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Rebekah Krieger

Artist Statement

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I am filling out applications for juried craft shows and am writing my first artists statement.  Could some of you share yours? I wrote mine and was hoping maybe one of two of you would privately give me feedback? Thanks 

 

(My husband is a writer, but not familiar with these statements. I do not write)

 

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I second the recommendation above.  Vince has a VERY good take on the process there.  KISS.

 

And if you need a little help sounding intellectual...........

 

http://www.pixmaven.com/phrase_generator.html    ;)

 

 

best,

 

....................john

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I second the recommendation above.  Vince has a VERY good take on the process there.  KISS.

 

And if you need a little help sounding intellectual...........

 

http://www.pixmaven.com/phrase_generator.html    ;)

 

 

best,

 

....................john

Thanks John!  That is hilarious!  I probably should throw a few of those generated phrases in my statement, It seems I might have kept it too simple.  

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I second the recommendation above.  Vince has a VERY good take on the process there.  KISS.

 

And if you need a little help sounding intellectual...........

 

http://www.pixmaven.com/phrase_generator.html    ;)

 

 

best,

 

....................john

Thanks John!  That is hilarious!  I probably should throw a few of those generated phrases in my statement, It seems I might have kept it too simple.  

 

 

Too funny! 

I agree with some of the things that have just been said, but the reductive quality of the facture brings within the realm of discourse the inherent overspecificity. (44444)

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Glad you liked that. We nail our students for that pretentious artspeak gobbledygook when they spew it forth.

 

best,

 

................john

Rightfully so.  There's a difference, between being able to express the concepts of your work and process intelligently, and sounding like a pretentious "tool".   I've encountered plenty of students and faculty, who behaved as such.

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Why does it seem every article warns away from using "artspeak" but then 80% of the statements I find are riddled with it? 

 

Sad but true. In Vince Pitelka's guidelines he provides a good explanation for this:

 

"Artspeak is very different from intelligent art writing, and involves the use of fashionable jargon that deliberately conceals and confuses truth and useful information, usually in an attempt to veil a lack of true substance and significance in the artwork. "

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involves the use of fashionable jargon that deliberately conceals and confuses truth and useful information, usually in an attempt to veil a lack of true substance and significance in the artwork. "

AKA, every paper, that I wrote in college.

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involves the use of fashionable jargon that deliberately conceals and confuses truth and useful information, usually in an attempt to veil a lack of true substance and significance in the artwork. "

AKA, every paper, that I wrote in college.

 

 

Haha whether that's true or not Benzine, I think most of the jargon-filled artist statements come from students, or those who are early in their careers. When an artist has worked long enough to feel comfortable about their work and their accomplishments, they can describe their work without needing to inflate it. So maybe the proliferation of jargon-filled statements is due to the small percentage of artists who make it that far.

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There has to be something between "I am inspired by nature" and the purposely obtuse verbal garbage that lets the viewer know the artist also learned how to use the thesaurus feature of Word.

The very best ones tell you quite simply what, who and why. Forget about the how.

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Here's what I think is an outstanding artist statement for a potter, by one of my favorite potters Robert Briscoe:

 

http://www.artist-listing.com/artist.aspx?username=rlbriscoe

 

 

I've been using my current statement for a few years, it's probably time for a refresh (i.e. some parts I want to make more specific), and I plan to use the above as a guide, in terms of tone and language.

 

 

Here is my current artist statement, for anyone who is interested:

 

"I am guided by my Korean heritage, Maryland upbringing, and design education. I care deeply about functional designs, always thinking about the balance and movement of my pots in action. My work has a minimal and rustic style, meant to appeal to those who appreciate the natural world, even if they live modern or urban lifestyles."

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There has to be something between "I am inspired by nature" and the purposely obtuse verbal garbage that lets the viewer know the artist also learned how to use the thesaurus feature of Word.

The very best ones tell you quite simply what, who and why. Forget about the how.

 

"Inspired by nature" is the opposite of jargon, and just as bad!! Not that it's wrong to be inspired by nature, but for crying out loud, find an original way to say it.

 

I think the best way to avoid the phrase "inspired by nature" is to be as specific as possible. I once read a statement that said "My glazes reflect the soft colors in the wheat fields that surround my home in Kansas," and I thought "how refreshing!"

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Many shows want only 100 words or at least many of my Zapp applications

here's my few versions-1st the 100 word one-

 

Artist’s Statement

 

My porcelain pottery is known for brightly colored glazes that I mix myself.  All pots are fired to cone 11 (2400°) in a reduction gas-fired atmosphere.  My specialty is the creation of durable, functional forms that are used in the home on a daily basis.

