Writing an Artist Statement is Driving Me to Drink

charlotte1I have tried writing artist statements while drinking and it doesn’t help. The whole issue makes me very nervous. I’ve only written one true statement, but, although it is dead-on accurate, it is too flip and would get me kicked to the curb if I used it to help have my work shown anywhere: “Mr. Rauhauser’s work is a delightful mix of friends, family, politics, landscape, invention and theft. He is interested in line, color, gestalt, harmony and discord. He paints because he cannot write, or compose music; his computer skills are minimal; photography is too fast, video and film are too slow and he doesn’t like other people’s hands in his work, so outsourcing is not possible.”

What I need are more art-speak words (which, as far as I can tell, seem to be borrowed from contemporary sociology, philosophy and gender/ethnic studies, none of which I have spent any time on). Take this example from Patrick Earl Hammie, “Through this project I recognized that perhaps more than any other form of image-making, figurative painting is often read as a mirror of the time in which it is made; the canvas might be uniquely valued as a type of sociohistorical document. In this vein, I began adopting body language and narrative to reinvent and remix ideal beauty and heroic nudity, to explore the tension between power and vulnerability.”

This gentleman went to Art School, I studied at the Art Student’s League and the National Academy of Design. I think he spent some time studying how to create and write about a body of work.

It’s my work that is the problem. There’s a bit of this and a bit of that. All of it serious and all of it made with sincerity, but I can’t throw a single paragraph around it (except for the one cited above). I don’t consider myself to be dabbling in realist landscapes, figures, abstracts, pop and who-knows-what-else. It is all part of a process of self-education, growing awareness and understanding as well as a desire to try different technical challenges.

As part of a process to get a handle on the range of the work I kept trying to organize my website into some sort of categorical ordering. I finally gave up because it would appear hopelessly confused. Finally, I settled on sequential order going backwards from the present.

And then there is the content of my work. It is mostly painting as painting, narrative is nonexistent or minimal nor does it rely on heavy graphic design. If I “comment” on anything in the work it is on image making and image transformation. Well, sometimes I might get a little political…

Above all it’s the creation of a “coherent” body of work that has eluded me and if I had that writing a statement would be a snap. As Shakespeare wrote, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,/But in our portfolios.”


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