Jun 6, 2009

And now for something completely different . . .

I need to write an artist statement . . . . I think . . . . maybe. Anyone have any good tips or websites to help?

I am contemplating accepting an invitation to send work to an Alumni Exhibition at the University of South Dakota from where I graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design in 1988. If I accept, it will be the third time I have participated in the event in the 21 years since I left. Somehow I have ended up with no pictures of my past entries accept this itty bitty version of a rather large piece - I just snatched it from my page the University gave me in their Alumni listing last time.

This is actually probably about 18" x 24" and it hangs in a frame in my bedroom. It was made from white muslin which I dyed and painted and marked and laid flat to dry on cement in the hot sun, making it extremely stiff. I cut parts of the dyed and painted fabric into imperfect square-ish shapes and haphazardly sewed them to the large piece I hadn't cut. I did it all in one day on a whim (in fact it is titled Out of the Blue) in 2004 not having made my own art for several years before that day and it was the last formal piece I made until last fall.

So, as always, I'm taking the long route to get to the real purpose of my post. I've said before that I don't think, at least in my case, my degree meant a hill of beans as far as being a successful artist. I am not successful . . . hopeful and optimistic sometimes . . . . but I know far more successful artists that were never formally trained than I know successful artists that were. And some of you that are reading this studied formally and we have talked about keeping it quiet because it somehow makes us feel we have to prove something. Well, I think sometimes I spent four years and a lot of money to hear and learn from professors mostly what was wrong with my work more than what was right with it. So, that makes it easy, almost habitual, to just kind of already assume and announce what is wrong with my work upfront when I blog about it or share it publicly. It also makes it very hard to send it to an Alumni exhibition - throw it back in the lion's den so to speak. Some of my professors are still there. I am really debating it because I am working in a totally different medium than I studied there or was even available to study there.

In trying to decide whether or not to do this I went to the alumni listings from past exhibitions to read other artists' statements to see if I should even attempt this and it becomes very obvious to me how I see myself and my work so differently than most artists see themselves or their work. So many statements I read were a bit pretentious, deep, mysterious, philosophical, all about important self discovery and meticulous social observations presented in words I don't even always understand. I am so simple in my ways, my thought processes, my inspirations, my work, my purpose. I feel underdressed. There is no big purpose in my work but yet it is purposeful. I am not churning out formulated pieces by the doznes every week to make a quick buck. I am truly exploring and searching and trying to materialize ideas that I am interested in. It is not about the selling of it and I hope that shows. I like selling work very much and really actually need to sell more one of these days but being true to a vision or idea or to the journey that I have, simple as it is, and to take the time to carefully and thoughtfully execute it is important to me. But making some big social or artistic statement is not my purpose either at this point. So do I write about the simplicity of my work? I have often described my pieces as vignettes, never intended to be masterpieces but lots of small pieces made to form one long large study.

That's the other part about this I am concerned with. Each participant can only send in one piece. I have to create something that stands alone and represents my work without the benefit of any of the probable viewers ever seeing any other piece I've made recently. I often think my work is better when all of the pieces are considered as a small part of that one big study. I may have to come up with a multi-character or large mosaic of several pieces. hmmmmm . . . . have to think on that.

My brain is mushy. I have written too much once again. But, I am sharpening my mind to get back to work next week. I've started blog visits yesterday and that felt so good. That is my project for the next week to get caught up as much as I can on the internet so I'm ready to just roll up my sleeves next week and get busy. I have to turn my artist statement and commitment in as soon as I get home so I need to work on that this week too.

Happy Saturday night! Hope you're having a great weekend!


yoborobo said...

Marsha - I know what you're saying, because I come from that background, too. If I were in your shoes, I would make a list of the reasons I wanted to be in the exhibition. If those reasons were compelling enough, I would write a simple and straightforward statement(remembering not to apologize for my work.:). What I love most about your work is that it is honest, joyful and unpretentious.

xox Pam

Lumilyon said...

Marsha, you know my feelings on this matter. I agree with all that yoyborobo has said. One of the reasons I'm loving the creative community that I'm part of here in Blogland is that it's largely free from Artist's statements that begin "My practice..." I am not ashamed or embarrassed that I studied Art and Design, it taught me how to think for myself. Conversely, I don't feel it gives me any kind of head start in the blogging creativity stakes. We all come to where we are from different places and where you are now creatively is where you should be. You need to allow yourself to OWN who and what you are but you're possibly too fragile to do that right now, with everything that's been going on. Take care, lovely Lady x

Hayley Egan said...

That piece is beautiful, Marsha. I'm torn on the studying matter. In Europe it seems to really matter alot (in terms of credibility for galleries and earning grants and things.) This is making me think I should go to art school... I'm still deciding. The bottom line is that learning can never be a bad thing in any shape or form, and though you think your studies have little to do with your art now, I think alot of your pieces have a very refined, precise look to them. I'm not saying this is because of the theories you learnt about composition, but it may have a lot to do with the hours you spent thinking about it as a part of your degree.

I'm so glad you're out of the hospital with your father! Awesome news. X

aliceinparis said...

Simple, direct and from the heart. Don't apologize. Your work is unique and beautiful!
Love the work you posted with this!

Terri Kahrs said...

Marsha, I totally agree with Yoborobo and Lumilyon. Make a list and exhibit because you WANT to share your work. Don't do it out some sense of obligation or a feeling that you "should or have to".

It doesn't matter what your training was years ago, My Dear Friend,what matters is where you are in your journey now. You are definitely NOT pretentious, nor is beautiful work. Listen to your heart and your Sweetheart. Hugs, Terri xoxo

Cathy said...

i think if u go to yr 5th paragraph, and begin w/ "there is no purpose in my work' and go from there, that is your artist statement. it is pure, clean, honest, and real.

i think yr stmt is the same premise we who sell have to use when creating our work: if i try to make things i think will sell they come out kinda flat/dead. if i create from what's within me, then my pieces tend to be alive and appealing. use that approach with your writing: forget what "should" be said, and just speak from within.
love, cath

crafty capers said...

Marsha, you have 'Imposter Syndrome'! You do! I first came across this in a book by Kelly Rae and there is even an entry on Wikepedia about it. Apparantly men don't suffer from it HA HA! I felt so strongly I did a journal page on it a while ago. The trouble is, the more succesful you are, the more you feel like an imposter - it's a vicious circle. Your art is beautiful and inspiring to many of us. We have all moved on since our days of study so just go for it :-)

Kim Mailhot said...

Only do what makes your soul shine and fly high, beautiful Marsha. If you feel like this challenge is one you need to set for yourself,then go for it full heartedly and proud and sure of the quality of your unique work. If it feels like it is to get recognition and judgement from outside that you are a "good" and "worthy" artist, then I say, let it go...Life is too short and already filled with so many challenges (as you have surely felt recently !). Again, do what makes your heart and spirit fill with joy or determination, and nothing less !(just to let you know, I am saying this speech to myself at the same time !;)
Stay well and stay true to wonderful you !