 



Description of Material and Technique

One of a kind functional high fired porcelain made on potter's wheel Bright glazes made from scratch

 

long version

 

Please explain to the jury in detail how you create your work - the process you use. We are looking for process, not philosophy. Please note there is no word limit. Please do not include your name. I start all pots with a weighed out ball of clay-All pottery is wheel thrown and gets trimmed the next day with feet on bottoms. Pots are first bisque fired to 1800 degrees then I glaze them with all hand made glazes made by me from scratch. Many are my own formula. I then load them back into the car kiln –also made by me and fire them in a reduction atmosphere to cone 11 which is 2400 degrees-my work is all porcelain clay which is harder to work with but yields extreme durability as well as showing super bright colors in the glazes. The glaze fire takes about 12 hours and cools for two days. This has taken over 35 years to master all the processes
 

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Most "artist statements" tend to differ from a core 'process focus' discussion.... althouhg some people use that content as a large part of their 'statements'.  Those "show application questions" are a bit of a different beast, even if the promoters sometimes call them "artist's statement".

 

Vince's information is one of the best guidelines I've seen for writing what is usually what is intended to be recieved by an educational institution, workshop presentation venue, place like NCECA, grant application body, or a true "gallery" type of gallery.

 

Like resumes, these documents typically get written / re-written a lot, and are targeted at a specific audience or a specific venue, or to go with a specific body of work.  And as the general nature of your work changes (if it does), then the statements change too. 

 

 

In my recent work, as an advocate of the Big Mac Aesthetic, I feel that the sublime beauty of the biomorphic forms endangers the devious simplicity of the eloquence of these pieces.  It's difficult to enter into this work because of how the disjunctive perturbation of the sexy fish endangers the devious simplicity of a participation in the critical dialogue of the 90s.   -91032-  -82931-

 

For good or bad, in the current climate, an artist striving for strong high-profile success pretty much should be prepared to be able to not only make darn good work, but also be able to write about it well, speak comfortably about it in a public venue, and also maybe be able to perform well in videos posted on Youtube ;) .

 

best,

 

..................john

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I think the part that I am struggling with is that at this point, I don't have an established aesthetic.  I don't want to "puff up" my work because at this point I am not spending much time on true artistic expression.  I am just working on perfecting my forms and tightening my throwing skills, experimenting with glazes etc. I am in the process of mastering the basics so I can freely express myself with the skills established. With that practice, I am making cereal bowls, mugs, and oil warmers. I guess I don't feel they are "great works of art that require understanding" yet.  I haven't worked in clay long enough to develop my aesthetic, and i don't want to sound like the tool who thinks it does.  

 

 

 

The only real "deep feature" I enjoy about my pots are that they are made by human hands.  I personally feel a deep connection with ancient cultures by doing the same thing all of them have done.. making my own vessels, using them, and adding a deeper meaning to the monotonous daily activities most modern humans disconnect with.. such as taking a drink from a cup or eating soup.  It's a feeling I am going for at this point because that is as far as I have gotten. I have 2 years of working with clay, which is nothing.  I feel almost like an idiot calling my work "art" because I have so much more I want to express with clay that  i haven't been able to do yet.  

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My stuff is not written for academia but for juried arts shows

I think you asked 

(I am filling out applications for juried craft shows )

Now as to a grad school apps. I would top load it with some artspeak tossed in just for good measure.

but for shows I keep it simple and direct

I think the simpler/direct the better

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The only real "deep feature" I enjoy about my pots are that they are made by human hands.  I personally feel a deep connection with ancient cultures by doing the same thing all of them have done.. making my own vessels, using them, and adding a deeper meaning to the monotonous daily activities most modern humans disconnect with.. such as taking a drink from a cup or eating soup.  

 

An artist statement serves a lot of functions, depending on who is writing it, at what point they are writing it, and for what purpose they are writing it. 

 

As a "student" of an art form, one potentially highly important part of the ACTOF WRITING such a piece is the fact that it forces you to start to formally think about what it is that you are doing.  Why are you subjecting yourself to the trials and tribulations of this crazy field of ceramics ;) .  Working with clay can be mesmerizing and intoxicating and can all too easily sort of lead you into a "drug" induced theraputic stupor if you let it do that.  Yeah... it's fun  ("I play with clay.") 

 

There is a somewhat famous saying in the ceramic art field that points to the importance of having focus and direction in your claywork:  "A pot without a soul is just clay around a hole".  I think that came out of Alfred in the 60's...can't tremember the source.  Could have been Val Cushing.

 

A sports analogy:  If you don't know where the goalposts in the game you are playing are, you'll never know if you get the ball through them. But YOU are the refreree in this whole game, and you get to set the rules of the game and the location and size of the goal.  It is perfectly OK to change the location of the goalposts as the game progresses, but you should always be trying to "score".  To do that, the game has to be defined as much as possible.

 

So in a sense .... there above in the part that I quoted from you is the very start of two things............

 

1.)  You identifying the beginnings of the roadmap of where you want to go with clay.  Where your goalposts are currently situated for your game.  You are starting to define concepts and issues that are important to you, and that you wish to bring to your visual art works.  Can you pin down the location of the goalposts a bit more by really delving into the "WHY" and "HOW" of your above statements?

