Judges and the Judging Process

The jurist panel consists of three (3) independent judges who are selected annually from across the country for their in-depth knowledge and experience in multiple art media. In October, they will review the digital images of all applicants to select the Festival artists and the Waitlist artists. In March the same jurist panel will review the work of the exhibitors to determine those artists they consider eligible for awards. Judging of the awards is based upon the overall quality of the artwork exhibited. After a booth is selected by a judge, the artist is responsible for selecting one piece for Saturday's awards processing that best represents his or her entire body of work. The Best of Show, Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation Award, and the Morse Museum Award are each presented for an individual piece of art. Awards are presented solely at the discretion of the judges.


2019 Judges

Norma Hendrix

Norma Hendrix is the founder and executive director of Cullowhee Arts, a non-profit organization whose mission is "To create vibrant learning communities through workshops and retreats taught by exceptional instructors at inspiring locations from the mountains of Western North Carolina to sites across the country and the world."

An exhibiting artist for over 40 years, she holds a BFA from Ohio University, an MA in Painting and Drawing from Western Carolina University, and an MFA from Johnson State College, Vermont. She has served as artist in residence and presenter at Wilson College, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; The Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vermont; and Atelier Four Winds, Aureille, France.

While serving as a professor of Drawing, Painting and Art History for ten years at Western Carolina University, she founded and directed Studio 598 ¬– a teaching studio and exhibition space in Sylva, NC. She served as Education Director at the Bascom Art Center in Highlands, NC from 2009 – 2011, and has been guest curator at Western Carolina University's Fine Art Museum. Hendrix has had numerous invitations to act as juror for group exhibits, competitions and art festivals.

As recipient of the North Carolina Arts Council's Regional Arts Project Grant, she created a body of work entitled "A Thousand Mornings," which culminated in solo exhibits at the Fine Art Museum of Western Carolina University and the Frank Gallery in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Hendrix's artwork is held in private and public collections in the US and France.

As director of Cullowhee Arts, Norma Hendrix currently directs retreats and workshops in North Carolina, New Mexico, Maryland and international destinations: this year, New Zealand & France.


Joseph Mella

With almost thirty years of experience working in art museums, Joseph Mella manages, curates, and oversees the operations of the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and its collections within the College of Arts and Science. Prior to arriving at Vanderbilt in 1992, Mella served as Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at the Rockford Art Museum, Rockford, Illinois, and in a similar capacity at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont. He holds an M.A. in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he also completed a Certificate in Art Collection Care and Maintenance. Mella received a B.F.A. in Printmaking from the University of Iowa, Iowa City.

In addition to applying museum standards and best practices to the operations and procedures of the Fine Arts Gallery, Mella has been responsible for more than doubling the Gallery's collections from 2,957 objects in 1992 to 7,130 works of art today, Mella has curated and organized over eighty exhibitions at Vanderbilt, including a major retrospective and national tour of painting, drawings and prints by the Ecuadorian master of the twentieth century, Oswaldo Guayasamín, and the "Star Chamber," a site-specific interactive sculpture by British land artist Chris Drury at Vanderbilt's Dyer Observatory. Mella has also established programmatic collaborations with other university galleries that include Fisk University, Bucknell University, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, University of Memphis, State University of New York, Potsdam, and collaborations beyond the academic world such as a series on public art that has brought such highly-recognized artists to Vanderbilt as Frank Stella, Tom Otterness, Stephen Antonakos, Beverly Pepper, and Richard Haas.

Mella is also responsible for the establishment and subsequent development of a collection of contemporary graphics, photographs, drawings and artists' books with strengths found in work by living women artists such as Mona Hatoum, Donna Ferrato, Carrie May Weems, Maria Magdalena Campos Pons, Louise Bourgeois, Alison Saar, Kara Walker, Shirin Neshat, Leslie Dill, Koo Kyung Sook, Sue Coe, Kiki Smith, Lorna Simpson, Fransje Killaars, and Christine Baumgartner, as well as other highly recognized international artists such as Gerhard Richter, Martin Puryear, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Bruce Conner, Hamish Fulton, Robert Colescott, Joseph Kosuth, Michael Craig-Martin, Enrique Chagoya, Sigmar Polke, Willie Cole, Alexis Rockman, Mel Chin, and Terry Winters.


David Bryce

David Bryce is an award-winning artist who draws and sculpts with clay. His creations have been displayed at such prestigious arts events as the Washington, D.C. Craft Show; the Smithsonian Craft Show; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show as well as fine-art festivals across the U.S. Bryce, who holds an MFA from Queens College of the City of New York, has also been a juror for many major exhibitions, including the Berkshire Crafts Fair, Long’s Park Art Festival, the St. Louis Art Fair, the Des Moines Arts Festival and the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. He has completed commissioned pieces for residential and commercial clients in the U.S. and around the world, while his work has also been purchased for display in public spaces. Early in his career, Bryce specialized in bronze casting and architectural restoration. He has also served as artist-in-residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Sweet Briar, and as a visiting lecturer at Fairleigh Dickinson University and State University of New York at Oneonta.