The exercise of writing an art statement for my upcoming art exhibit “Figures Of Speech” has me reaching for essays by Wendell Berry and thinking of the ways poetry can evoke many thoughts and feelings in a few lines.
My upcoming art exhibit is titled Figures Of Speech and the title is itself a description of what my exhibit is about. I know exactly what inspired all of the individual artworks too but writing brief, succinct words about an entire visual art exhibit, a non-verbal artifact of my living and being over this last year, is quite a challenge. In trying to do it I’m reminded of the koan “what is the sound of one hand clapping”. 🤣 Anyway, I need to write something clear and accessible that puts all 22 of my paintings into a context for a public that probably hasn’t gone to art school and perhaps isn’t primarily there for the art. My exhibit will be held in a winery so my statement needs to be short enough to be read quickly while the wine is poured and friends are arriving. So thinking about an art statement like a brief poem – a haiku even – helps me to write it.
As I begin to write an art statement I pay attention to page 179 in Standing By Words … “One of the uses of poetry is to reveal and articulate and preserve the necessary connections between the domestic and the wild”. So I focus on the connection between what inspired me, what the exhibit topic is, why I did it…and my audience.
Here’s what I wrote:
Of course I didn’t write my statement in any poetry format I just used the idea of poetry as a way of keeping my statement simple and close to the direct connections between the things I want to share and who I’m sharing with. Hopefully someone reading my statement will become curious about my art. Or hopefully someone looking at my art will seek further insight and will find it in my statement.
Fortunately, because this is a home game so to speak, I don’t need to add much within the statement itself about who I am. I’ve been doing these exhibits at the winery annually for more than 10 years now. I’m a known suspect 🤣 so my name, my website and the Caplan Art Designs Gallery website suffice.
Over on my email newsletter as well as here on this blog I can tell a bit more about the artwork and my thinking because people are primarily reading instead of, as they are in the busy boisterous winery, focusing on meeting friends, drinking wine and eating dinner. I fully intend my art to be a pleasant backdrop for all of that! This is one of the things art is for!! If someone views my art at the winery and has more questions beyond what my art statement says – there will also be a tag with my website, my email newsletter and the Caplan Art Designs Gallery contact information. Plus each painting will have a wall lable with the painting title, media and price.
Here’s one of the first newsletters showing my sketchbook page, the finished artwork along with more descriptions of my thought process from me. I’m planning to share more of these kind of newsletters between now and when the exhibit opens June 2nd… so that there’s both something for the physical exhibit goers to find online if they want more info and a way to share my exhibit with friends wherever they are in the world. I’ve taken it as a personal challenge to create art exhibits for a specific physical location *and* as a multimedia exhibit that extends beyond that one place.
BTW: Here’s what one of my work tables looks like while I’m framing one of my artworks.
Hello, art studio supervisor dachshund interrupting here with an important message – I’ve been monitoring the progress Sue Clancy has made at filling these boxes with framed fine art for the upcoming art exhibit in June/July at the winery www.burntbridgecellars.com – and things are going so well that I’m gonna take the artist outside for a short walk now. Like right now okay? Thank you.
She’ll see you next Monday. Dachshund done and we gotta go!
15 thoughts on “Figures Of Speech and writing artist statements”
Writing about your art as a mean to get people to engage with it must be a challenge. However, I think of you as very skillful at articulating your creative processes, both in terms of thought and in producing the art. I am sure you do a great job of it every time. Best of luck with the exhibition!
Thank you a thousand times for your comment!! I appreciate it more than I can possibly say!!!! ❤❤❤
I really like your artist’s statement. If you were in my writing class, I’d give it an A for the holy trinity of effective writing: purpose, audience, context. Some artist’s statements seem to have little connection with the artwork I’m looking at, with language so abstract, I can’t parse it for meaning.
Oh wow!!!! Thank you!!! You know now I’m going to bounce around exaulting “I got an A from Liz!!!” for a while!!! Thank you SO MUCH!!!
You’re welcome, Sue! And it was even an A-!!!
Awww thank you!!! 🤗😘
I love the title of your exhibit!!! and your statement sounds to the point and as if it covers everything! I hate writing stuff like that BTW.
Thank you so much!!! I appreciate your comment!! Yes, writing stuff like this really is a challenge… so are writing book blurbs… music album jackets… I’m beginning to think a new Booker-type prize could be awarded to whoever consistently writes good statements, blurbs, pitches, jackets etc… over the year.
And seriously thank you again for your support!!
Beautiful and inspiring post. Thanks for sharing how you get your creative juices running.
Oh thank you for your kind comment!! I appreciate that!!! 💙
Your art room supervisor is a great distraction from all the work you have set up in front of you. Mine will not stay with me so I remain unsupervised! I love your artist statement : it is simple, easy to understand for non artists, and does not have the senseless gobbledygook that just confuses everyone.
Enjoy the winery!
Thank you so much!!! I’m finishing packing up everything for delivery on Tuesday the day after Memorial day! Then the exhibit opens June 2!! 🤯🤪
Your canine supervisor obviously trusts you implicitly to stay on task in the studio without suddenly wandering into the kitchen to try a new recipe or staying too long in the studio and forgetting about important things like walks… my supervisor however feels a need to keep a close eye…🤣
And thank you for your kind words about my artist statement! I don’t like gobbledygook either!!!!
I think you are so inspiring whenever I see any of your posts Sue. Your framing is as beautiful as your artwork!
Awww thank you SO MUCH!! I really appreciate your kindness!!!