Calvin & Hobbes on artist statements. Cartoon by Bill Watterson, July 15, 1995
“Hey, that was a good artist statement!”
It’s a sentiment you don’t hear very often, and yet it’s what we found ourselves saying after reading the statements below. Artist statements don’t have to be a source of fear (for the writer) and boredom (for the reader)! See a few examples of strong artist statements below, and below that, a discussion of what makes them good.
Andy Yoder, sculptor: “Many people take great comfort in the bathroom towels being the same color as the soap, toilet paper, and tiles. It means there is a connection between them, and an environment of order. Home is a place not only of comfort, but of control. This sense of order, in whatever form it takes, acts as a shield against the unpredictability and lurking chaos of the outside world.
My work is an examination of the different forms this shield takes, and the thinking that lies behind it. I use domestic objects as the common denominators of our personal environment. Altering them is a way of questioning the attitudes, fears and unwritten rules which have formed that environment and our behavior within it.”
Nancy McIntyre, silk screen artist: “I like it when a place has been around long enough that there is a kind of tension between the way it was originally designed to look and the way it looks now, as well as a tension between the way it looks to whoever is caring for it and the way it looks to me. Trouble is, the kinds of places I find most appealing keep getting closed or torn down.
What do I want to say with my art?
Celebrate the human, the marks people make on the world. Treasure the local, the small-scale, the eccentric, the ordinary: whatever is made out of caring. Respect what people have built for themselves. Find the beauty in some battered old porch or cluttered, human-scale storefront, while it still stands.”
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Dawn Benedetto, jeweler: “Poppi is my fun and clever alter ego. It’s a line of jewelry that doesn’t take life too seriously. The glass and sterling rings are my invention and are unique in that they stretch to fit most everyone. Poppi adds a splash of color to jeans or an extra spark to ignite a little black dress; heck, it’ll even brighten up a trip to the grocery store.
If nothing else, it’s a statement. Poppi laughs. Poppi flirts. Poppi screams. Poppi says it all without you saying a thing.”
Diana Chamberlain, ceramicist: “I work in porcelain for its suppleness, delicacy and strength. Porcelain’s willingness to be transformed, both in form and texture, makes it a perfect medium for exploring the iconic meaning of dress and the concept of shelter.”
Margaret Cerutti, painter: “Capturing the light is everything! As a plein air painter, it is always the light that I remember most about any location. It is my inspiration.
Its elusive quality can transform a figure or a landscape in just a matter of seconds. I strive to convey that sense of place by capturing its fleeting magic.”
Alison Sigethy, glass artist: “Getting outside is good for the soul. Through my artwork, I try to bring the outside in. While I make no attempt to portray actual plants or animals, I do want my creations to look like they could have lived or grown somewhere. Living with beautiful objects that pay tribute to the natural world reminds us to slow down and helps us reconnect with nature.”
Charlene Fuhrman-Schulz, sumi-é artist: “My subject matter is nature, whether it is a traditional landscape or a bird and flower painting. I use traditional materials, ink and brush on rice paper, to capture movement and life — making the brush dance and the ink sing. Everything is captured in the spontaneous dance and movement of the brush as it meets the rice paper. There is no going back and correcting when painting with ink and rice paper.”
Pete McCutchen, photographer: “I decontextualize. Then, I reconstruct.
Looking past the obvious, close observation and engagement of the subject is my process. The challenge is to see beyond the distraction of the conspicuous to capture its unique self. Some of my subjects are quite beautiful, others less so. My goal is to inspire those who see my work to look more carefully at the world around them, to discover beauty in unusual places.”
So what makes these artist statements work?
What these artist statements do
- keep it short
- grab the reader’s interest with the first sentence
- introduce the author’s personality and enthusiasm
- give a hint about the why of the artwork
- use the first person (I, me, mine — this is not a strict rule, but it does seem to help the author write a more straightforward, readable statement)
What these artist statements don’t do
- summarize the resume found elsewhere on the website
- give a physical description of artwork photographed elsewhere on the website
- sound generic
- use “art speak”
Some questions to think about when writing your statement
- What keeps you coming back to the studio, day after day?
- What’s the best way someone has responded to your artwork (comment in a guest book, at an exhibit, etc.)
- What questions are you asked most frequently about your work?
