Friday, November 18, 2011

The Artist Statement (and the subject of Love)

I don't meet many artist who enjoy writing about their work; as essential as it is, the artist statement is often a thorn in our sides. The purpose is to offer a platform from which the viewer can explore the work. My approach is usually to be as brief and straight forward as possible. I grumble and edit and end up with words on paper that introduce people to my work.

When I sat down to write about the paper people, the task was more difficult than ever. I prefer to have my hands tell the story, but the collection must travel with a statement. Two words came to mind, a title perhaps: necessary luxuries. The Paper People were here to be a little bit braver about the things we crave need, but for some reason, can't quite deem essential. They challenge our habit of keeping secret that which is most human.

private collection Philadelphia

private collection Washington DC

One day, after quite a while of having only a few lines I would commit to, I came across this quote by visual, conceptual, installation performance artist, Helene Aylon:

"Because there  is a fear of sentimentality, love is not very often addressed -- and it is really the one motivation in all of our lives."

Well, there you have it, I was afraid to say it's about love. I was afraid of setting that word out to sail in a sea of misconceptions. For me love is
                               bolder & more brilliant than my words can convey. I would prefer the paper people say it for me. As Jean-Paul Sartre put it, "There is no love apart from the deeds of love; no potentiality of love but that which is manifest in loving."

private collection Indiana

So, as these pieces greet the public, they will be accompanied by the sparse words that came to mind on the first day I started ripping up newspaper...a question more than a statement:

What would we share if we didn't fear?
Which simple pleasures have become necessary luxuries?
The explorations of the paper people.



  1. i've always viewed the "artist statement" as an exercise in redundancy. even as a writer, for crying out loud, i am like...well, if i could explain what i was doing, WHY WOULD I HAVE DONE IT?!


  2. Right? We choose the best tools for the job at hand.
    I'm obviously no expert on writing statements (I can barely crank out one of my own) but as a reader of artist statements I would beg everyone to be brief. We know where to find you if we want to know a whole lot more. Sometimes aspects of the process need to be explained, but far too often I'm left feeling as though the statement was a long-winded justification.

  3. Love your work and as far as artists statements go (may I never write another as long as I live) that was rockin'

  4. Oh, I so agree with Lisa! You've put into words what I could not.

    Rosemary, I love that you've asked questions of the viewer instead of just trying to explain what sometimes cannot be explained.



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