ANST - A&S Experience - was "Newbie"

dennis grace amazing at
Mon Aug 4 22:17:53 PDT 1997

Hi there. Aquilanne here.

Siobhan wrote:
>> Just as a matter of interest, what are your collective feelings about the
>> idea of having entrants in an arts & sciences competition state their length
>> of time in the organization and length of time in the relevant field with
>> their entries?
>> Any other information that is not generally solicited that you think might be
>> relevant to judges? 

Eowyn wrote:
>I believe that this is good information for the judges.  However,  I 
>would still hold them to the same standards as others who may have 
>been participating for a longer length of time.  Perhaps, recognition 
>for novices would be a good thing for each category.  But what 
>exactly is a novice?  Less than a year?

Cool. People talking A&S stuff. Ha HA! Here in this element, I am
theoretically qualified to give an opinion!

Let me preface the sharing of these opinions with the open acknowlegement
that I'm still not sure how Ansteorran A&S competitions are structured; I
have only my experience from elsewhere to draw from here. If anything here
doesn't make enough sense in context, feel free to ask, "what the h*ll are
you talking about?" at any time. ;->

So, for my 11 cents worth (sorry, inflation), I'd have to say that I don't
really see adding information about A&S entrants as a helpful practice.
*Point one: an individual's length of time in the SCA is not necessarily the
same length of time that individual has practiced a particular art.  *Point
two: the length of time an individual has practiced a particular art will
not necessarily be reflected in the quality of his/her work. One person may
spend four years perfecting the art of raised gilding while a virtual
neophyte may pick it up and gild rings around everyone else in a matter of
months. I've seen both varieties of progress.  *Point three:  if an attempt
is being made to judge entries on their individual virtues and level of
virtuosity, then it would seem that a level of anonymity of the entrants
helps a judge maintain a higher level of objectivity.

I then submit that recognition for a neophyte in an A&S category come from
productive comments and critique, and not getting slapped down with an
unnecessary or unsupportable toxic score.

Here I want to wander a bit into a couple philosophies I hold regarding A&S
competitions and judging.  *First, I've rarely seen reason to give an entry
extremely low points, barring the absence of some element crucial to an
entry--say, documentation, totally unfinished seams in sections on a piece
of garb, inaudibility of a bardic presentation, etc. For the most part, if
you're using, say, a point system of 0 (low or no score) to 10 (highest
score) for entries, or for separate aspects of an entry, I have rarely seen
an excuse to give a score lower than, say, maybe a 5. My reasoning here is
that if an entry has been presented, and a reasonable effort has been made,
then there's no reason to blast someone with a toxic score. It's just not
nice. An A&S entry is the result of hours, days, weeks, months--sometimes
even years--of someone's artistic efforts. It's just not noble to dismiss an
individual's earnest efforts with a slap in the face (you artists out there
know exactly what I'm talking about--it's very easy to take judgement of our
work to reflect judgement on ourselves).  *Second--comments, comments,
comments. I very strongly believe that if someone is going to accept the
privilege (that's right, *privilege*) and responsibility of judging other
peoples' hours, days, weeks, or months worth of work, then they better be
ready to explain why they scored the entry as they did. The comments are
often the only or best feedback an entrant may get on their work. Judging is
best done with an attitude of not only scoring entries or saying "I really
like this" but a willingness to critique and instruct and offer resource info. 

I remember my first directed attempts at doing scrolls. I had spent a couple
years as a fine arts student and expected and welcomed constructive
criticism. As wonderful as ego strokes are, I began to feel a bit adrift
after a steady diet of oohs and ahhhs; what I really wanted, and needed, was
constructive criticism. I always gathered up my judging slips from A&S
competitions with great anticipation as to what I might garner from the
comments--comments on spacing, comments on composition, comments on material
choice--not just the happy faces and the "I really like this" but real stuff
I could get my teeth into and apply to my next project or use as impetus to
research further in order to justify whatever technique had been questioned.
Comments, comments, comments. Offer as much as you possibly can to those
whose work you judge; don't judge if you don't have anything to offer. 

That's probably enough for now; comments?



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