Artist Statements


THE STRUGGLE

I always struggle with writing an “Artist Statement”, the written description of my piece, for an art quilt for a show. It feels awkward and uncomfortable.

Even more daunting – someday I need to write an overall Artist Statement – a written description of my body of work. Once I participated in an exercise at our Central Oregon Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) where we worked on our overall Artist Statements. We worked on this exercise in small groups, with more experienced art quilters sharing their Artist Statements (which were quite impressive and rather intimidating) with the mere mortals like myself.

This was a very uncomfortable exercise and I could not wait for it to be over. My draft Artist Statement to me read like an essay on “What I did during my summer vacation” from 7th grade.

I think I need to first develop my “body of work” and where I want to go as an “Artist” before I can write my overall Artist Statement.


A RECENT ATTEMPT

Here is the Artist Statement I wrote today for the piece Ohio Shifted (2016) which will be in a show-within-a-show at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in October (see post Creative Quilt Challenges: Shape Shifting):

Ohio Shifted (2016)    Tierney Davis Hogan  18” W x 14.25” L    Recycled Silks

Ohio Shifted (2016) embraces the Creative Quilt Challenges, CHALLENGE #3: “Unlikely Materials”. It also and embraces the name of this exhibit-within-an-exhibit, “Shape Shifting”.

Made from recycled silk samples and scraps from garment manufacturing (“unlikely materials”), Ohio Shifted began its art quilt life as a very different piece.

It was originally created as part of a challenge with a friend to use up the scraps from her piece, a reinvented Ohio Star block, and was titled “Ohio”. The borders on the piece were dull brown garment silk and muddied the overall look.

I decided to “Shape Shift” it, and rework the piece and its borders. Instead of a dull brown silk border, I used bright fuchsia raw silk found at a thrift store (another “unlikely material”).

Shifting the dimensions and overall shape of the of the miniature square-within-a-square log cabin blocks in the center; and floating them brightly colored raw silk, I created a new version of the original piece “Ohio”. It is now “Shifted”.

IMG_2676.jpg


I did find resources online on writing Artist Statements just by googling “Artist Statement” that I plan on reviewing and studying further.

Do any of you have insights to share on writing Artist Statements? 


Featured image photo credit: Joseph Hart, free images.com

16 thoughts on “Artist Statements

  1. Gregor Weitzel says:

    “someday I need to write an overall Artist Statement – a written description of my body of work. Once I participated in an exercise at our Central Oregon Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) where we worked on our overall Artist Statements”

    I think that as you go on, this statement becomes description of this particular piece and not “a written description of my body of work”
    I think you have two ways to this: 1: to make this a true a written description of my body of work you are right, you have to have a fair-sized body of work
    2: It can be considered a description of who you are as an artist and what experiences made you into the artist you are.

    Good luck, keep creating, and enjoy your life.
    PS I enjoy your letters from you schnauzer a great deal. I love schnauzers and recently lost the doggie love of my life, Zellie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tierneycreates says:

      Gregor, so sorry for the lost of your dear furry one, My heart goes out to you and glad you like Sassy’s musings, she needs to catch up and write some more! Thank you for those wonderful insights on Artist Statements! Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  2. Christine says:

    I dislike writing so that part of entering a quilt into an exhibit is almost a game stopper for me. I’m surprised you fill this way because you write well & clearly in your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tierneycreates says:

      I love writing in my blog Christine but if I have to write a formal type of statement about a piece I feel frozen. However if I am talking about a piece on my blog it is easy. Must be some psychological thing – maybe I need a therapist intervention – ha! I hope you enter into exhibits and do not let this be show stopper for you 🙂

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  3. sandradny says:

    T: I’ve never heard of this activity before, so I’m not sure that I have anything useful to add, but I will say that what you described is the mechanical process, not what’s in your heart that drove you to create this beautiful piece. Would that be appropriate in an artist’s statement?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. tierneycreates says:

    Thanks is a great insight Sandra! I do have other Artist Statements on art quilts that address more of what was in my heart. For this one I was compelled, related to the purpose of the exhibit (in support of my friends’ book) to be more mechanical. However that said, in the future maybe Artist Statements would be easy if I just focus on the heart part! 🙂

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  5. Sue says:

    An interesting topic that I struggle with also. I am the newbie in an art quilt group, and have two pieces in my first show ever, so will probably have to produce some kind of statement soon. I think part of the problem for me (and maybe for you) is a feeling that it is presumptuous to call ourselves artists in the first place. Also, if you are anything like me, your interests, and your work to date, is quite varied. But I did a little exercise recently that was discussed in Elizabeth Barton’s book Working in a Series. Print a bunch of small pictures of your pieces, and lay them all out together on your table or on the floor, and see if you can decipher repeating patterns, themes, consistencies. If you can discover the patterns you work in, or themes you return to frequently, or even methods, you might begin to be able to describe yourself as an artist, rather than describing the works themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. tierneycreates says:

    I did not NEED another quilt/craft related book but I went and ordered today the Elizabeth Barton book Sue suggested. Thanks Sue and Melanie (and thanks for the link Melanie) 🙂

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