gra-tu-i-tous |grəˈt(y)oōitəs|
{ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Latin gratuitus ‘given freely,spontaneous’}
1. uncalled for; lacking good reason; unwarranted : gratuitous violence.2. given or done free of charge : gratuitous advice.
vi-o-let |ˈvī(ə)lət|{ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French violette} adjective:
1. a bluish-purple color seen at the end of the spectrum opposite red.
2. a herbaceous plant of temperate regions, typically having purple, blue,or white five-petaled flowers, one of which forms a landing pad for pollinating insects. Genus Viola, family Violaceae.
3. ME.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I Plead the Fifth

Recently it was brought to my attention that I need to write an artist's statement, so I may include it with bio and portfolio when applying for shows, grants and residencies, etc. 

He who smelled it- dealt it...

You: "An artist statement?"
Me: "Yup."

"Pompous Bastard" by Tanner Morrow

If you are not familiar with this type of thing, let's investigate it together...

One man describes it as thus:  "Artist statements are simple descriptions of intent taken over by a literary form of cancer."

Nice, no? Does not make me want to take the task on. 

And another person agrees: "Unless an artist statement is kept real short or is to describe some process method, I would just as soon not have to read what is usually a philosophical description that is so full of BS its hard for me to not stick my finger down my throat and vomit after doing so. Let the viewer decide what ‘statement’ any artwork makes."

No wonder I have not done this in all these years! EEK!

Answer: VERY!

When I was working at the art supply shop, we would read the artist statements in the Artsy Fartsy magazines, often taking turns pompously dictating them in funny false foreign voices. Sheer bullshit. (The portraits of the artists were often equally as rediculous.) 

One painter shares this with us: 

"My work is inspired by the natural world. Its beauty and its cruelty. Its hostility and its hospitality. Its paradoxes and its contrasts. When looking at nature, one can't help but see its destruction at the hands of humans. It is virtually impossible to find unspoiled nature. Our planet's ecological balance has been severely compromised, and phenomena such as global warming and the deterioration of the ozone layer affect every inch of the planet. I feel strongly that each of us must use the tools at our disposal to preserve and restore the natural world. As an artist, I employ visual language to address these issues with the goal of awakening interest and inspiring my audience to action. I also work with groups such as the IPCC (Irish Peatland Conservation Council), and biologists, to learn more about each series' subject in order to better understand and communicate its essence. Those who cannot be reached by depressing news about the dire state of our world may be reached by images of its beauty (Ansel Adams successfully showed this) and the threat imposed on it. Art has the power to make one see things in a new light. It allows us to develop a love for places and things that we would otherwise not have noticed, or thought of as ugly or boring. It helps us discover the beauty of the ocean floor, the dirt that is bog, the bark of a tree."

Me too. 
The woman goes on: 

"Rather than re-creating a landscape on a canvas, I aim to express its essence. Obviously, no single work can hope to distill the complex spirit of a landscape, much less the infinitely sophisticated ecology that sustains it. So, in order to capture this richness, I work on a large number of paintings concurrently. This allows me to transport strong elements and effective techniques from one piece to the next. Each multi-layered rendering shares some details with the other works in the series. The overlap of elements enriches each individual expression and deepens the cohesion within the series. Ultimately, each piece captures some fragment of the landscape's power until the larger body of work coalesces to express its deepest essence."

I stopped reading after the first sentence, honestly. I did not even look at her paintings based on my adverse reaction.
This above statement unfortunately is the norm- thankfully, there are exceptions. But they are difficult to find. I want to cavort among the latter. Duh. But if one's statement precedes their art being viewed, then you had better make an impact, using honesty and character. 
But how?


The following images were examples of "Art Snob"a'la the Google:


Kids are the worst Art Snobs EVER!

I call her Paris

"500X Moby"

AXOLOTL is the Snobbiest!

So, how do I share/bare my intent with an outsider, without sounding boring or snooty like everyone else? Obviously one must play the dang game to get the carrot, no? I know that speaking from the heart/core is important, but I am slightly clueless otherwise. 

Any ideas?


  1. I think it's funny that they sound so similar to a beauty pageant's response. Just as insipid and self indulgent. "I would just like to use this platform/my artwork to promote world peace, and I would just like to take a stand against man's inhumanity to his fellow man. If only we could love our fellow man and the earth and OURSELVES, especially ourselves, the world would be a better place. Some people might misunderstand and think that I am narcissistic but if you can't love and express yourself, how can you hope to love others or... blah, blah, blah."

    I think you should just say something about being a kick-ass artist (I assume you are) and if they don't like it, they can just suck it!

  2. You could say which artists have inspired you. Rock musicians like Keith Richard always sound cool and dedicated when they mention their idols.

  3. I think the shirt is perfect. So you:) Or you could try to be the cool ass aloof artist. "I let my art tell the story." Those artsy fartsy type are not going to admit they don't "get" it, so you win.

  4. Flip,
    In the past I made fun of other artists by making a phony statement in the vain of Miss Understood... Hi, My name is Violet and I love ART. I also Love kittens, long luxurious bubble baths and strolls on the beach... And although those were funny, it got me nowhere, even if I got a chuckle or two. As I grow up [did I just say that?] I have different needs as per how I put myself out there. I shall keep reading other shitty statements and hopefully, I will find some inspiration.
    I am inspired by so many people, and since I am trying to not sound contrived, I don't want to list them. After all, there is no way Ice Cube's influence in my life has had any visual influence on my work. Just an example. Although perhaps I could find a way to organize thoughts and inspirations in a new light. I will have to think about it...
    I agree. Some people are too stupid to admit they are as stupid as they are. Did I just say that? Now I am a pageant contestant. Where is my freiken crown?!?!?

    Side note- I have been writing daily about the stuff I do want to make. The reasons behind it are completely different than last year's projects. And hearing feedback at the studio about my stuff has been so misconstrued, I realize- many "peers" are shallow and assuming fools who are dabblers- nothing more or less- in the arts. 99% of people don't understand shit. So how do I explain abstract thoughts and emotions to these fools? Answer: I DON'T.
    Back to square one...

  5. WAIT... Go watch this:


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