Artist Statements, Part II

In my 08/25/16 post, Artist Statements, I shared my struggle with writing Artist Statements for art quilts. In my more recent (03/30/17) post, What’s on My Lap, I again mentioned my struggle with writing Artist Statements, and  Mary of Zippy Quilts shared the following:

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I could not turn down a suggestion for a blog post!

In my first post in August 2016 on Artist Statements I only whined about having to write an Artist Statement and then shared my completed statement for a piece that was being shown at the 2016 Pacific International Quilt Festival (PIQF).

This time I thought I would do something more than whining!

So I spent time researching information about writing Artist Statements and used that information to write the Artist Statement for this piece below – The Recycled Road:

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The Recycled Road (2017) by Tierney Davis Hogan

Here are the basic details on The Recycled Road, I will use these later in the post to write my Artist Statement for this piece:

  • It is made from recycled materials: denim jeans, corduroy pants, corduroy shirt, curtains, sweat pants, home decor fabric scraps, and a tweed jumper
  • The art quilt is the second in quilt in my series The Recyclings (yesterday I decided the name of my series)
  • I hand quilted this quilt to give it an organic feel
  • This quilt was inspired by the Central Oregon SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) group annual exhibit theme “Pathways”.
  • The piece measures 18″ x 40″
  • I hand quilted the quilt to give it an organic feel

General Artist Statement vs. Artist Statement About A Work

A bit of research reinforced what I heard in the art quilting community  – that there are basically two types of Artist Statements: 1) A general statement about you as an Artist; or 2) a statement about a specific piece of artwork.

General Artist Statement

A couple of years ago at one of our Central Oregon SAQA group meetings, we broke into small groups to do an exercise to work on our (General) Artist Statements, the about our art and ourselves as an artist.

I was overwhelmed by this exercise for several reasons: 1) Our Central Oregon SAQA group contains many real textile artists and art quilters – I mean nationally and internationally known artists – I was completely intimidated; 2) I was a new art quilter, recently transitioned from traditional quilting to dabbling in improvisational art; and 3) I was not sure if I could really consider myself an “Artist”.

Several experienced art quilters in the group shared with me examples of their professional artist Artist Statements, which I politely accepted and graciously thanked them for sharing, but it only intimidated me more (it was a “deer in headlights” experience).

A couple months later, I realized I was just not ready to write my General Artist Statement, and that was okay. I had not established what I feel is a solid and cohesive body of textile art. Currently I am working towards this and in the near future I hope to write my General Artist Statement.

I found some great resources online for writing General Artist Statements that I will use in the future, here are the links:

ArtStudy.org Sample Artist Statement

Creativity in Action Art League Blog – 8 Artist Statement We Love

ArtBusiness.com – Your Artist Statement: Explaining the Unexplainable

Agora Gallery – How to Write An Artist Statement: Tips From The Art Experts

“How To Write An Artist’s Statement”, Contemporary Quilt Art Association

10 tips for writing your artist statement, TextileArtist.org

One of my favorite discoveries on advice on writing General Artist Statements was the article “The Artist Statement & Why They Mostly Suck” on the website bmoreart.com. I loved this quote:

“A good artist statement should enhance what a viewer sees in your work and provide a concise handle to approach a visual piece. It should be accurate, well-written, and correctly punctuated. It also should be specific to your work and offer unique insight into your process.”

Jean Wells Keenan, textile artist, has a wonderful example of a General Artist Statement on her website jeanwellsquilts.com:

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Artist Statement About A Specific Work

It is my goal/dream someday to write a well-crafted General Statement about my body of work and how I approach my art, someday. For now I am just trying to write an Artist Statement about a specific art quilt.

So I searched online for inspiration on writing Artist Statements specific to a piece of work. At ArtsyShark.com I found these helpful tips in the article: “How to Write an Amazing Artist Statement” that could be applied to either General Artist Statements or an Artist Statement on a specific piece of art:

Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing your artist statement:

  • The ideal length is one to three paragraphs.
  • It should be in first-person.
  • You should not tell your audience how to feel or what to look at.
  • You want to inform your viewer but not overly explain things – leave room for the viewer to make his or her own connections.
  • Ask yourself: Is this writing specific to my work or can it be about anyone’s?
  • Don’t use phrases like: I hope, My work aspires to, My goal is, The Viewer will, These paintings (do something).

Remember: The key to an amazing statement is to write A LOT, then edit, edit, edit. You should go through at least 3 drafts. This is not something you can do in an evening – it’s going to take time, so find the best time of day that works for you to write, such as over morning coffee. Write in a way that feels comfortable – type or write long hand.

