The Artist Statement


Sherrie asked what I meant by “Artist Statement” in the last post. It’s not a silly question — I didn’t know what one was before I started entering shows a few years ago. But you get asked for them a lot, sometimes in the entry form, or later, if you’re accepted into the show. There are also lots of other ways to use an artist statement.

I like what Ariane Goodwin says about it, “Most importantly, an artist statement enriches an artist’s connection to their work….Understanding and naming what we do through language is not to have the beauty or mystery dismantled; though, as artists, we often fear this.” Alyson B. Stanfield also offers an e-book and consulting on her website to help you write one.

Usually they’re short, but I just entered a show that allowed an artist statement of up to 500 words, so I used them all. I’d been writing stuff on planes for the last month, so I had lots of words to choose from. Planes are a good place to write stuff you’ve been putting off, because you’re trapped, there’s no escape!

5 thoughts on “The Artist Statement”

  1. I like what Sonji Hunt had to say about having different artist statements for different occassions. I am well-aware of the importance of artist statements, sort of like a resume, but I also know that I am guilty of having a rather medicore artist statement. I think even *I* would skip to the next artist after reading my own artist statement, so I guess I have some homework to do. Maybe I’ll start with those links some other commenters mentioned.

    And this new “Thread Said” series is fun! How big (approximately, I’m sure they’re all different) are these new pieces?

  2. I have different artist statements for various purposes. Sometimes I need one to accompany my work, so that one is only a few sentences and slightly cryptic, like a veryvery short story. This comment is longer than that statement! Then, I have one for shows that deal mostly with mediums other than fabric. If I know that I’m one of the only fabric artists, I have a more elaborate statement that likens the importance of fabric in fine art. Then I have another one that goes with my work if I am teaching as part of the exhibition (like being a featured artist or something). You don’t have to stick to just one statement. It should apply to the venues your work is in.

    Pam…that image of swirling blahblahblah is totally me.

  3. Thanks for the mention, Pam. I agree with Ariane that the process of writing a statement is invaluable to an artist’s understanding of his or her own work. Those who go through the process (a real process, not a feeble attempt) are greatly rewarded. I also think it’s important to remember that your statement is a chance for you to define yourself. It’s one more way for you to take control over your career.

    My #1 rule for the statement is that it should compel people to look back at the work. If it’s just a bunch of words, they’ll be perused and the reader will move on to the next artist. If they’re the right words, the reader will look back at the work and have a stronger connection to it. In addition to my book, I have a freebie audio of my “rules” for artist statements, which artists might find useful if they’re just starting to write.

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