I recently finished an artist statement that had me on bed rest for 2 days. When I get in my writing zone I make a shit ton of green tea and coffee and have Project Runway playing in the background. I sit in my bed with papers and books covering the entirety.
Artist Statements, grant writing, residency applications, scholarships: I hate and love them. I don’t think I would ever classify myself as a great writer, because I know great writers and they blow my goddamn mind. I think I’ve always been a passable writer. I do a little better than the average person but I always left the reader a little disappointed in my grammar. The ideas were there but the organization and punctuation were sub-par. This is my own analysis by the way, no one has ever told me this, but in a way I wish they would have. I’m not sure I’d ever be able to whip something intelligent up in 30 minutes; it took me two full days to piece together 166 words that describe my upcoming show. On the flip side I love writing these types of papers because I like to prove things to myself. When I finish the statement, grant, scholarship ect, I am fucking pumped.
I want to be a better writer. Writing is an art. Piecing together words forcing readers to visualize; that’s powerful. I’m hoping by writing more (this blog) and applying for tons of grants (even the ones that seem so far fetched) I will become a stronger writer. As a part of the graduate program I am about to join, I will be in a 3 week writing seminar. I am scared shitless but also very excited for this. I know this challenge will push me to be a better writer. Another way I’ve been pushing myself to become a better writer is to imitate others styles.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We’ve all heard this saying and we’ve all been slightly annoyed by it, but there is validity in imitation. I read a great article on this topic in the magazine, Flow created in the Netherlands. The only way I was able to write my artist statement was by looking at other artist statements. I had a professor at UNLV that I really admired, I don’t think she cared very much for me, but she still helped me out. She helped me write my artist statement. She was able to tell me things about my work I had no idea about. I felt insecure about this. Shouldn’t I know everything about my work? For a while I told myself I couldn’t even use the statement we had conjured up together because it felt more like her writing than mine. I felt like I cheated. I ended up using that statement because in the end I needed more time to focus on the work than the statement. Now, only one year later I realize I should have owned that damn artist statement. The professor helped me tremendously by giving me a platform to start my discussion. I was imitating her type of language because I really liked the way she spoke. I wasn’t copying her, I admired her and strive to have a vocabulary like her. Imitation and copying are different. Imitation is just another word for inspiration.
Lets face it, we all imitate. We imitate our parents as we grow up and we imitate our friend’s through out life. We like things that other people like. I took beginning black and white photography because this girl at RMCAD in Denver took it. She was super cool and had a really hot boyfriend and she always came into the wood shop, where I worked. It’s as simple as that, I thought she was cool, she told me about the class and I took the class. That class took me in a direction I had always dreamed about. I changed my business accounting degree to fine arts because I had the coolest teacher ever and I really admired her. I had taken a few art classes in high school and my brother was an artist so I knew I was interested but I didn’t really think about making it a career. I was also very good at math, so accounting seem logical. While taking accounting classes at The University Center in Sioux Falls I took a drawing class with my best friend and Liz Bashore Heeren was our teacher. Liz seemed so worldly; even though she was living in South Dakota I could tell she knew of a much larger existence. I was only 19 at the time but I had not met very many worldly people. The next semester Carly, my best friend, and I took an art appreciation class. That class was the coolest! We talked about life, and art, and watched movies on Jackson Pollock and Grizzly Man. I wanted to be an art teacher; I wanted to be worldly like Liz, so I did it.
Link to Liz's Website: http://lizlab.com/
Imitation is a beautiful way to connect with people. We are told to be individuals and to have a unique view but we learn though others and we have to embrace this. So if you find yourself struggling with something, find someone working in that same area and imitate them until you get out of it what you need, and then make it your own.
I will leave you with the artist statement I wrote for the show at Las Vegas’ City Hall that will be going up at the end of December through March of 2017.
My work is informed by societal standards set for women.
Working within the constraints of feminism and formalism, I make work that challenges the viewer to look beyond the façade of repetition and decoration, into a deeper understanding of female desire. Through visual pairings of stereotypical feminine symbology creating new meaning about female desires, I stress it is important that women are able to extricate themselves from domestic standards. By using textiles as material representation of female complacency, and addressing feminine experiences through photographic imagery within that material, I create a dialogue about the double standards women are expected to live by: pure and provocative. Providing a physical reclamation for females to determine their own standards, I've created flags out of my textiles.
By providing an expression of female desire through decorative form I am facilitating a discussion about individual needs. Female desire can’t be defined by society and instead should be defined by self.