Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil – Lessons For Judging

By Connie Lynn Borserine
This article first appeared in NANthology, the NAN newsletter, in summer 2002.

Ladies and Gentlemen, you are all aware of the three little monkeys wherein one covers his ears, one covers his eyes and one covers his mouth in order to prevent all sorts of mischief from taking place. I would like to suggest that we needlework judges pay close attention to and be ever mindful of their silent yet ever so eloquent lessons.

Number one little monkey, Mr. Hear No Evil, reminds us to be wary of gossip that may lead us to “prejudge” an exhibit, an exhibitor, a particular style or piece of embroidery, or even another judge. We must be on guard to help prevent the destructive pathway of hearsay and rumors.

Number two little monkey, Mr. See No Evil, is an important little guy indeed. As certified judges, we are charged with an awesome (and I use this word in its fullest sense) responsibility to look upon a fellow stitcher’s work with a careful, and yet of more consequence, a caring eye. Our first duty is not to find fault but instead, to look for the good, for the areas that evidence a job well done. It is more important to critique with a caring eye than to merely look with a “critical” one.

With a well-trained eye, we can easily point out how a different color value here, an increase or decrease in thread ply there or perhaps another choice of fiber would correct a problem or enhance the overall work. But remember always, first and foremost, to “See with the Heart.” Embrace the secret of the fox that’s imparted to Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s Little Prince as he learns that “One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2000, p. 63.)

The artist has not only submitted and shared their needlework but also a little piece of her heart. And, it is the judge’s duty to discover and validate the “heart” of this work even as we seek to instruct and guide.

Which brings us to Mr. Speak No Evil, monkey number three, who often works hand in hand, so to “speak,” with Mr. See No Evil.

Our role as needlework judge confers on us the mantle of counselor and advisor thus requiring us to be especially considerate of words, both written and spoken. In a professional setting, we are called upon to act and speak professionally. Speaking “out of school,” “out of line” or more or less in an irresponsible manner denigrates ourselves, our position and most importantly, our work. Think carefully before speaking, your words have incredible power, both positive and negative.

One of the chief goals of the needlework judge is to effect advances in the world of needlework and to further its acceptance as a universally recognized art form of its own. This goal, as well as all the professional goals of a certified needlework judge, will be well-served if we continue to keep in mind the lessons of our three simian friends: Hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.