least a few months in advance, and then within a month or so, participants know whether their work was included in the show.
Juried exhibitions offer snapshots of a particular time and place. They display work by artists who happened to enter and work that happens to be available at that given time. Most visual artists create work for a series, and juried shows nearly always show a maximum of two works by each artist.
Curated shows delve relatively further into ideas, and works are brought together less by chance and more proactively. Whether it is a solo show — delving into work by a single artist — or a group show, the works, when shown together, provide deeper views into the creative process, materials, cultural movements and the threads of curiosity that drive creation.
Shana Dumont Garr is the director of programs and exhibitions at Artspace in Raleigh