Friday, July 2, 2010

Brave and stupid

I had breakfast with my pottery friends Charlotte and Kristen today to touch base on pottery chat, kids and stuff and I told them I would do this so here goes. I am sitting on the porch with my Sam Adams so I am brave and stupid and ready to put it out there!
Yesterday I read a letter to the editor in Ceramics Monthly June/July/August issue(don't like to work in the summer, people?) regarding the artist statements of their selected emerging artists and I just have to say Thank You to the person that wrote this! I am too lazy to get up right now and go get the magazine and scan it or copy the letter so find yourself the letter and read it if you want to know what I am talking about.... basically this person is saying what I think every time I read an artist statement. What are you talking about, is usually my first response. I consider myself a fairly intelligent person, I was a straight A student, I can use proper grammar when forced to and I can have a pretty good conversation with you on occasion. But I can't for the life of me read most of the artist statements that get written by people mostly out of grad school with an MFA. I read the first sentence, lose interest and move on.
A while back I sent a draft of an artist statement to Alex Matisse, who I consider to be an excellent writer, in fact if he decides to not be a potter, he should be a writer. Anyway, I knew that I would get an honest critique from him. Problem was, it was a bunch of horse shit, and made no sense at all. I was writing as if I had been influenced by all those other statements I had read, which in fact, I was. I re read it recently and am basically mortified that I could write something so ridiculous! I think the problem was, I had nothing to say. I wasn't feeling anything for the work I was making. I am now, I know where it's coming from and I sat down and wrote another one because, these applications sometimes require one. I would prefer to just say, I like clay, I fire clay, I sell pottery and be done with it.
So here is the brave and stupid part. I told my friends that I would post my newly written statement on my blog, so here it is. Let me know what you think, feel free to edit and suggest changes.

Tracey Broome Artist Statement

I was born in a small town in North Carolina near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but moved to the coast of South Carolina as a small child and grew up in a town visited every summer by tourists from all over. I always thought that I would be a painter, but pursued a career in interior design instead and spent over twenty-five years designing furniture showrooms, retail stores and theater sets and props. I saw a wheel throwing demonstration at the North Carolina State Fair when I was forty years old, and signed up for a class the next week. That was the beginning of changing careers from full time designer to full time potter.

Although the sand and the ocean are important memories of my childhood, I find that I am influenced most by the rides through rural North Carolina and the visits to Seagrove potters, journeys my grandparents took me on in the summers when I visited them. I loved the barns, the fields, the abandoned houses, the rusty tractors and the colors of the country. Blue and white were the colors at home but in the country there was rust, barn wood, and green trees. I loved it.

I now create work that expresses the serenity and simplicity of those colors in the country, the influences of the barns and houses and sometimes a hint of turquoise from the ocean sneaks in. Most of my work is hand built using either slabs or coils. It is then fired in a gas kiln at low temperatures. My palette includes stains, oxides, and glazes as well as dry clay and, on occasion, acrylic paints. I also include mixed media in some of my work. I use templates that I have designed using drafting skills from my days as a designer, but I never know exactly how the piece will turn out until it has been fired at least once. I love the surprises I get with each piece.

I have a deep respect for the history of what has already been created and try to add to that lineage of creativity with my own personal vision. Art is a companion, and it is my intent that the objects I create originate through my own personal growth. My work changes constantly, but the influences of my past on my art are ever present.


Trish said... 'hit the nail on the perverbial head!!'..:).. (I just posted that I have to take my artist's statement to a Gallery..and I don't know if it IS or ISN'T..what it is 'supposed' to be....) I agree that most I read just baffle me..what?? what did you say or mean?? always comes to mind...(I do not have the issue of CM that you mentioned, but one can find lots of statements 'around').. I think I will post mine too so anyone can comment..:).. Yours is perfect; simple, direct, honest. Understandable:)..which is what they should be, in my humble opinion..(I am going to email you a couple of pics of barns that I passed yesterday.. ) cheers. T.

Peter said...

Hey..., something must be wrong with that statement, I can actually understand it, and it is enjoyable and interesting to read! Well done!

I think that it could be a nice goal for any of us who write statements to think of making life richer and more interesting for the reader. Using words in the way that you have paints strong pictures in the imagination. I can see the "rusty tractors" and glimpse the "hint of turquoise from the ocean" and my life feels better for it.

It P's me off reading the garbage that often appears in art publications, and I wonder who benefits from it? I wonder if anyone enjoys writing it?

Dennis Allen said...

Pretentious art school bullshit must bring a good price and it is probably useful when explaining why CM features the objects they do in their magazine.Whenever I read those statements, I suspect that the Emperor really has no clothes.

