Gallery Submissions FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is our selection process?

Submissions to the Mary E. Black Gallery are assessed through a jury process. Craft Nova Scotia Staff work with the Exhibition Committee to select a panel of three jurors from the community.  

Jury:

  1. Craft Nova Scotia Member (professional craftsperson practicing in any medium)
  2. A professional craftsperson from the Nova Scotia community (may or may not be a Craft Nova Scotia Member, practices in a different medium than the first juror)
  3. A Wild Card, an individual from the arts community (e.g. arts educator, curator, writer, gallerist, academic, etc.).


We endeavour to have diverse juries that represent the diversity of the Nova Scotia craft community. You can sign up to put your name onto our jury roster by emailing hcraig@craftnovascotia.ca.

Craft Nova Scotia gallery administrators are present to help facilitate discussion and answer juror’s questions about the organization, our policies and procedures but do not participate in the decision-making process. The contents of your application and proceedings of the jury meetings are strictly confidential.

Conflict of Interest: If any juror has a conflict of interest (i.e. a personal or professional connection to an applicant) they are expected to recuse themselves from the discussion regarding the application in question.

What is a letter of intent?

A strong letter of intent should create a clear picture of your exhibition for the jury. The key aspects that should be included should be:

  • Working title of the exhibition
  • Explanation of the theme and/ or concept of your exhibition
  • What types of works will be included (medium, technique, size, etc.)
  • How they will be put together in the gallery space (e.g. plinths, wall, installation, performance, approx. number of pieces, etc.)

Keep in mind that jurors are reading 40-80 applications, so keep things clear and concise! Avoid spending too much time going into specific installation details, but make sure it’s clear that you have considered the space and have a plan in mind.

TIP: Have a friend read over your letter of intent. Ask them if they came away with a clear understanding of your theme AND a clear mental image of what the show might physically look like. Try asking them to identify the Why, What, and How of your proposal. 

What is an artist bio?

An artist bio is a short statement that provides background information on who you are as an artist. It usually includes some information about where you are from, where you are currently based, where/how you learned your skills, degrees/qualifications you hold, what medium(s) you work with, what kind of themes you work with, and highlights some of your achievements.

What is a CV?

A CV (curriculum vitae) is an artist’s résumé that lists prior exhibitions, education, and other related creative endeavours. This support document of your application helps the jury know what level you are at in your career and informs the feasibility of the proposal.

Prior exhibition experience is not a requirement to submit to the Mary E. Black Gallery. If you have not exhibited before, other categories such as volunteer work or
collaborative/community events may be a good way to highlight other relevant arts experience.

For more information on writing a CV, check out this how-to from the Canada Council for the Arts.

What support materials should I include?

Your support materials can include in any combination, up to 20 images of:

  • past work,
  • work that will be in the proposed exhibition and;
  • sketches of proposed work for the exhibition that is not yet completed

A strong application will consider how these three types of examples are used in combination. An application that relies too heavily on past work and proposed work may not give jurors a clear picture of what your exhibition will look like. All the work for the proposed project does not have to be completed, however, the images of finished works that will be included in the exhibition are most important. These images show the jury that you have a solid foundation for your proposed project and give them a clear picture of exactly what the work is!

Past works: show where your present work has evolved from conceptually or technically and/or illustrate your technical skills and ability to complete projects.
Sketches of proposed work: illustrate the future direction of your project and help the jurors to envision the pieces that are not yet completed.

How do I label my support material?

Please follow the given instructions for labelling your support images. The gallery can be working with 1000+ images in our system, and having everything labelled uniformly is hugely helpful for both jurors and gallery staff when reviewing applications.

Format image titles as follows:
01FirstInitial_LastName_Title.jpeg

e.g.
01E_Wareham_BlueVase.jpeg
02E_Wareham_YellowPlate.jpeg
03E_Wareham_PurpleMug.jpeg

What is an image list?

