Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Caterpillar is to butterfly as book is to ? or Writing an Artist Statement

This week I thought I’d write about the process of developing an artist statement. Instead, you are getting a super-short post as I continue to wrestle with the statement that has to accompany these photos. Together they will soon be off to East Gippsland Art Gallery to be considered for selection for “Books Beyond Words – Books Evolving”.

I wasn’t planning to suggest that I am expert in these matters, although I think I probably face the task with less dread than some artists I know.

The artist statement is crucial if you want to send your work, well, anywhere really. You will be asked for one in any gallery context, and as it will be representing you in your absence, it needs to be good!

So I will definitely put together some information on exactly what an artist statement is, what to include, what not to include and the process I use to write mine. I also have some references on the subject to share.

In the mean time, you could pop along to this site, which has been developed to help the struggling artist to generate their own Critical Response to the Art Product (or CRAP). I was delighted with this pearl which I hope to include somehow!

I'm troubled by how the reductive quality of the sexual signifier notates a participation in the critical dialogue of the 90s.


Hmm, maybe not!






  1. I so wish I could see these in person! Beautiful.

    As for that marvelous statement generator link, my postal zip code (95570) gave me:

    As an advocate of the Big Mac Aesthetic, I feel that the subaqueous qualities of the purity of line notates the accessibility of the work.

    Frighteningly, I think I know people who might take that seriously...

  2. the snippets from your latest booky work are really intriguing amanda! good luck with selection

    but arteest statements eegads....

    they've really assumed a place and importance within art all their own... and that usually peeves me. It's not that I'm bugged by having to write my own CRAP (hee hee hee wonderful acronym) I tend to write very short statements - less is more is my motto... no, what bugs me is that said CRAP assumes the intermediary between audience and art piece..... Audiences (art prize/ show selector included) are now trained (like pavlov's dogs) to look to the artist statement for guidance and to experience artwork in combination with the artist statement.... maybe in the near future we artists will just submit arty statements.... no other work required (yes I'm getting facetious! sorry!)

    for pity's sake people - just trust you own gut when looking at art... don't worry that you might 'get it wrong' - a subjective experience/opinion cannot be 'right' or 'wrong' - an artwork is either successful in transmitting the makers intention (whatever that may be) or it's not..... so an arty statement is either superfluous or an impediment - either way it's generally CRAP.

    *rant over*

  3. While I'm waiting for your advice on the Artist's Statement I am really, really wrapt in your photos of the caterpillar, pupa and butterfly. This is going to be wonderful - well, it already is - can't wait to see the end product.

  4. Gorgeous photos Amanda. What interesting and beautiful work you've been doing! I have to agree with Ronnie's rant on artist statements, I've always found them so pretentious. But you're right of course that they are necessary and one may as well learn how to make them well. We await your guidance! Your blog has become a really wonderful fount of knowledge.

  5. My dearest husband says I've got an "Arts B-S switch" which I turn on when confronted with things like artists' statements... and I think he's right. I agree with Ronnie that they're usually superfluous and CRAP but sadly necessary so I guess we just have to bite the bullet and learn how to write the darned things! I love how your book is turning out... I too wish I could see it in person! BTW, you asked about Brisbane visits - well there's nothing concrete planned yet, it's just that my son is moving up to Brisbane for work which provides many excuses to come up (as if I needed them!) but I'll let you know dates once we've got ourselves organised. Sara x

  6. I wish I could see, smell, touch them. The one on top is just beautiful and mysterious.
    Re: artist's statement. I find it much easier to write than speak about my work. Not so much with friends, but with other art professionals, gallerists, etc. Everything I think about my work, and often I've already written about it, on my blog, or for an application or exhibition, seems to seep out of my brain. I guess it's a matter of routine, I haven't been out in the art-world much these last 10 years, and have a lot of catching up to do. Mostly I think it's important not to whoffle on, not to try to overspeak, use big words to elevate the work, which shouldn't need that. Trust the work and take it from there. I'm going to put that to the test tomorrow, will have a tutorial with a professional artist, 13 years after college. Try myself out.