Does anyone actually like composing artist statements? Or are they simply a necessary evil. They’re required for these residencies I’m applying to, and I find them maddeningly difficult to write, potentially quite misleading, and entirely beside the point.
12 thoughts on “Fartist Statement”
HA. Good timing: I was up until three last night, helping a friend write an artist statement. A six- or seven-hour writing fit to create one page (and still not finish).
I like writing anything, so, sure, I like writing them. But I wish that the people requiring them offered more guidelines. As in: this is more what we’re looking for, what we really want you to talk about, etc. I think that would help people. Rather than having the goals be more coded, unspoken.
But it seems to me that artist statements and statements of purpose are used more to eliminate applications than anything else. Maybe that’s cynical of me, and I’ve never been on any kind of admissions team. But it seems to me that they’re function is to see “who knows how to speak the code.” (If I’m wrong about this, please tell me. I really may just be cynical here, as I never know how to speak the code.)
My issue with them is that they reward and/or penalize artists for the wrong reasons. Is it the way an artist speaks about his or her work that’s important, or the work itself? I think you may be right about how they’re used in some institutional settings, Adam. But I also think they’re a way for panels to make their judgements without a sincere or direct understanding of the art.
I bet it’s an even bigger headache for visual artists.
I think the work is more important. I think it’s silly to require a painter, say, to be able to say anything about his or her work. Why should they be expected to know anything about what their work is about? And express it coherently?
I think people should be able to write, in general, but I don’t really get the statement. It’s nice when people can talk about their work, but it shouldn’t be such a big part of the application. And I think it should be more casual.
The exception might be if someone is applying for something in academia, where they’ll be required by the field/institution to write about their work, and work by others. But even there…some people are great artists and have nothing interesting or intelligent or coherent to say about their own work. They shouldn’t be penalized for that, I think.
Dear Art Fascists,
I WANT TO WRITE.
I NEED MONEY.
I WANT YOU TO GIVE ME MONEY SO THAT I MIGHT WRITE.
Not too hard, yeah?
I like this one – I always think too hard about it and then end up worrying that I sound too formal.
That’s exactly what happens to me. I naturally start tending toward the grand gesture, and end up sounding like a pretentious prick. It’s like I have to get it out of my system before saying something honest and direct.
I do the same thing with cover letters for jobs. After about 70 no-gos, I started writing a professional sounding one and a casual one (hitting the same points in both) then Frankenstitched them together. Got an adjunct gig at a community college soon after, so I guess it worked?
ha – that’s actually a good idea.
I’m thinking about just putting: N/A
Check one of your recent interviews. You probably composed an artist’s statement in one of your answers.
Good point, Bill. The problem is, I want to work on material much different than that about which I’ve been interviewed. Anyway, I’ll come up with something.
as someone who got a bfa in photography, i am one of the few people i know that actually likes writing artist statements. however, I always approach them as an extension of the work itself, or even as a textual level of what is visually displayed. i don’t like explaining in them, because the work should to that, but i like using them to add another dimension to the work.
personal statements though, for applications/whatever, i HATE writing.