Monday, June 01, 2009

how to write an artist statement (teaser)

This is a teaser for a longer post on implicit art. Please comment there so as to keep all discussion in one place...

Like making art, there are no steadfast rules to writing artist statements - and even the best of us fail sometimes - but there are of course some decent guidelines one might consider following....

Art work descriptions and statements should be about 300 - 500 words, and strictly address the following:

  1. What "is" the work? Describe it as an object, installation or situation in a way that enables visual and/or sensual comprehension. This is not what the piece is “about.” I mean it literally / physically: what are your art piece’s individual components and materials, and how do they work together as a whole?

  2. What do we see or experience? If it's an installation, consider a walk-through, a description of how it looks, sounds, smells, feels (again, not emotionally or conceptually, but physically), and what actions viewers have taken in and around it. If it's a situation, describe the relationships (and power structures) you are intervening in and how participants might perform them. Many works would likely need to address both what we experience and what we do as an audience or participants in front of it / around it / with it. How do viewers relate to the work, to the artist, to each other...?

  3. What's at stake? Why is this important to you? Why should it be important to me / others? You can briefly address or allude to conceptual issues here, but be specific rather than general. How does the piece itself address these concerns? How do we encounter them in our experience of it, and what value lies in that encounter?

7 guidelines to follow:

  1. This is not a mystery novel. Start with a one-sentence description that encompasses all of the above to some extent – especially what it is – then unpack each of the listed items as is needed.

Read more and comment at implicit art...


Donald Frazell said...

Actually, just wrote this, and about to send, wouldnt mind feedback. Watcha think? Too over the top? Too flowery? Believe me, it will work if made.

Now if it can get past his secretary, an art school grad, yech. But was of Medieval and Renaissance painting, so worth a shot.

Vatican City, 2 January 2009

# 49/08/89

Dear Sir,
We have received your e-mail dated 5th of December 2008, along with the documentation regarding your artistic activity.
I have given this information to Dr Francesco Buranelli, the Secretary for this Pontifical Commission and coordinator for this initiative of the Holy See for the Venice ’s Biennale 2011.
With my best wishes, I remain Yours sincerely
X Gianfranco Ravasi, President
Francesco Buranelli, Secretary


To His Most Reverend Arch Bishop Gianfranco Ravasi

My name is Donald Frazell. I truly appreciate your responding to my previous inquiry to the Vatican, as far as needed religious artworks and commissions. Most in the art world never respond one way or another, and finding people of conscience and character is always a joy. I wrote you late last year with a brief explanation of what I was trying to do, and attached three studies that I plan to create at over 2 meters tall each, as a triptych. After your response that you had sent them on to your Secretary in charge of the 2011 Venice Biennale, which I know is your first time there, I proceeded to design an easily constructed Chapel, one that could be taken to another site, or disposed of and paintings used for another purpose.

Below I am going to attempt to explain why I did this, what the paintings are representative of, as they are Modern of cubist and expressionist style, and not always quickly identifiable, but definitely felt. And also why the current art scene is not amenable to a charge of faith and God, as is your highest Purpose. For mankind, nature and god ceased to be a part of art long ago, the reasons of which I have campaigned against for over a year now, on art blogs across the world. And I am making headway, as the economic collapse, woven into the very being of Contemporary art, was inevitable. As the individual man had become supreme, and god forgotten, ignored, and denied.

Donald Frazell said...

(Have to send in three pieces, rather long, like I am longwinded, ha!)

The Judgment Triptych

The first of the three paintings I started back in the 1990s. The one titled Trial was begun after the Rodney King riot here in Los Angeles, CA, USA. A travesty of justice had occurred, and wrath broken out, filling the streets with anger, burnings and attacks, and men harmed badly. The next two days were uncontrollable looting, as the police had pulled back and left parts of the city ungoverned, and man’s law shown to be false. It was the evil side of man exposed, from government and law on down. Those both of character and selfishness were seen, some helping and protecting the innocent, others stealing and laughing as they felt there were no consequences, no justice, no call to Judgment.

I started sketching, looking to find some way to reflect what had happened, how the good, the bad, and those too scared to do anything had shown themselves for who they truly were. I sought structure and meaning in the Church, in God’s law to man, in how man had ignored the Truth, what was good, and thought only of themselves. I started Trial, as I felt that was what man was in. We are all awaiting Trial, a Day of Judgment, where we must speak for our actions, and suffer the consequences, for both good and evil.