The image list is numbered and tells the jury exactly what all your images are, including full details about the pieces. Please include artist name, title, medium, dimensions in metric, and date of work. This list should correspond exactly to the numbering of your support materials. If the numbering between your support materials and the image list does not correspond, the jury cannot accurately understand your images and assess your application.

e.g.
01FirstInitial_LastName_Title.jpeg
01E_Wareham_BlueVase.jpeg
02E_Wareham_YellowPlate.jpeg
03E_Wareham_PurpleMug.jpeg

Becomes:
01 Artist name, title, medium, dimensions in metric, date of work
01 Emily Wareham, Blue Vase, porcelain, 10cm x 5cm x 7cm, 2022
02 Emily Wareham, Yellow Plate, stoneware, 20cm x 15cm x 3cm, 2023
03 Emily Wareham, Purple Mug, earthenware, 12cm x 7cm x 10cm, 2023

What are additional support materials?

This is a space where you can include other materials that may help support your application. This could include catalogues from previous exhibitions, published
reviews of your work, write-ups from awards you have won or been nominated for, etc.
As the jury has limited time to assess a large number of applications, please carefully consider the relevance of these materials and include only material that directly supports the jury’s understanding of your proposed project.

What is a side-by-side solo show?

In an effort to support the caliber of submissions we receive, the jury occasionally identifies the opportunity to pair two exhibitions together as side-by-side solos. (A side-by-side exhibition features two artists sharing the gallery space to present solo shows with their own individual titles.) This usually occurs when two artists with high-quality applications work with themes, materials, or techniques that could create interesting dialogues between the bodies of work. This creates an opportunity for us to fit more artists into our exhibition schedule, enrich the experience of viewers, and forge connections between artists.

A recent example of this was Carley Mullaly and Twyla Exner’s side-by-side exhibitions in 2023. Both artists use traditional textile techniques to repurpose plastic waste and presenting their work in conversation with one another enriched the concept of both exhibitions and made for excellent public engagement.

What is cultural context?

Cultural context helps mitigate cultural appropriation, informs jurors and gallerists of important information, and can also strengthen the conceptual underpinnings of your work. The purpose of considering cultural context is to make us all stop and think about how and why we are doing the work we are doing. Answering the following questions in the application helps situate your work in relation to its themes and/or cultural narratives. In other words, it addresses the question of who is telling whose story.

 

The questions you will be asked to answer about your work:

  • Does your work share cultural expressions or knowledge from marginalized communities?
  • If so, what is your relationship to these communities?
  • How might your work impact the communities reflected in the work?
  • How might your work impact communities in the place where the work is being exhibited?

What is cultural appropriation?

“Cultural appropriation is considered a continued act of colonization. Being conscious of cultural appropriation reestablishes the significant connection between cultural spirituality, symbolism, way of life, creativity, traditions, stories and much more to people and practices that were historically outlawed. It is essential to be aware of any privilege a maker may have within the craft community, including economics, education, and opportunities.

Simply stated, cultural appropriation occurs when cultural references are adapted without consent. Cultural appropriation often represents a power imbalance when a member of the dominant culture uses specific cultural references, including craft and self-representation, from a minority or colonized culture (including Indigenous, racialized and newcomer communities) without explicit permission or collaboration.”

Excerpt from Canadian Craft Federation- What is cultural appropriation? A Brief Introduction to Cultural Appropriation of Craft in Canada.

Questions to consider when developing your concept/ theme and writing your letter of intent:

  • Have you addressed your personal connection to the culture/community?
  • Have you received consent/support from the community and shown proof of this?
  • Is your project furthering contemporary artistic discourses regarding this community in an appropriate manner?

More information on Indigenous Arts Protocols is available from CARFAC.

What if I need assistance with my application?

Our aim is for everyone to have a barrier-free experience submitting to the gallery. Towards that end, we are here to assist and accommodate in any way we can. Gallery staff is committed to assisting applicants who face barriers to applying or have any difficulty with the process. If you require assistance or have any remaining questions after reviewing this FAQ, please contact the Gallery Coordinator at hcraig@craftnovascotia.ca. We are also happy to discuss accommodations should you need to submit materials in an alternative format for accessibility reasons.

Please note that we are a small team and there is a limit to our capacity—the earlier you can reach out, the more support we can provide. General feedback and guidance can be given on proposal drafts, but we are not able to provide detailed editing services. Peer editing can be one of the most accessible and effective ways to get more intensive support.