Information for Entrants (as of August 2023)
For prospective entrants, it would be helpful to have a one-page document or oral explanation that answers the type of questions raised when considering criteria #1: What is the basis for this collection of items as a whole? For example, it might be that such items are commonly found in wills or probate inventories, or that similar items have been found in the graves of individuals of the same social status in the culture, or that such things have been found in excavations of settlements or workshops for a given craft, or that documentary or pictorial evidence suggests that these are typical objects that would have been in use by the persona.
A copy of your documentation must be submitted electronically no later than 1 week before the event (February 1, 2023). The advance documentation submitted does not need to be in it’s final form, as we are aware that last minute changes are often made. This will allow our judges to have the opportunity to review the documentation in advance so as to spend more time in discussion with the entrants in person on the day of the event.
Information for Judges (as of August 2022)
We designed Artifacts of a Life to be a different kind of A&S event, one where the whole is more than the sum of the parts, as the saying goes. We are asking judges to treat the exhibits as a whole, telling a story about somebody’s life in a particular time and place through their material culture. Most of you are probably well-informed museum goers, and the skills that you bring to appreciating an exhibit at a fine museum on a culture that you don’t know well are exactly what we are looking for.
• There will be a judges meeting before and after the judging to calibrate and review together.
• We ask that Judges interact with the entrants and talk to them about their work. Most people are entering this contest to receive feedback. Please make that feedback constructive and positive.
• Judges will be identified by a distinctive token. The goal is to enhance communication on all sides of the encounter to everyone’s benefit.
• Our goal is to have three judges for each entrant.
• Judges cannot enter the competition.
• Tabulation will be going on furiously throughout as judges turn in their judging forms.
Some exhibits may have a few spectacular items as well as modest ones — just like the things that people leave behind in real life. When you try to evaluate what you are seeing, take into consideration how it works together to inform you about a life that might have happened. We realize that this might be hard, but we reserved the bulk of the points in the judging form for “cohesiveness and appropriateness for persona.” You might choose to assign “points” to each item in the display in trying to come up with your total assessment, but please try to look at the resulting whole. Did it communicate to you? Did you learn something? Since we are treating this holistically, you will be judging items that might involve crafts with which you have little experience. However, we expect our judges know about craftsmanship in general, presentation, documentation, and ought to have a pretty good overview of what is possible. Trust those instincts.
The following is a review of our criteria, with some helpful questions that you might ask yourself in judging the entries or preparing documentation for them:
• Cohesiveness and appropriateness for the persona (overall impression) – 40 points
o Has this display presented a compelling picture of some aspect of the material culture of the persona?
o Has the entrant communicated the social as well as material context of the objects?
o What is the basis for this group of objects being considered together?
o In what way are these things typical of the culture of the persona?
o Are the items speculative or well-documented in this context? Is any speculation well-informed?
• Craftmanship – 30 points
o What is the quality of the construction?
o Does the entrant explain how the items were crafted?
o Did the entrant use any short cuts or make any concessions to modern concerns or problems (substitutions due to safety, etc.) ?
• Presentation of Documentation (how well the entries are explained – oral, written) – 20 points
o Does the documentation for objects meet the minimum requirements? These are:
1) Historical basis for the object,
2) Composition and Construction,
3) Where the Object is from (Persona / Culture), and
4) How it was used.
o Does the documentation provide context for the objects, why they were chosen, and the role that they would have played in the persona’s life? Does it enhance your understanding?
• Variety of techniques and materials used – 10 points.
o Did the entrant make multiple items using one technique/method, or did they enter items made using multiple techniques?