Thursday, January 19, 2012

Artist Statement (Or, Reading the Visual)

In July, I completely rewrote my artist statement, partly in preparation for applying to graduate school and partly because sitting down and thinking about why I make what I do feels vital to continuing and growing within my chosen art form.

Of all the definitions of what an artist statement is or what it does, this description gave me pause: Your artist's statement can be a moving testament to your creativity and integrity. The expression of this commitment will vary, but the effectiveness of your artist's statement stems from the authority with which you write it. I was taken aback, mostly because I've never thought of myself as an authority on anything, especially not art making. In my mind, I simply did what I did, from a very specific point of view. I didn't realize it at the time, but in doing that, I had authority. With art, I have the power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior. All I needed to do is find it and broadcast it to the world.

But first, I had to find the words with which I could communicate that authority, that power. More importantly, I needed to believe that I had it and show it in my work as well as in the ways I write and speak of that work.

After lots of writing, using the questions on the above-linked site as a guide, I feel this statement is my way of beginning to claim that power, that authority:

My artistic practice stems from my history of trauma, of being cast aside, of not knowing, of being made to feel unsafe, unwanted, and without value because of gender, race, culture and sexual identity. I examine and deconstruct the relationships between feeling a sense of "otherness" and developing a perception of self that seeks connections and strives to find beauty in contrasts as well as the links between urban life, identity, memory, nature, personal mythology, and magical-spiritual belief. In trying to find my voice, I endeavor, as Frida Kahlo said, to “paint my own reality”. The female form is incorporated into many of my works, even as I question the idea of femininity. It is the body into which I was born; I use it as symbol, as metaphor, as a vessel that holds hundreds of thousands of years of stories in its ample bosom and the curves of waists, hips, thighs, and stomachs. My works are about changing identities, giving birth over and over again to new and varied definitions of self as we go through the changes of life. Urban imagery often overlaps that of the natural world, as do the ideas of privilege and disadvantage, hope and despair, roughness and healing.I use a variety of media. Each process--painting, printmaking, collage, and mixed media-- transforms both my materials and the way I think about them into something new and different, as we are changed when we share ourselves and our stories with others. Story is how I was first taught history; my art is deeply rooted in both.


  1. I love this. Beautifully written and makes me pause to think how I would encapsulate my artistic vision, granted from a writer's perspective. I like that idea of being an "authority", because we are all authorities on our vision and how we implement it. Noone else can dictate how WE see & experience the world. Or render it into another medium.