Saturday, April 14, 2007

Thoughts about Artist's Statements

Disclaimer: The following is my opinion about artist's statements.
First of all, most artists don't need to read other artists' statements. Statements are not for other artists; most artists 'get it' before they ever read a word. And, it's not just artists who 'get it' either. A statement should only enhance the intuitive quality of art.

But---Since we live in a quantifying world, artists are sometimes required to write statements. It is not easy. I think a statement should answer these questions:

Are you unique?

Are you communicating?

Are you marketable?

Voice, style, whatever you want to call it -- that's the essence of an artist's work. It's what makes an artist an artist. No one else does what you do. You are distinct. Your work stands alone. You are identifiable. This is maybe the most difficult thing to put into words because 'in words' is not where the value resides--it is in the work.Teasing this out and converting it into words--what the work is--is one of the hardest things an artist has to do.

Does your work speak to the viewer? How do you want it to speak? Is it telling them about the uniqueness of your work? Is it your voice? Does the artist's statement help them understand your communication better? At some time, on some level, work must communicate. Even if you are only communicating with yourself, there's no getting around it. Art speaks.*

*conversation with my college art prof.:
"What kind of statement are you making?"
Me: "Statement? There isn't anything to say. It's a teapot."
Prof: "Okay."

Lets face it, no gallery, no show, no body is going to be interested in your work unless it sells. You finding your niche is the key. Marketable to academia/ marketable to the general public/ marketable to galleries/ marketable to connoisseurs/ whatever the target is, whoever is going to take an interest in your work, marketability has to come in somewhere in the mix. To non-artists, marketability sometimes equals validation. People buy art for many reasons. Because they love it. Because it is a good investment. Because it shows they have good taste. Because they want to learn more.

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