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#21 Colby Charpentier

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 03:46 PM

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....     



#22 JBaymore

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 03:51 PM

Colby,

 

Well said.

 

I'm assuming you are likely a grad student at RISD?

 

best,

 

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


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#23 Colby Charpentier

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 05:32 PM

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...



#24 Brian Reed

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 05:33 PM

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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#25 Rebekah Krieger

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 08:49 PM

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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#26 Chris Campbell

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 09:50 PM

"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...."


I have absolutely no problem with skillful use of language or intelligent writing. Being a writer myself, I appreciate those who can distil their thoughts into a well written piece. I love a statement that informs rather than tries to impress ... A statement that let's me into your world for a few moments.

But, I also recognize obtuse verbal jargon when I read it.

A well written set of statements is very hard work that is never quite finished. The temptation to hide behind trusty phrases and vague illusions is hard to resist for all of us ... I include myself here too. I read some statements and am totally in awe of how wonderfully well they are done. It's difficult to get out of your own way and write.

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#27 Babs

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 10:57 PM

Guy Don Watson writer from Aus labels jargon type speak "Weasel Words" and wrote a book documenting some of them.

Intelligent writing is writing that is understood by the prospective reader

We've prob all sat through talks by a speaker where we either think we've come to the wrong place or wish we were someplace else because of the heavily laden laborious esoteric speak.

Intelligent writing is simple to grasp. but I do not make the mistake of assuming that it is simple to write.

Write to your reader.

Recognise yourself or your art work on reading it after a period of time. Cringe factor should not occur!



#28 ChenowethArts

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 06:19 AM

I've read through this thread a couple of times now and must say that the advice coming from the experienced artists here is well worth the time to apply in personal reflection.

My two cents worth: Years ago, a beloved mentor encouraged me to write a Personal Mission Statement. It is less than 1/4th of a typewritten page long in an easy to read, bulleted format.  Each bullet point begins with a purposeful  action verb. My last revision hangs prominently in my studio as a daily reminder to be focused/intentional.  I have written a handful of Artist Statements since re-entering the art world. All of those Artist Statements benefit from a harsh dose of editing (I can be verbose..go figure). Ultimately I conclude my writing-agony with an exercise of reading the Artist Statement out loud and then comparing it to my Personal Mission Statement. When the two documents are in sync, I feel that I can share the Artist Statement as an honest description of who I am, what I do, and why the work is worth someone's consideration.  The Artist Statement gets worked over frequently, but the Mission Statement provides an anchor so that each artist statement is still recognizable as coming from the same person.


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#29 Denice

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 08:41 AM

Writing to the reader is very important, my husband who is a technical writer has educated me on clean concise writing.  He has books on planes, trains and buses all written to customers reading level.  For the last 30 years he has worked for an amusement ride company, a lot of those books go to workers that have a eight grade reading level.  The books have to be able to stand up in court that the workers understood and had all of the technical info they needed to run the ride safely.  Denice



#30 GEP

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 09:49 AM

Rebekah,

 

Here are my various versions of my statement, for show applications that restrict the length:

 

50 characters or less (this one also works for 5 words or less)

Functional pottery, modern Asian rustic.

 

100 characters or less

Functional, food-safe pottery, mostly wheel-thrown, fired to 2200°F, modern Asian rustic.

 

20 words or less

Functional, food-safe pottery, mostly wheel-thrown, fired to 2200°F. Modern Asian rustic, with Korean and Maryland roots.


Mea Rhee
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#31 Chilly

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 06:42 PM

I used to write IT courseware and quick reference guides.  I had a strip of paper stuck above my monitor with this reminder:

 

"Don't use a big word when a diminutive expression will do". 

 

Very tongue-in-cheek, but it served me well.  If you're writing a novel, you can show off your extensive vocabulary, if you're writing to inform, use as few words as possible, and make every word count.

 

A reader sitting in the comfort of their home/on the train/on the beach will read all the words in a gripping novel, and will relish every one of them.  A reader sitting at a desk wants to read the document in front of them in the shortest possible time, understand every word/sentence/paragraph, and then move quickly onto the next document. 

 

Finally, proof, proof and proof.  (And get three other people to proof it too).  Nothing worse than a missing word or the wrong word.

 

Keep it simple.


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#32 Celia UK

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 04:06 AM

This probably won't go down well with many people, but if the adjudicators (or just one of them) are like me and find poor spelling, grammar and punctuation infuriating, then it's got to be worth getting these spot on.
Those that crop up fairly regularly, on this forum for example, include:
incorrect use of practice and practise (there is the possibility that this is an Americanism from the English where 'c' is the noun and 's' is the verb form. Think 'advice' and 'advise' if you struggle to figure this out!
using effect when it should be affect - another noun/verb confusion - 'effect' is the noun and 'affect' is the verb
it's when its is required and
misplaced possessive apostrophes (".....my mentor's as their years...." Which should be ".....my mentors' as their years....")
and please....there is no such word as 'gotten'.

Does anyone have any more that drive them crazy?

I know you could argue that as long as the reader understands what it meant it doesn't matter, but if it's the difference between selection and non-selection, then it has to be worth it.

DON'T TRUST SPELLCHECK! IT IS NOT RELIABLE IN ALL RESPECTS!