- What’s your artist story? (as opposed to your biography and CV)
- Who is your art for?
Telling your story, and your artwork’s story, increases its value. Here are some other blog posts you might be interested in:
During the Portfolio Redefined event last week, we heard from a lot of teachers that information on writing for college admissions and examples of admissions essays would be helpful. Here are some tips, requirement examples, guidelines for getting started, and essay examples.
Any feedback, comments and requests are welcome!
|WRITING FOR YOUR PORTFOLIOGreat advice from Carolina Wheat, Director of Admissions for Parsons|
1. Represent yourself through text
2. Use words you are comfortable using
3. Discuss your process
4. Please do not begin the essay “I always knew I wanted to be an artist”
|ARTIST STATEMENT REQUIREMENT EXAMPLES|
What do you make, how do you make it, and why do you make? Ultimately, where do you visualize your creative abilities and academic study to take you after your education here at Parsons? (Maximum 500 words.)
In 500 words or less, discuss your reasons for pursuing undergraduate study in the visual arts. Feel free to include any information about yourself, as well as your goals and interests that may not be immediately apparent from the review of your transcripts or portfolio.
Describe when and how you became interested in art, design, writing, architecture, or the particular major to which you are applying. Describe how this interest has manifested itself in your daily life.
What makes you a perfect candidate for FIT? Why are you interested in the major you are applying to? The essay is also your chance to tell us more about your experiences, activities and accomplishments.
|Questions to Get you Started|
Begin the process of writing your essay for college admissions by answering these questions for yourself in your sketchbook.
Tell the truth & the more you write for each question the better.
– Why you do like to make art?
– What materials, themes and CONCEPTS do you use? Why?
– What do you see in your work / What do other people see? (ask friends and family)
– What inspires you?
– What are your goals and aspirations as an artist?
– What schools are you interested in and why?
– What does your work actually look like? Describe one work as an example!
– What do you want to do in the future?
When you’ve answered these questions try to organized them into an outline, or 3 separate paragraphs. Once you’ve organized start to use your answers to make structured sentences. Answering the questions is an exercise to get you writing about your art. Your final essay does not have to include any of your answers verbatim, or it can.
Make sure that someone else looks over your essay. It is easy to miss mistakes when it’s your own writing. And feedback on how you can improve is always great.
|ARTIST STATEMENT EXAMPLES by accepted students|
ARTIST STATEMENT EXAMPLE for Parsons by Tiffany
To be able to excavate the bones of ideas that link humanity in one common whole – it is a beautiful, life-long driven process.
I am keen to my surroundings, expecting beauty in the most trivial aspects of daily life. As people head toward their offices, open the bus terminal doors for the people behind them, and dart across the street as the sign signals an alarming red- it is a gift to be able to observe certain gestures expressed by strangers and acquaintances. I will often take the opportunity to absorb the details of the lives of those other than myself. I search there for new inspiration – it is a search to synchronize the heart rhythms of strangers through my artwork.
With the start of an art piece, I begin by wondering how to capture my life and thoughts in a way that creates a private bond with each onlooker. The ultimate purpose of my artwork is for the viewer to reflect upon their lives and remember emotions they have experienced. Through the work it becomes possible to comprehend the similarities we share as human beings.
One aspect of my work that is effective in evoking a sense of commonality is childhood nostalgia. My unique childhood has formed my character as I was intimately exposed to different cultures – South Korea, China, and the United States. As I resided for several years in each of the three countries, I accumulated knowledge through learning the diverse languages, colors, food, clothing, and mannerisms of these countries. Seeing the differences opened my eyes and altered the approaches I take toward exploring the unfamiliar.
I have developed ideas for a few of my favorite art pieces from my most valued childhood memories, with the hopes to share these fortunate experiences – the time I tied a rope around my pet baby chick’s leg and explored the playground, and the exciting elevator ride with my brother with stacks of soda in our hands. Handcrafted with sculpey and painted with acrylic paint, the sculptures of those memories evoke a sense of nostalgia and excitement with their vibrant colors.
The seemingly simple vibrancy of my work is balanced with structural stability. One example is the sculptural piece titled “Thinking Outside of the Box” which is intended to be ironic because the brain-shaped structure is built with wired boxes. I placed a light bulb in the center encasing it in a mirror-walled box to depict the flash of a new idea as its light fails to pass beyond it’s walls. This piece portrays the human mind as it fails to improve on an idea because of other shortsighted and entrapping thoughts. Such fallacy is a human characteristic that is universally shared.