 

2.)  Your early career artist's statement.

 

Take those couple of sentences above and turn them into paragraphs and then pages.  That is not for anyone else's consumption.... just yours.  YOU need more information and detail than others do in this personal matter of developing you work.  Then edit the crap out of that mess...... and try to distill it all down to the most important parts.  Then clean up the "technical writing" aspects........ pretty it up.  Once that is done, run it by others to see what they think for its use as an artist's statement. 

 

But keep working on that "personal journal" part for the rest of your artistic life....let it evolve and get edited and changed.  That will continue to lead you into the future of your work.

 

And also to your new versions of your public "artist's statement".

 

best,

 

...................john

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Respectfully, I would like to assert a clear distinction between "verbally obtuse garbage," "jargon," (whatever we're calling it) and skillful use of language. You'll take note that the Pitelka quote observes this rather well. Perhaps I am projecting (likely not), but I detect a disdain for "intelligent writing," ironically enough next to pleas for originality amongst a group participating in a rather archaic practice....

 

The proper approach to this discussion is refusal to participate. John's comment about circumstantial genesis in relation to the role of the artist statement is rather appropriate, and illustrates the fundamental differences in frame that we'll all bring to the discussion. To form a proper artist statement, one must understand his audience and write well. Albeit this forum represents clay people, we're all selling a different image; the craft-potter, the commercial artist, the hobbyist, the fine artist, the rock star, you name it...  If you participate in multiple circles, you best have multiple artist statements and most of all you best understand how your work is understood in hopes that the things you've written don't undermine the experience of your work.

 

Let's go full circle and refer to the OP. Rebekah's writing needs are for juried craft shows. I don't have much experience in regards to these, but I would assume that the various judges would have varying backgrounds. Might one assume that a judge in this circumstance has a knowledge of basic ceramic history, maybe understands cultural opinions towards materials and colors or would these references be lost?

 

In reference to Rebekah's statements regarding expression and pot-making, don't expect an artist statement to be a resounding truth meant to blow the pants off all who read it. And don't expect that out of your work either. The connection you describe to ancient cultures and that, through pot-making is interesting but dangerous territory. There are a lot of values that are misaligned between these cultural circumstances. I struggle with these issues often as a technician capable of reproducing other's marks and work. In the position of studio assistant, this is passable. If I were to reproduce well-known work in my own studio, I would be crucified in this culture. Forgery, appropriation, production, reproduction, I'm really not sure, but I do know that this is where "intelligent writing' comes into play.

 

Good luck....     

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Hi John,

 

I wish! Grad school is a rather expensive proposition, and I'm not quite at the place where I would benefit from it enough to justify the expense...

 

I'm a Providence local, but I recently completed my Alfred BFA and that's the origin of my academic opinions. I've also been fortune enough to work for some world class artists in the capacity of studio assistant, and it tortures me from time to time. As an up and comer, it's easy to challenge the top of the food chain on the basis of technical facility, but the reality is that valuation of work has nothing to do with "skill." It's beyond unfair to compare the capabilities of my 22 year old body to my mentor's as their years of work start to take toll. Times are also different in terms of what sells, how artists establish themselves, and how audiences consume the work today.

 

There are days I wish I completed my engineering degree with the prospect of a comfortable lifestyle, but I wouldn't give up object making and thinking about clay for anything...

 

It is interesting though, to note how different backgrounds and brandings (degrees/ties to academia), may drastically effect artist statements or even artist identities. I'd certainly be interested in discussing these institutions and what they provide to the individual and how the experience is perceived by others...

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For juried craft shows there is usually a very limited number of words that you can have in your statement.  I have a very short one I use when they are asking for less that 200 characters.  I keep it simple, I say something about the material, how is it made and briefly mention the forms.

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Brian- would you be ok with me reading your statement? You could message it to me if you like. 

 

I think something more along the lines of what Mark provided is probably what they are looking for.  I do want to create a more substantial statement for other venues as well.  

 

My comments about the connection is more of a "feeling" that I get when I connect with the process of making and using the pots.  I guess It's my way of deeply connecting with the whole process, and of course as John said, It is very intoxicating but I figured every potter has that feeling.  Sometimes after making a pot, I sit back in my chair and pant for a minute.. gather my thoughts before I can make another.  Maybe it's because we hold our breath when I pull up a wall, and we interpret the lack of oxygen as a "rush". hehe

The connection I feel is the same connection I want others to feel when they use my wares.  I don't try to physically emulate ancient work (except for my love of making long tall handles that come up from the lip of the cup).  So hopefully I won't get slammed with copyright infringements for sensations others hopefully feel. ;)  But If I can copyright a sensation, that would be amazeballs. (does that word count as "artsy jargon?' 

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