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Explaining the Unexplainable: Artist Statements

An introduction to writing artist statements. Intended for a 7-12 grade audience.
by

Emily Howard

on 31 October 2012

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Transcript of Explaining the Unexplainable: Artist Statements

Explaining the Unexplainable: Writing an Artist Statement What is an artist statement? Why do artists need/use artist statements? A Real-life Artist Statement Professionally, artists use their statements... on blogs and websites
to hang at exhibitions or shows
on exhibition proposals
in exhibition catalogs
on entry forms for art competitions
when approaching an art gallery
for press releases (newspapers, magazines, etc.) “Beauty and all the arguments for what it is and isn’t will always be debated. My contribution to this dialogue is this series of paintings ‘Black As Pitch, Hot As Hell.’ I hoped to create a dialogue addressing the politics of body image, beauty standards and sexuality.”

“Each figure is painted on a 4” square sheet of plywood panel. I carved the grain away, creating a tension between the flatly painted figure and the low-relief surface. The square format references a box. Compositionally, I derived the paintings’ poses from the illustrations of pin-up artists from the 50s. I then altered each figure, making thighs and backsides fuller, changing their outfits, hairdos, made their lips fuller, noses broader and made their skin black. Each woman has been made to conform to the box she exists in. Although none of them are standing upright, they effortlessly contort and occupy the space. They all have expressions of ease, seduction and playfulness. They are as comfortable in their compartment as they are in their own skin. These images don’t offer up solutions, but asks questions: Is this imagery empowering or degrading to women? Is this a feminist statement? Are they sexy or pornographic? Can they be seen as beautiful? What is beauty?” Artist: Wanda Ewing What do you notice about this artist statement? Ewing describes her process - the HOW of her work
she doesn't tell us what to think, but what she wants us to be thinking ABOUT
she clearly states the themes she is working with
she places her work in a historical context - how her images are inspired by 1950s pinups
she tells us how she hopes to add to the "conversation" - by starting one! but basically... artists use the writing of statements to help clarify and analyze their art for themselves as well as their viewers. art is language! an artist statement is a (usually) short piece of writing by an artist meant to explain or give additional meaning to his or her artwork. definition Language is an important part of our everyday lives. As artists, we try to express ourselves VISUALLY rather than VERBALLY, but sometimes words are necessary to help explain what we're really trying to say through our art. This is where the artist statement comes in. As You Write... some helpful tips & questions to consider: What SYMBOLS, if any, are present in your work and what made you include them?
What is the MESSAGE you are trying to send to your viewers?
What emotions are you trying to express?
What sort of story are you trying to tell with your work?
How does your work reflect your identity as an artist?
Describe the reasoning behind your artistic choices.
DO NOT simply describe your art – we have eyes, and we can see it ourselves. Instead, try to reveal what is UNSEEN: the meaning.
Be sure to use full sentences, with correct grammar and punctuation. Now get to it!
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