I recently published a book called From This Place (in collaboration with photographer Angela Rivas) and had the pleasure of interviewing fourteen diverse women artists from a range of genres including painting, mixed media, ceramics and, of course, writing.
As we dived deeper and deeper into this work, I couldn’t help but notice one key difference between the visual artists and the writers.
The visual artists, especially those who had exhibited at some point, had all prepared artist statements. And it occurred to me that writing such a statement is not something writers typically do. I had never written one so I set myself the task.
And I found it illuminating.
Without a real process to follow, I instinctually went to the page and started to write.
I wrote about what I enjoyed writing about.
I wrote about what message I wanted to leave with people.
I wrote about what was important to me and I wrote about the kind of language I liked to play with.
I wrote about what value I gave to my writing and what I wrote.
I dug deep and I wrote honestly about the writing I do. Sometimes what came out surprised me, but in those 2-3 pages of journaling I started to find those steady places where the moment of truth emerges.
I let those pages wash over me and circled the words that carried energy for me. These words then danced into prose-like sentences, and something came alive. I felt known.
An artist statement is not a formulaic ‘fill the gaps’ type paragraph or two but rather an emanation of the soul purpose and why we create. Of real value was the exploration into those values – my statement is a living breathing metaphor for a life lived from the deepest part of me.
The process clarified me, burned away all the things I thought sounded good or would make me a living and left me with the truth of my writing practice.
In 99 words, I managed to speak up about my writing and claim my writers’ heart. That is what, I think, a true artist statement is – a piece of the heart that brings others into your work and takes you beyond your boundaries of if, should and if only.
Here I am:
I am interested in revealing the untold tales of women and their souls.
In freeing a woman’s voice.
In elevating the feminine.
To craft and be wholly of the feminine in way and word. To ride on the back of instinct and to write.
I look for the spaces in which we may seek our rest.
Where words provide pause.
Where beauty cracks us open.
This is what my own heart seeks most – to be broken by beauty and for words to become the imperfect veins of gold that allow us to weep and let us truly be.
What is your’s?
Photo credit Angela Rivas