Monday, September 27, 2010
The Artist Statement Part 2: Why it is Important to have an Artist Statement
I have noticed two opinionated sides when it comes to the importance-- or lack thereof-- of having an artist statement. The supportive side will claim that the artist statement is of importance because it helps guide viewers so that they have a better understanding of the art they are viewing. In the extreme people will go as far as to say that the artist statement is a reflection of how well the artist in question can communicate both verbally and visually-- implying that an artist who writes a poor artist statement is at least partially discredited as an artist-- as in the validity of his or her art may also be questioned.
The opposing side will claim that the artist statement is not necessary because the artwork should be the statement-- the old saying “Art should speak for itself“ comes to mind. People who oppose artist statements generally feel that the statement can become a distraction as far as the artwork is concerned. In the extreme those who oppose artist statements will go as far as to say that the statement is an insult to all visual artists because it cheapens the value of visual language by projecting the idea that visual art fails to communicate openly with viewers.
Regardless of your opinion about writing an artist statement you must acknowledge the importance of having one in the sense that artists are often required to submit a statement in order to be considered for an exhibit or to apply for residencies and other forms of financial or material support. Thus, it is often necessary to write them and to write them well. The artist statement is not going away any time soon as near as I can tell. Thus, artists need to consider that at some point they may have to write one. So why not just get it over with and do it, right?
My experience dictates that artists who have an artist statement are more likely to attract press both online and offline. As an art writer and interviewer I will acknowledge that I tend to write more thoroughly about an artist if a thought provoking artist statement is provided. The same goes for interviews-- I’m more apt to ask detailed questions if an artist statement is available. Point blank-- a well thought out artist statement lures my interest-- and I know that other art writers agree with my view.
I consider the artist statement to be a crucial read when discovering the grit of what an artist is pursuing with his or her artwork. Furthermore, if an artist has an interesting artist statement I know that he or she will provide fascinating answers if contacted for an interview. Hundreds of artists have their interview with me listed in their cv-- and I'd say the blunt of those interviewed artists provided me with an artist statement or had one available online before I contacted them.
To sum this up-- providing an artist statement can lead to press. I don't think the majority of artists understand that a relatively short piece of text can help establish further exposure for their artwork. That is why having a detailed artist statement is important.
Take care, Stay true,