I came up with a scene of man before God, with the Angel of the Lord before man, awaiting the verdict, as to the right Jesus argued for man. His defense attorney, knowing of mans sins, and goodness, the pressures and temptations we must endure every day, as well as the embodying good, and sacrifice for all we have been given. To the right the Holy Spirit calls for man to justice, to reveal all that is impure in our hearts, our selfishness, our inevitable fall below God’s laws and expectations. The Trial is in duration, not yet is justice given. God the Father waits to the upper right, watching, listening, looking into Man’s very heart, soon to render His verdict. For man must answer for his sins, and be delivered to Truth, his hearts purpose revealed.

The second painting I furiously sketched as the economic collapse occurred, something so predictable, as mans vanity and greed had either made him loose all reason, or pursue his own benefit at the cost to others, knowingly. It is Doom. The verdict is given, and man must suffer for is sins. The blade of Justice falls, as the Holy Spirit looks on approvingly, and Jesus cries, tears for man. For we are all loved, even in our sin. God glows in anger, and man receives his fate.

The third is Acceptance. Jesus takes over the scene, man has been found worthy, never innocent, but through Jesus sacrifice we are given life, and welcomed unto Heaven. He opens his arms, in embrace, Welcomed unto Gods Kingdom, as the Father glows in joy, gold and light spreading, the Trial over, but not the man. Judgment is given. The Holy Spirit walks away to the left, the Angel lowers his sword and proceeds to the next man to await his Trial.

Donald Frazell said...

The Judgment Chapel

After your reply, I began to think of ways to present these in your Pavilion. A way to represent the Vatican, and appeal to mankind for acceptance of Purpose, of God. I began with the Triptych over an altar, Jesus standing with open arms, the Trial starting at the left, Doom awaiting those who do not accept Truth to the right. I put a railing where man could kneel and pray, asking for forgiveness, accepting the Lords justice. Preparing to live in His way, as given to us to accept or deny, as Judgment will someday come unto all of us. For we must all answer for our thoughts, actions, and hearts desire. Mind, Body and Soul.

I worked out a Judgment Chapel. With two possible configurations depending on your wishes and needs. One with a courtyard in waiting, another without. It is small, black inside except for three open domes above, with lights upon the paintings, and candles for those who wish to light in prayer. The outer courtyard has two long walls approaching the entrance and exit, for people should come in the left, and leave the right, allowing those who wish to kneel in prayer, and those who leave to do so quietly. The left side of the diagrams are wider, depending on your room and desires. It would be this size if there is to be no courtyard, and may need to be to leave enough door space for viewers flowing through the room.

Two other paintings would be inside if there is no courtyard, both already completed, 3 meters wide. Based on John Coltrane’s music, one called Africa Brass, of musicians woven together as warriors, calling out to man. The other of Ascension, for Coltrane was perhaps the most religious musician of the 20th century. His music always a call to God, for acceptance, in humble and joyful prayer. Inside, I would play the first and fourth movements of his A Love Supreme work. The first, Acknowledgement, praising God as our Lord, accepting His wisdom and Purpose. The Fourth, Psalm. Prone before God, humbly praying for mercy, admitting our sins, confessing our love.

Or revealing the anger, selfishness and fear that has filled many with Sin. For the Chapel is designed to cut to the heart, to break down the walls we have constructed to deny God, to justify our sins. Outside in wait, a small obelisk, surrounded by cushions for sitting. On each side is carved in wood what awaits us all. We approach to Judgment and how this has come about. To the right, Acceptance, of Jesus love for man, and our call to Purpose. On the back, Doom, the causes of our failure before God. On the left Trial and how the verdict is reached. Music is to be played, low as inside. The second and third movements of A Love Supreme, Resolution and Pursuance, things of life, for those of us as we proceed in this world to build in Gods way, his Purpose. Surrounded by Africa Brass on the left, as we contemplate the forces of good, and Ascension to the right, revealing the joy of living life purely, humbly, in virtue. In front, Angel Dance, where the Lord reveals the love and joy of oneness, of being the children of god, and his servants praise for Him.

I hope this fulfills your quest for art in this new Millennium. We are at a time of great change, of how man sees himself in the world, his relationship with God. We are at a time of reappraisal, and movement to either build within Gods creation, or continue to destroy it for our own gratification. Placing the individual before God, denying Him, and ignoring our duty to our fellow man. Any changes you wish are of course yours to do, I only hope this meets what you consider Arts Purpose, what you are looking for to convey, and represent the views and desires of the Vatican.

Yours truly, Donald Frazell
Attached are the plans for the Chapel, the artworks, and an article on Art and Purpose.

Thank you.