Friday, September 24, 2010
The Artist Statement: (Part 1) Artists need to critique themselves
It is not uncommon for me to receive questions concerning the need for having-- and the frustration of writing-- an artist statement. This is a topic of interest to me. I find the fact that there is debate over whether they are of importance or not to be fascinating. It amazes me that there are so many people with strong opinions involving the composition of a relatively brief text-- in some cases less than 100 words.
I think the blunt of the loathing is due to the fact that an artist statement demands a lot from the artist writing it. The artist statement is pushy-- it demands that the artist justify his or her art and to reveal the intended purpose of said art. In other words, the artist statement can push artists out of their safe zone. This is very true when you consider that most people are their own worst critic. That said, I think writing an artist statement is important for that very reason. Artists need to critique themselves.
Writing an artist statement forces an artist to critique his or her practice and artwork in as few words as possible-- few words that can say a lot. One could say that writing an artist statement demands the artist to expose himself or herself to a tightly controlled frame of writing that spurs self-reflection. Almost as controlled as some of the brief conversations we may have about our art during chance introductions if there is an opportunity to do so. In that sense I think the artist statement can be a powerful tool in developing the ability of an artist to communicate verbally about his or her art during certain encounters.
Writing an artist statement can help prepare an artist for situations when he or she may need to speak clearly and concisely about his or her art. Stumbling with your words can make you appear foolish, correct? Writing an artist statement is the perfect training ground for learning how to speak about your art without pause. Thus, I think it is good practice to write an artist statement-- to tackle what may seem difficult-- even if the artist never reveals the statement to anyone else.
Take care, Stay true,