I find that one of the biggest challenges I face as an artist is writing my artist’s statement. Putting your vision and artistic ideas into words is a nearly impossible task. I mean, one of the reasons I became an artist was to try to express ideas that I found difficult to express! So then having to translate that art back into words can be a thankless task.
The other problem I have with writing my statement is that I have a lot of experience writing marketing copy. You might think this would help, but believe me it doesn’t. When I write, I easily drift into “ad speak”, wielding metaphors and witticisms as if they were blunt machetes on a jungle path. (Drat, there I go again!) Keeping my language simple, true, and focused has proven to be a big challenge.
All this means I am rarely happy with my statement. It often feels wrong, or too marketingy, or worse, too artsy-fartsy. So I end up rewriting my statment again and again, trying to figure out the right ideas and words that can express what my art is all about. The positive side effect of all this is that I believe it helps me become more aware of my art, and gain a deeper understanding of what it is I am doing. Instead of just making art as a reflexive/instinctive activity, I am becoming more mindful of what my art is all about.
I just rewrote my statement this morning, and am actually, finally, starting to become a little bit satisfied with it. I think, after all these years, I am finally beginning to figure out how to describe what it is that I do. (And why I seem to have this obsession with dried leaves and twigs!) So let me present to you my latest attempt. Actually, let me show you my previous statement, followed my newer one. I’d love to hear from you what you think of these, and how the connect to my actual art.
Old Statement: I create abstract photographs from what I call the ‘artifacts of nature’ — flowers, leaves, sticks, bark, and seeds. I’m drawn to the obscure beauty that can be found within these broken and decayed pieces of nature that are normally just trod underfoot. In the beauty of their organic decay, I discover scenes that feel strange, mysterious, and yet vaguely familiar. As your mind tries to resolve these abstractions into something familiar, they reveal unexpected stories and characters
New Statement: My art is about re-igniting our awareness and appreciation of the natural world that we live in every day. The closest relationship most of us have with nature is through our backyards, gardens and neighborhood parks. We experience nature as a comfortable, safe, and above all, controlled environment. But this familiarity clouds our awareness of the wildness that actually surrounds us. What appears as a domesticated landscape is actually an uneasy truce with a thriving and chaotic ecosystem. My photographs examine the familiar icons of our backyards and gardens — the fallen leaves, broken twigs and flowers — and reacquaints us with their wild and unpredictable natures.