My favorite guideline I discovered online for writing an artist statement for a specific piece of art, was from the website hysterically named – Getting Your Sh*t Together: making life better for artists (gyst-ink.com). Here are highlights from this websites had the following Artist Statement Guidelines:

  • An Artist Statement is a general introduction to your work, a body of work, or a specific project.
  • It should open with the work’s basic ideas in an overview of two or three sentences or a short paragraph and then go into detail about how these issues or ideas are presented in the work.
  • You can include some of the following points:
    • Why you have created the work and its history.
    • Your overall vision.
    • What you expect from your audience and how they will react.
    • How your current work relates to your previous work.
    • Where your work fits in with current contemporary art.
    • How your work fits in with the history of art practice.
    • How your work fits into a group exhibition, or a series of projects you have done.
    • Sources and inspiration for your images.
    • Artists you have been influenced by or how your work relates to other artists’ work. Other influences.
    • How this work fits into a series or longer body of work.
    • How a certain technique is important to the work.
    • Your philosophy of art making or of the work’s origin.
  • The final paragraph should recapitulate the most important points in the statement.
  • Ask yourself “What are you trying to say in the work?” “What influences my work?” “How do my methods of working (techniques, style, formal decisions) support the content of my work?” “What are specific examples of this in my work” “Does this statement conjure up any images?”
  • Consider – Who is your audience? What level are you writing for? What will your statement be used for? What does your statement say about you as an artist and a professional?

Okay, Ready, Write (The Draft)

I could have spent all day online looking at examples of Artist Statements, but now it is time to write my draft statement for the piece The Recycled Road:

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The Recycled Road (2017)

18″ W x 40″ L

Recycled denim, corduroy, cotton jersey, wool and rayon.

Designed, pieced and hand quilted by Tierney Davis Hogan

Artist Statement (draft)

The Recycled Road is the second piece in my series The Recyclings, small art quilts from recycled materials.

Inspired by the theme of “Pathways” for the 2017 Central Oregon SAQA group annual art quilt exhibit, this “pathway” begins at the orange corduroy boundary between the multicolor “road” and the plain gray “road”. This “road” continues beyond the top edge of the quilt; as it has no boundaries beyond the limits we set on our own imagination.  The pathway in this quilt represents one of many roads traveled by our creative spirit.

Using improvisational piecing techniques, I created this piece from all recycled materials (denim jeans, corduroy shirt, corduroy pants, tweed jumper, sweat pants, curtains and home decor fabric scraps. Seeking a bit of adventure in working with recycled clothing, I used an old pair of faded and threadbare gray sweat pants to create the edges of the road. I hand quilted the piece to give it an organic feel. Hand quilting the recycled fabrics was an unique multilayered and meditative tactile experience.

Most of the fabrics were not reusable as clothing or home decor and were destined to end up in a landfill. Reimagining recycled clothing and other materials into art quilts satisfies my desire to honor the environment and make art that is eco-conscious. Ending up in an art quilt is a better outcome than ending up in a landfill.

Okay, so now that I have written my draft Artist Statement for The Recycled Road, I am going to let it simmer overnight and see how I feel about it in the morning.


Feature image credit: BSK, free images.com 

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13 thoughts on “Artist Statements, Part II

  1. Melanie McNeil says:

    Seems like good advice and you’ve created a strong draft as a basis. I do wonder if people who spend time deliberately assessing their finished works have an easier time writing statements. It seems like largely the same process, except that you are sharing some of the information with judges and other strangers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gray Barn Designs says:

    I agree with Melanie. It seems the process of developing your artist statement for each piece is a journey, much the same as the journey to create your work of art. It’s good to write, reflect and re-write. Don’t doubt your ability as an artist and your ability to express your art through words!

    Liked by 1 person

    • tierneycreates says:

      Thanks, I appreciate your comment. Learning to have confidence has been a growth experience. After a couple years in SAQA I am not as intimidated by the professional textile artists in the group, I have just learned to appreciate their work and to appreciate my growing body of work 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • tierneycreates says:

      Thanks for your comments, and keep plugging away on the blog writing thing, I struggled when I started (it was painful to compose a post), now it seems there are 2000 post ideas streaming in my head (just not enough time in my life to write them all down – ha!) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. RB says:

    This is something I deal with on a weekly basis in my work with artists. An artist should have an artist statement and an artist biography. An artist statement is usually short -up to 400 words at the most and describes your vision, intent and way of working. The biography is also short about 300 words and usually outlines your education, training, practice (simply), awards, exhibitions, publications, and any sort of collections including private, museums and institutional.

    http://www.beautifulthingsartblog.com

    Liked by 1 person

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