“Sepal”; The Battle of Artist Statements

Sepal, Top View
Sepal, Bottom View
 Sepal, Detail Shot
Sepal, 2010
Polyester, cotton, batting.
18″ x 18″ x 6″. (Although I kind of see this as a maquette – I’d love to see it 12 or 15 feet high… but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.)
Sometimes I think, that while I dearly love the art world, sometimes, it’s a little full of itself.  It’s funny, because it seems there’s a lot of trying to “appeal to the public” and complaining about how art galleries (and the like) seem unwelcoming and intimidating to people. Hell, they’re intimidating to me. I think the problem is that the general public isn’t trained in the same context artists are. Or maybe artists aren’t trained in the same context as the general public.
To be accepted in this sphere, artists must be able to talk about their work deeply, and intelligently, and by doing so, sometimes we get lost in the jargon.  I’ve seen artist statements that are so lofty and “intellectual” that I don’t understand them, even after four years of art school.  If I don’t understand it, I won’t spend the time to read the whole thing.  It doesn’t make art accessible.  How about keeping things simple, in every day language, not to isolate (or elevate?) ourselves.  People not involved in art tell me they don’t “get it.” Is it because we over-analyze things?  Speak English, be friendly, let people stop being intimidated and let themselves respond to things, as you intended your art to do in the first place.

I’ve been struggling a little bit with my own art lately.  I’ve been making these forms out of my polyester material technique, and am expected to write an artist statement about them.  Really, I could come up with a bunch of junk, calling it intellectual, etc, but I don’t believe it.  What are they about?  Why am I making them?  I don’t really know, other than I fell in love with the process, and am enjoying making shapes out of them.  I feel they need more time to develop, and right now, I’m just exploring. Why do I need to come up with some “art speak” about them, that I don’t even believe?  Why can’t I just let them speak for themselves?  I’m thinking I will write a bit about the process, and the form, and let you respond as you will.

I feel like their true essence is under the surface, because they are not as literal as the art I usually make.  Maybe that’s why I’m having trouble with this- because it’s more of an unconscious thing.  The materials and the form are familiar, and yet not.  They may not be completely obvious to us, but they pull on something stored in our unconscious minds. They are made of a material, polyester, that is familiar to us all.  We wear it every day, it touches (literally) many aspects of our lives.  They are unfamiliar in the texture, rough, as opposed to the smoothness we are accustomed to in material.

Wait a minute!  That might be the start of an artist statement!

  2 comments for ““Sepal”; The Battle of Artist Statements

  1. March 3, 2010 at 10:05 PM

    A familiar battle! Geez.

  2. March 6, 2010 at 6:51 PM

    Here's a more polished version of an artist statement:

    “Morphoids”

    Morphoids are an embodiment of the unconscious. The forms and materials are
    familiar, and yet, we cannot immediately place them. They may not be
    completely obvious to us, but they pull on something in our unconscious minds.

    The material, polyester, is familiar to all of us, though not necessarily in
    this form. We come in contact with it every day – it literally touches our
    lives, whether we are aware of it or not. I present it in a different format,
    using it to create a new kind of surface.

    The forms are reminiscent of childhood toys, perhaps, or shapes found in nature
    or the imagination. Though the shapes seem familiar, through their scale, they
    are alien. There is something ominous about them, in their size, texture,
    shape, surface, and the way they almost seem alive.

    I work intuitively, attempting to access a bit of my own subconscious. The
    material follows its own will, with only a little coaching from me. I choose
    the colors spontaneously and sew the layers of polyester together haphazardly,
    letting that pattern develop as it will. The forms, while planned, develop
    their own quirks and kinks as I go. I collaborate with the object, as it
    develops into its final form.

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