Why Judge?

By Patricia Tector, NAN-certified Master Judge

This article first appeared in NANthology, the NAN newsletter, in fall 2007.

This is a question that can be taken in many ways.

Why judge a needlework exhibit? Why judge entries for a juried show? Why submit a piece to be judged? Why decide to go through judges’ certification and become a judge? Why, why, why.

Just as a teacher imparts her knowledge, experience, and specific projects to her students, so does a judge impart knowledge, experience, and specific critiques (when requested). A judge has the opportunity to educate stitchers and the general public about the tangibles in needlework, e.g. correct technique and proper finishing, and the intangibles, e.g. good design and effective use of color. This “educational” opportunity happens when pieces are selected for an exhibit when it is a juried exhibition; when pieces in an open (all entries accepted) exhibit are given ribbons or placement; and, when a stitcher requests a critique of his/her piece.

Why judge a needlework exhibit? As visitors go through an exhibit, they are enjoying what they are seeing but are not quite sure about the quality. Ribbons or placement designations help them to recognize that these are pieces that are well executed and, in the case of original entries, are pieces that show good design.

In addition to the work that judges do in evaluating each piece, they may also be called upon to do critiques. These are usually requested by the entrant and the pieces are analyzed in-depth with favorable comments about what they accomplished and helpful hints about what they might consider doing with future stitching. And, always the most important comment: thank you for sharing your work.

Why judge entries for a juried show? A judge has the opportunity to be the catalyst for raising the “bar” of viewing needlework as a true form of art. An artist makes a statement with their piece of work. A judge makes a statement with the quality of pieces selected and thereby is able to present and educate the general public with works that represent true art that happens to use needlework as the medium.

Why decide to go through judges’ certification and become a judge? Going through the Judges’ Certification Program prepares one to be a knowledgeable, competent and ethical judge who, by selecting quality pieces at each venue, can be a catalyst for stitchers and non-stitchers to appreciate a well-designed piece, whether created by the stitcher his/herself or another designer, utilizing excellent techniques to execute and present this work of needleart .

If you have entertained these questions and find some of the reasons listed above interesting, please contact the National Academy of Needlearts Director of Judges’ Certification at judges@needleart.org. You may have more questions in general or may find that going through Judges’ Certification is just the thing you have been considering and want to find out more about the program. The prime requirement is a deep and true love of needleart and the desire to share this with the world by encouraging others to appreciate this art form.