My search for similarities among humanity has become increasingly simple as my empathy and compassion has grown. As I learn an individual’s story, I aspire to serve as a medium, expressing certain qualities with my creative work. Each person reflects back to me humanity’s common ground.
ARTIST STATEMENT EXAMPLE for SVA by Eleanor
Many people have told me that I have a restless personality, which I believe to be true. I constantly seek experiences that will make me feel alive. Maybe this why I do the things that I do. I love hiking and traveling, especially to places that seem untouched by man. Most of my inspiration comes from that moment when I absorb the spectrum of beauty in front of me through my eyes. I process the thoughts that subsequently run through my head, and when it is released through every pore of my body, I recreate the feelings through my art.
Even asleep, my thoughts are seeking and restless in the sense that when I have fallen into a deep slumber, and I am no longer physically mobile, my thoughts turn to dreams. When I am asleep my dreams are either rather disturbing or mysterious and serene. It seems that most people forget their dreams when they awake, but I remember my vivid dreams clearly, as if they were memories from waking life. I am not afraid to show, through my illustrations, what my dreams reveal to me; what I desire, what offends me and scares me. By using my dreams as inspiration I feel unlimited in expressing myself.
I never questioned that I would pursue a future in the field of Illustration because when I am drawing and painting I feel the most comfort. Whether I am reading a book, hiking, taking a picture, or even listening to music, it always leads me into the depths of my mind, and I know that the thoughts will eventually translate into an illustration. I have discovered that art has no boundaries, and that there is no better means to capture the imagery that I create in my head.
Although my ideas come to me most often when I am by myself, I am a very social person, and I am inspired by other creative people. I need to be constantly surrounded by individuals who will fuel this. There is no better way to ensure that I will be, than to attend an art school full of diverse yet creative students.
The School of Visual Arts is a school that has many qualities that suit me. The faculty at SVA is impressive, and the effort that SVA makes to look for artistic minds, by visiting places such as Ashcan Studio, really caught my attention. I am also impressed by SVA student work. During a SVA admissions counselor’s presentation, I was able to see examples of projects by SVA students and they were all inspiring. Some of the works held me in a trance. I was in awe and often had the chills on my skin when looking at some of the work. If the students at SVA are making such outstanding work, then I know that the school has a lot to offer me.
ARTIST STATEMENT EXAMPLE by Helena
I feel that have two identities. Outside of my home I live under the name Helena Juhee Kim, while at home I am my parents’ rebellious teenage daughter, Juhee Kim. Throughout my life I have struggled to define my identity. I have had difficulty figuring myself out, who I represent in this society. However, since my entrance in to high school I have realized that my whole life revolves around art. It has taken me back to the very beginning of my life. I recall that it was art that made me feel happy and complete as a child. It was what I loved.
I believe that all artwork has a purpose. It tells a story. When you see an artwork it is as if it’s trying to whisper the artists story to you. Art does not have to be a visual image. To me, art can be a story. I often come up with new creative ideas through telling stories with words. Words are a very powerful tool to express messages and fantasies. For me, however, words are not enough—if there is a story then there must be an image to portray its meanings. I want visually illustrate it. Images can be mysterious in ways that words are not. Art reveals the artist, the type of person he or she is—not only with the way an artist uses color, their line making and style, but also through the core concept the artist focuses on. It interests me that a certain topic or story can be so essential to a person that they had to make it into art.
My junior year in high school year I made the decision to pursue illustration as a career. Attending Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School in New York definitely played a role in finding my interest among the many majors of art. As a junior I decided to take the classes Illustration and Mural. It was my toughest year, as I had personal issues in addition to academic stresses. Art helped me get through these hardships. It pulled me out from my distress. Moreover, it made me love and understand ‘art’ better. In the end, it was art that helped me grow as a person. It was then I understood what it truly meant to be an artist.
Through my many struggle in life, art is what saves me. In the end it all comes down to what I truly want to pursue in life—in the future, what I see myself doing and love being involved in. Art makes me realize that there is a purpose for everyone. And I believe that by going to an art college my love of art will flourish even more, as I get closer to my dream and start anew to become even a better artist.
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