Like making art, there are no steadfast rules to writing artist statements - and even the best of us fail sometimes - but there are of course some decent guidelines one might consider following....
Art work descriptions and statements should be about 300 - 500 words, and strictly address the following:
- What "is" the work? Describe it as an object, installation or situation in a way that enables visual and/or sensual comprehension. This is not what the piece is “about.” I mean it literally / physically: what are your art piece’s individual components and materials, and how do they work together as a whole?
- What do we see or experience? If it's an installation, consider a walk-through, a description of how it looks, sounds, smells, feels (again, not emotionally or conceptually, but physically), and what actions viewers have taken in and around it. If it's a situation, describe the relationships (and power structures) you are intervening in and how participants might perform them. Many works would likely need to address both what we experience and what we do as an audience or participants in front of it / around it / with it. How do viewers relate to the work, to the artist, to each other...?
- What's at stake? Why is this important to you? Why should it be important to me / others? You can briefly address or allude to conceptual issues here, but be specific rather than general. How does the piece itself address these concerns? How do we encounter them in our experience of it, and what value lies in that encounter?
7 guidelines to follow:
- This is not a mystery novel. Start with a one-sentence description that encompasses all of the above to some extent – especially what it is – then unpack each of the listed items as is needed.
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