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American Gallery Of Juror Art Welcomes John Borstel

By: ANNE REED//January 26, 2009//

American Gallery Of Juror Art Welcomes John Borstel

By: ANNE REED//January 26, 2009//

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Deliberations’ American Gallery of Juror Art went a little viral last week, after it turned up in Boing Boing (“a directory of wonderful things”). Several bloggers picked it up from there, including Robert Ambrogi in Legal Blog Watch, and it popped up periodically on Twitter all week.

Deliberations is pleased to bring a small bit of attention to these varied artists, and to welcome a new one. John Borstel caught the spirit of voir dire everywhere with these word-and-portrait sketches from his Montgomery County, Maryland jury duty last March:


It’s actually unusual for John Borstel to make pictures of other people. “I like to take pictures of myself,” is how he describes his work, but his images aren’t self-portraits as most people think of them. In the themed “portfolios” on his web site, his body is more medium than subject — variously costumed, placed, lit, obscured, and sometimes contorted as he uses it to explore ideas. This is challenging and sometimes disturbing work, with an unflinching willingness to follow where thoughts lead. His Flickr photostream contains other examples, and some remarkable travel photography as well.

John Borstel wasn’t picked for a jury, which seems like a shame. Not only would he bring a wide life experience to the jury room (his bio says he has been “a puppetmaker, the art director of two veterinary journals, and a singing usher”), but his current work is rich in both the individual judgment and the collaborative skill that jury service requires. In his photography, as he says, "I usually work alone. That means I function as model, photographer, and viewer, all at once." But in his work as Humanities Director for the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, his main focus is collaboration. He is co-author and illustrator of Liz Lerman's Critical Response Process: A Guide for Getting Feedback on Anything You Make from Dance to Dessert, a book describing Ms. Lerman’s “multi-step, group system for giving and receiving useful feedback on creative processes and artistic works-in-progress.” He also authors the Critical Conditions blog, focused on “the practice of critique” and the Critical Response Process in particular. The main steps of the process are described here, and it wouldn’t need much adjusting to make a fine template for jury deliberations.

All rights in this drawing belong to John Borstel. Many thanks to him for allowing it to be shown here.


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