Gourd Art Enthusiasts

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About 6 months ago I wrote an article in The Gourd magazine that looked at the differences between the AGS Judge Training Program and several Garden Judge programs [The National Garden Club (NGC), the American Hemerocallis Society (AHS), the American Iris Society (AIS)]. The Garden Clubs are more rigorous in terms of the training course work; they include an apprentice status for a period of time before being a certified judge; and they include mandatory on-going education and a minimum amount of judge experience to retain their creditials.   

What are your thoughts regarding tightening the training coursework, adding an apprenticeship as part of the certification processes, and offering and requiring continuing education to maintain the Judge credential?

What other changes would help to strengthen the AGS Judging Program?

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and suggestions. Terry Noxel 

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Replies to This Discussion

Well, I've seen gourds so embellished that you can't see a bit of the gourd except maybe for the shape.  I think you should see more gourd than anything else.  IMHO.  Don't know what to say about "natural".  I always thought it referred to botanicals.

Here's my inflated 2 cents worth of thoughts....or a start of thoughts. I have helped with the competition in Texas for several years.....helping set the classes, divisions and categories....all of the table set up etc. and have been able to have the oportunity to clerk several times. I do believe the clerking is a real eye opener. Since gourd art judging is not like a timed event the personel taste of a judge will always be an issue. I took the AGS class from Judy and Bob Richie several years ago (have not ever judges)and feel it is a great start for helping set a standard for how the judges should judge a show...considering each piece....each class does have a guideline which should be read 1st to the jusges so that can be considered and then the standard of the AGS guidelines should be applied. I would not like to see a panel of judges from the reg. art world judge a state festival, I feel the judges should know something about gourd art and work before judging. During my AGS certification we had mock judging classes, the results from our different panels ended up with different winners or placements.

Every year new designs and trends enter the gourd world so each State Festival should be designed to their goals.

Yes, I always tell people never to get too excited or too upset about how they do at a competition, as it could be judged the same day by a different group and they'd get different results.  The people's choice award is often the most telling! 

Re: Personal taste.  Consider that judges who are artists themselves might have a different opinion than someone who knows nothing about how to do a gourd.  I'd value an award that had a group of talented artists as judges over people who have little artistic ability.  But you don't always have that luxury when selecting judges.

One aspect of the training that could be beefed-up (IMHO) is related to what to look for (what good looks like) for the skill/techniques. For example, woodburning lines w/o evidence of stops and starts; carving, painting, weaving, coiling, clay, etc -- all skill/techniques should be jugged on the application of the best exmples of skill (crafstmanship) as well as the factors of originality, appropriateness to category, creativity/artistry, color/finish/embellishment, and the quality of the gourd. The more thorough the training, the more objective the judging could be.

Alternatively, the judges could be assigned based on their areas of expertise...but I'll bet there aren't enough judges to do that at most shows.

 

(imo:-).......I can't say we hit each type of gourd skill there is in our training but those items where covered somewhat.... But then there is always the artist that will come along and part of their design and skill they add thoses starting and stopping lines...stitches missed to cause a design in their eye....the originality...etc. etc. I think that's where the judges should debate on judging the pieces. Needless to say some pieces will just stand out as winners....it's not easy to be a judge IMO. The debate issue can/could easliy become pushy or over powering....that's why judges really need to listen to each other and in some cases used those score cards......big classes could really be hard. I like that you have stirred the pot and maybe have gotten more folks thinking about competition either as a judge or entrant, they should ask questions if they want more answers.

Thanks for this input. Yup, I have "stirred the pot" to get different perspectives and raise awareness;-)

It sounds like your judge training class covered more than spelled out in the current course outline...and that's good! It also supports the proposed enhancement of the training.

I do see that pros and cons of being too rigid in defining what good looks like in a skill. A baseline should be helpful in determining a design versus a less skillful use of a technique in the discussion among the judges.

Another thing to consider in revamping the judges training may be to develop a judging option D that judges fairly but gets the job done quicker. Judging currently takes several hours to complete with 9-12 judges at a large show (around 200 entries). It's all well and good for judges to discuss and debate on which is the better piece in a category and why, but it takes a lot of time to do that. I don't have an answer for this issue but would sure like to see some discussion on this point too.

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