Sunday, September 26, 2010

Artists Statements and other Symbols

Here is a test: (*answer at the bottom of this post)
What does this Really mean? 

I recently had some requests for my "artists statement".
Oh nooooooo!!!!
"Please not my artists statement", I whine to myself...

But okay. It's okay because I have one...well,  I actually have several because they keep changing. I always cringe when someone requests it and I go back into it and change it up and save yet another version. Why?  Because it doesn't ring right for me every time I read it. So I re-write it. And then it works that day. My latest version is a straight forward explanation of my painting process. Nothing mysterious. And I don't sound clever...

I am not a very good writer. That's why I am a painter!  I want to beg the person requesting my artist statement to just look at my work.. THAT is the statement I wanted to make that day I painted a particular painting. Today it may be different.

 I used really simple names for my paintings, too - like:

Bass in Sunlight©DotCourson

But in my heart, I know what they want they want: They want an overriding theoretical reference point and framework that globally describes the philosophical principals that I use to communicate in my work and the 12 step program I metaphysically adhere to in brilliantly guiding my spiritual/social meditative mood swings in creating my work. Right?  And why is all that so important?

I say that in today's world- artists statements are obsolete... That's why God invented BLOGs! 

Besides, I think my work shows what I mean. Even this:
A Secret Life©Dot Courson
This was painted a few years ago, and it's the only thing I have painted with much mystery (or "secrecy" ) to it... but surely anyone can see that this painting of common articles found around my home enclosed in a box crate, with a red ribbon signifies my love for Andrew Wyeth... They also probably know that I painted it as I was so happy that I had just serendipitously met "Andy" (and Helga!) in Cushing, Maine after the tour of the Olson house! No? Well, let me just say, then, that I seriously doubt that my artist statement would shed any more light on this it either! 

I was reading Nicholas Simmons blog about artists statements and he made a lot of sense. Here is a segment of his blog:

I rarely read artist statements. They tend to subtract points from the work before I've even seen it, and in some cases allude to things that tell me I'm about to see some bad art. Without getting specific on that score, I've also heard this opinion from galleries and curators, etc. I don't recall ever reading an artist statement that measurably enhanced my enjoyment of the work, so I'm reluctant to compose one. Anyhow, I prefer the idea of art speaking for itself.

The process part is more interesting, especially if you happen to like the artist's work.

When I used to hear artists discuss their process(es), I always felt like a bit of a chump. They had this thing that sort of guided them and it seemed as though there was a discipline to it. I, on the other hand, had no such method or consistency. Eventually I decided that not having a process was my process, flying by the seat of my pants. Rather than fitting subject matter into a certain approach, style, or ethic, I simply would get an idea for a painting, imagine how I think it would look best to me, and then figure out how to do it -- or at least try to do it. This often means going back to square one with each new piece.
 - Nicholas Simmons blog.

I can relate. Maybe artists statements are for artists who paint things like dripping paper cups suspended above gophers who are smoking cigars are needing a creative way to tell folks that this is really all about raising  awareness of the plight of the endangered Tufted Titmouse!
 But this photographer's great photo says a lot. You can hear this little birds philosophy by going  HERE. and click on the "listen" button. 
Tufted Titmouse Source: wikipedia

Pontotoc Amish©Dot Courson
*Test answer: "Caution: Amish Buggies may be ahead!"


  1. Titmouse lovers unite!
    Yes, the Statement is an important document to many. Another funny thing is some of the work that is supposed to be revealed via the Statement, even when you could make up almost anything to conceivably fit. Or even not fit. Like a horoscope. I also wonder if abstract/expressionist/non-representational is the very thing that created the more arcane dialects of artspeak, often to explain or justify. To me, the desire and act of creating something is enough justification, I don't really require more.

  2. So true, Nick... Thank you for your comment! Tweet tweet. Dot