#33 neilestrick

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 10:15 AM

Rebekah,

 

Here are my various versions of my statement, for show applications that restrict the length:

 

50 characters or less (this one also works for 5 words or less)

Functional pottery, modern Asian rustic.

 

100 characters or less

Functional, food-safe pottery, mostly wheel-thrown, fired to 2200°F, modern Asian rustic.

 

20 words or less

Functional, food-safe pottery, mostly wheel-thrown, fired to 2200°F. Modern Asian rustic, with Korean and Maryland roots.

 

Mine are a lot like this, too. Seems most of the shows want 100 characters or less, so there's really not a lot you can do. Don't think of it as an artists statement in these cases. It's simply a short description of your work and process.


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#34 JBaymore

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 10:22 AM

 

Don't think of it as an artists statement in these cases. It's simply a short description of your work and process.

 

 

That is my take on this also. This comes back to the "have different versions" and "write for your audience" business.

 

best,

 

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


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#35 GEP

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 10:22 AM

Celia,

 

First of all, I will state that I am a person who values spelling and grammar a lot. I do a lot of writing for my pottery business, therefore my habits are to double check all of those things, even look up words in the dictionary when needed.

 

We moderators will sometimes correct a typo in the TITLE of a thread, but typos and grammar mistakes within the bodies of posts are yours to own. It's really not that important to me. Nor does slang bother me on the forum. As you queried above, "as long as the reader understands what it meant it doesn't matter." We are not on job interviews here, we are having (hopefully) a comfortable conversation.

 

Also, lots of people are typing on a mobile device, typos are pretty hard to avoid on a tiny keyboard!

 

In the US we use one word "practice" for both the noun and verb.

 

Now back to the original topic of Artist Statements ... absolutely these must be free of spelling and grammar mistakes!


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#36 Benzine

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 10:50 AM

Sadly, I think the spelling and grammar errors will only get worse. Society is so accustomed to spell and grammar checks, doing the job, that we have seemingly forgotten how. On top of that "text talk"/ "Twitter Speak" have made it so many are content with being "close enough".
"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#37 JBaymore

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 11:28 AM

Sadly, I think the spelling and grammar errors will only get worse. Society is so accustomed to spell and grammar checks, doing the job, that we have seemingly forgotten how. On top of that "text talk"/ "Twitter Speak" have made it so many are content with being "close enough".

 

R U talk-n 2 me? ;)

 

In any professional setting (like a resume', artist's statement, biography, and the like), spelling, grammar, and punctuation and such are pretty darn important.  And there are also cross-cultural language issues to deal with when you deal with any international audience.

 

As mentioned........ the forum setting here is not intended to be "formal".......... we're just hangin' out, having a couple of beers in the pub.... and chattin'.

 

best,

 

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


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#38 Celia UK

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 11:47 AM

Just to clarify - I wasn't really commenting on spelling, grammar etc. on the forum, simply referring to it as an example of where these mistakes commonly occur. GEP I totally take your point about 'typing' on mobile devices - whoever has fingers that small anyway?

So my suspicion about practice was correct. As a former head teacher in the UK, proof reading hundreds of my teachers' reports to parents, this was one that I had to pick up on. Many of my staff confused the two, which doesn't go down well with parents. (Well, those that know the difference that is!)

Also, I have to add one more thing before someone else picks me up on it - I do know that 'effect' can be both a verb and a noun, whereas 'affect' is a verb. The common error being to use 'affect' as a noun, when 'effect' is the intention.

And as for text speak - well that's a whole new language!!!

Context is definitely the key here.

#39 phill

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 03:57 PM

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.  

Whether you were trying or not here, this sounds like a good start. Obviously some things would need to be pulled from this info here, like "I have 2 years working with clay, which is nothing." But I think you could work with what you wrote in this post. 

 

I used another one of my interests in life and assimilated the two to get my current statement. It isn't the typical artist statement, but I like it--probably because it isn't typical. Also, I had fun with it. I was tired of reading other potters' statements about making functional pots because they enjoy it or because function interests them. That's what every functional potter feels or thinks. Is there something else that gives you joy with making? 

 

Phillip Schmidt

Statement of Work

 

I am interested in food. My need to create is met daily through cooking, kneading, mixing and baking things that are pleasurable to me. The only impediments I seem to have are time and availability of ingredients, both of which have led to major dinner flops and delicious culinary treats. The joys of cooking to me are many-fold: no hindering consequences for curiosity, a limitless combination of ingredients, the suspense of the making and the thrill of the tasting, and generally a willing and happy audience to enjoy the fruits of my labor with.

The making of functional pots and clay objects is parallel to cooking in many regards; perhaps consider them cousins or even siblings! The joy I get from throwing a wonderful cup or baking a decadent apple pie are one in the same. And I find the most satisfying exchange is with those whom I get to share these life-giving fruits. This sharing, the best I can give another person, is the reason I make pottery. Without others enjoying my work, there is small need for and little enjoyment in making pots.  

I tend to make bowls and cups with a smattering of other functional pots thrown in. These are bisque-fired, glazed, and then high-fired to a cone 10-11 in a reduced atmosphere. I try to keep my pots, decorations, and glaze recipes simple and have a heck of a time doing it. Like my cooking, I make the things that I find most pleasurable with the hopes that others too will be enriched. My clay heroes are Warren Mackenzie, Guillermo Cuellar, Steve Rolf, Kirk Freeman, and Joe Singewald.






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