Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Should an Artist Statement Be Part of the Entry Process?
There's often a debate on the internet quilting groups about artist statements. Many quilters feel that artist statements should be included with entries so jurors can better understand how the piece fits the theme of the exhibition or how the artist created it.
I've stayed out of the debate because I don't know where I stand. I've found that some artist statements help me connect better with the work I see in front of me. At other times, flowery language confuses me or makes me want to hire the artist's agent so I, too, can use the Spin Doctor to sell ... fluff.
Now I have a new data point based on my own experience with a multi-media gallery. When I entered the Political Statements call for entry, artists were asked to label their images with all the piece's relevant information: First Name _ Last Name _ Title of Piece _ medium _ Height x Width (in inches). Aside from our contact information and our entry fee, that's all the gallery wanted from us when we submitted our images for jurying. Either the jurors understood our message and felt it was appropriate for the theme, or they didn't. They made their decision based on what they saw and what they felt they needed.
All the accepted artists have been asked now to submit an artist statement. The gallery, however, has stipulated what they'd like to receive from each of us. They want a simple explanation of what each of us was trying to say with our art, what statement we are trying to make (apropos given that this is a political statement exhibition). We submitted our statements on-line and brevity was enforced by a restricted character count. Discussion about techniques was optional and not strongly encouraged.
I like this format. Our artwork was judged on its merits alone. The artists' curatorial comments are somewhat consistent in content and short, and will make the flow of reading the statements easier, I suspect, for viewers. I don't know how the statements will be used on-line versus the gallery exhibition, so I'll re-evaluate things when I see them. For now, I'll say that I'm a fan of judging artwork without any artist commentary, but including a brief statement to preemptively answer a few viewer questions. Everything else can be left to personal interpretation, making the viewing experience that much richer.