This week I helped judge an area ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) art competition. Every year, all over the country, there are art competitions with ACSI to celebrate the talented grade school, middle school, and high school students. We judged in groups of three judges made up of art teachers and artists. We had to judge each art piece in our designated grade together as a group and I was a part of the group that judged ninth grade.
Judging art was so challenging in so many ways. There may be a piece that isn't very good, but the child may have tried their absolute best and it was the best art project they had ever done. On the other hand, there may be a stunning piece done by a child showing a lot of artistic ability, but the child may not have put much effort into creating it. It is hard to know the amount of effort that was put into a piece, and what the student's natural ability is.
Within our group we had to come within 5 points of each other on the judging scale, and I found that sometimes we were in very different ball parks from one another. Art is also a very personal thing, so when one judges art it is hard to put aside one's personal taste. Some of us differed in the fact that someone else seemed to really like the compositions that were very symmetrical, while my preference is more asymmetrical compositions. I told the others in my group that when I hang a piece of art over a piece of furniture, it always make sense in my mind to hang it off to the side instead of directly above the middle of it. Things like this are just the way our brains are wired and that is what makes certain pieces of art make more sense to us than others. There is realistic versus surrealistic, loose versus sketchy, colorful versus muted, and the list goes on when it comes to personal taste.
There were a lot of really beautiful pieces in there and I really enjoyed using a critical eye to judge and think about all of the aspects that goes into a piece of art... composition, presentation, originality, etc. Also, through our group discussion, while judging, I enjoyed being challenged in my thinking about what I think makes a piece of art "good" and if those reasons are based on personal taste or not. I loved seeing the creativity from these young people and am truly inspired by it!