NOTA: Submissions & judging

Story by Thom Fountain

As I walked in I saw a bustle of people swarming around vertical aisles. Bright fluorescents revealed the intricacies of the deep, vivid colors of the room. Music poured out of a pair of computer speakers. The room held a vibrant energy all focusing on the task at hand: judging creativity.

NOTA (None of the Above), UW-Eau Claire’s arts and literary magazine, held its submission and judging event on March 4. The process works to pare down more than 100 pieces of student-submitted art, from paintings to videos, to the 40 or so that are published in the biannual journal. The event, which took most of the evening, transformed a large classroom into a gallery that was soon filled to the brim with art, artists and viewers.

I am not much of an artist, myself. I doodle in the margins of my notebooks, but the lines never seem to arrange on paper the way they do in my head. However, for this night, I decided to try something new, and I prepared two paintings and a photograph to submit.

Upon arrival, each participant was given a tag to write his or her name, title of the artwork, medium and email address. The entire selection process is anonymous, with the judges being any students who want to participate (including those who submit).

I walked around to see the few pieces that had already been submitted while more and more filtered in. Each artist is allowed up to five submissions, so the room filled up quite quickly.

The room had been open for submissions for two hours now, and an announcement was made that voting was to begin. Each person would receive a ballot with 10 lines to write the number of a submission they felt worthy of publishing. The energy rose in the crowd as deliberating began.

By this time, almost every medium was represented on the walls of the classroom. There were multiple illustrations, sculptures, paintings, photographs and even books. The task of choosing 10 to hold above the rest was daunting.

I paced around the upright tables, dodging the hectic steps of those rushing to make sure they saw everything before placing their votes. Being limited to less than 10 percent of the total work in the room really encouraged the viewers to focus on minute details. After I’d made my selections I turned in my ballot and hoped for the best.

The event was an excellent example of the vast creativity here at UW-Eau Claire. I always knew it existed, but being immersed in hundreds of examples opened my eyes to the talent that’s all
around us.

The Spring 2010 edition of NOTA will be available toward the end of the semester. For more information on NOTA, visit www.uwec.edu/nota.