Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Artist's Statement


Remember about a month ago I posted that silly, pretentious internet-generated Artist's Statement? (here)  Then I told you that for the next SAQA meeting our assignment was to write a real Artist's Statement for ourselves—we are working through all those tiresome " how to be professional" topics. Today was the next meeting and we brought our statements. Here is mine, a work in progress.

My artwork begins as memory—impressions of places I've been, people I have known, the world around me, yesterday's walk, last summer's garden. Memory is imperfect, exaggerating certain things, discarding others altogether. And similarly, while my work may resemble something real, it is reality edited, biased, and colored by time and circumstance. I am always hoping to connect to the part of the memory that held meaning for me, regardless of absolute accuracy.

Recently I have begun using recycled clothing fabric, which seems to come to me with its own memories. It has a depth and richness that I respond to. My background in painting and drawing is fundamental to what I do, but I choose to work with fabric for its familiarity and emotional connection to our human experience. 

It seemed to be pretty well received. It was shorter and different from most of the others. I actually kind of enjoyed writing it. Does it sound pretentious? I hope not. Would it enhance your interest in looking at my work?

It was illuminating to hear the statements others wrote. Some were quite good. I especially liked one that started out something like, "there are already too many hard edges in the world and so I work with fabric..."  Many people seemed to include a lot of biographical information and we were pretty well agreed that a biography is a different document—the statement should be about the art. The exception would be when the artist's history is directly related to the art—"After retiring from a 30-year career as a civil engineer, I now make art about bridges..."

After hearing about 10 different statements I began to notice oft-repeated phrases about "learning needlework from my mother (grandmother)..." and how "I love color..." and "I am inspired by Nature..." While all those things probably are true for the person who wrote them, they have become overused and generic. Better, we decided, to convey that idea through a more personal example like "my past as a circus clown instilled in me a love of bold, saturated color and polka dots..." There were some statements that were heavy on technique details, which we discussed. Some people felt that was an essential part of the statement, others disagreed. I am usually put off by technique descriptions in artist's statements. In general I think technique should be transparent when you view art. Of course it is always the other artists who are interested in technique!

It was a useful and engaging discussion. Nice to leave a meeting feeling like your brain has gotten a little workout.


  1. I like your statement very much. It builds a bridge between us and you and your work, simply and without pretense.

  2. This is so perfect. A fine balance between the how and the why.

  3. I really like your statement. It draws me in. It makes me want to know more about you. I can relate to what you have written. Pretentious? Not at all! I really dislike the artist statements that are technical. I go through the list and think, "I can do that, what makes you special?". Your statement is personal. I see it relating to a host of people, even if they don't work in cloth. I do love the ones about hard edges and former life as a clown. LOL! Have a fantastic time on your trip!!! I look forward to lots of color filled photos and trip reports.

  4. Anonymous7:04 AM

    Your statement is lovely,like all your writing.I would have loved to have you for my English and Art teacher when I was in school. Julie