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updated thu 10 oct 02


vince pitelka on tue 8 oct 02

Lili wrote:
"A lot of potters are, as I think Janet said, dyslexic. Others may have
damaged language skills from CP neurological disorders, and deafness. What
clay offers is a world of silent communication. A world in which those
who, for whatever reason, have less language than most are treated as
equals. What matters to me, enormously, is that a potter who has clay as
her main language is barred or handicapped when there is a show or similar
where a statement is asked for.
What I am so deeply concerned about is that someone might be deprived of an
opportunity glib, verbal people like me have."

Lili -
As I said in another post, I think this is irrelevant. The struggle to find
the right words will be an incredibly productive experience, and may be a
defining moment in the artist's understanding of himself/herself. To imply
that someone unwilling to write an artist's statement is somehow "deprived
of an opportunity" simply doesn't work at all. Anyone, anywhere can get a
little help if they need it. The important thing is that an artist's
statement is simply a statement by the artist, and EVERY artist makes
statements about their work in some form or another. The "artist's
statement" need only be a simply distillation of those comments or thoughts,
and anyone can put one together very easily once they get over the initial
Best wishes -
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Appalachian Center for Crafts
Tennessee Technological University
1560 Craft Center Drive, Smithville TN 37166
Home -
Work -
615/597-6801 ext. 111, fax 615/597-6803

Snail Scott on wed 9 oct 02

At 06:25 PM 10/8/02 -0700, you wrote:
>...I would be able
>to write up someone else, but just cannot seem to do it for myself.

So have someone else do it for you! It can really
be an interesting and informative experience. I
once did that for an event publicity brochure -
had someone else write my bio and a statement. Not
'faking it', just written by a third party, like
an article. In some contexts (like a grad school
application) this would be totally unacceptable,
but for exhibitions or as show handouts, why not?
Ask someone who knows you and your work, or just
a friend who is willing to listen and ask questions,
then recompose that information in a one-page (or
less) essay.

I think this comes across well to some readers,
too - reading someone else's opinion of the artist,
rather than the artist's own words, seems more
natural to them; more neutral. Not everyone's taste,
but maybe the right approach for you. And you can
abdicate the personal analysis to someone else.
Let them claim responsibility for the highfalutin'
puffery in the text, while you reap the reward!

This sort of thing can get you started on writing
your own, too. You're bound to look at what your
friend wrote and think, "That's not it at all!".
It's sometimes easier to correct and edit than it
is to face a blank page from scratch. There are no
rules for statements, not even that it's got to be
your writing!

If you have an artist friend, why not try writing
statements for each other? Do it with the
understanding that you'll be taking and revising
it, like a hard feelings about
precious texts, just a professional exercise and
maybe a bit of fun, too.

>I'm also intimidated by the language used by artists in
>their statements---god, where did they learn to write like that?! Rarely do
>you find good, plain English, or any humour, or "lay" language.

Well, that's their loss, then. Academic language
has its place - in academia! If your audience is
composed of lay people, then by all means, use
ordinary colloquial language. Flippant, ironic,
folksy, spiritual, blunt, romantic, funny...make
the style suit you and your work. After all, who
else's work is it supposed to suit? This isn't a
high school writing assignment - set your own
standards, and make your statement what YOU want
it to be.

Reno, NV