Precision, clarity, brevity, and simplicity are the hallmarks of good writing.Your statement gives insight into who you are and how you work.It is clear and easily readable. I didn't need a thesaurus or a secret decoder ring to follow what you were saying. Thanks for bringing this up.

Linda Starr said...

Good for you, brave and not stupid; I must follow in your footsteps and do my statement again; love the window, reminds me of your colorful surfaces; have to come back and re-read your statement in a day - almost over on my megabites for this billing cycle. Happy Fourth.

Liz said...

That's the best damned artist statemnt I have ever read. Thanks so much for sharing it!

ang said...

interesting challenge trace you either write what 'the man' wants or what the peeps want to read and be able to see in your work, writing for 'the man' is such a challenge because you dont know what 'he' wants or you can write what you know about your own work succinctly! and so well put pete!!

Spirited Earth said...

most of the artists i know agree with you..what is that bs about in artists statements they just get stressed by having to put down on paper something that is not a verbal experience in the first place.
there are alot of reasons i create..most people could care less what that's about ..not really..they have a story in their own heads already,that may or usually may not be the same as the story i might tell them about my work.
i think your statement is very real and readable..great job

DirtKicker Pottery said...

Your Artist Statement is really good. It's real, it's interesting, it's you.
:) Cindy

cookingwithgas said...

well said!

cindy shake said...

You go girl!! I completely agree with you about artist's statements -why do the majority of us not get it when we read one?? Maybe the mumbo-jumbo type of artists statements are visual artists' attempt at writing...maybe we should just draw a picture instead!

As for your artist statement I think you could almost do without the first two paragraphs -depending on what you're writing it for -it's nice because the last two paragraphs can stand alone quite nicely if you were only allowed a certain word count. The last grant I applied for had a very strict word count -but hey, I didn't get the grant so what do I know -ha!

I enjoyed feeling like a know a little bit more about you after reading it. I especially enjoy knowing what inspires artists to do what they do.

Anonymous said...

It's funny that you post about this today as I've been wondering if I should rewrite my own. My statement is similar to yours (which I loved, by the way) in that I speak about my inspiration, which is the sanctuary of home and the necessity in our world for stillness (I paint interiors). This morning I decided that I wasn't going to as I believe that the general population understands what my work means to me just by looking at it, and that my statement reflects that just as it is. Another perfect post. Thank you.

Tracey Broome said...

Hey everyone, glad to know I'm not alone here! I had a feeling there were others thinking the same way, good to know I was right! Thanks for the comments, and Cindy you might be right about the first two paragraphs, it works fine without them, thanks!!

Judy Shreve said...

Tracey - I love your artist statement. It's clearly written and gives me a hint about you and your influences -- helps me to love your work even more! I think the public always want to know a little bit about the artist -- makes them feel closer to the work. You've achieved that! Well written.

And I agree with Cindy that if you are restricted by word count -- the last two paragraphs stand alone.

We should all post our artist statements -- and get comments -- you are brave! lol

Patricia Griffin said...

Hi Tracey! Great job on the artist statement. I think you need a shorter version too. Really appreciated the comments from Peter and Dennis. What great feedback.

Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

Out with the hyperbole, in with the facts and heart. enjoyed every word.

Anonymous said...

hi tracey... kudos on your statement and definitely not stupid. it is to the clear, concise, evocative and it means what it says. although i completely agree with the silliness of the artist statement, as one of the reviled MFA graduates, i feel compelled to point out that the conceiving of and writing of these statements is a large focus of many programs and i sympathize with some of these students who, like you and i, really just love clay and want to make things and are being conditioned to believe the importance of these statements. i don't think any student ever went to a graduate program because the ceramics prof. had a reputation as a great artist statement writer. sometimes someone is really good at making things and still not so good at writing. i had a painter friend in undergrad school who couldn't write a comprehensible paragraph and he wouldn't have gotten into grad school at all if our ceramics instructor hadn't basically written his statement for him. another related issue surrounding this is that many potential customers seem to enjoy a story that goes with their purchase and a clear statement might give the artist a point of departure conversationally as opposed to doing what i used to do as a student... stand there with a dumb look on my face and stammer like a dolt.

Tracey Broome said...

Jim, I hear ya! I remember coming out of college thinking that I was brilliant and thinking I was the only designer out there. We were not taught a lot of real life skills like checking invoices when receiving orders, hiring part time workers, etc. I think college is grand and I still use the skills I learned there every day, I just wish there was more common sense attached to some of the learning! I only used the MFA example because that was what the person in CM referred to in their letter. There are plenty of those statements coming from non MFA folks. I in fact wrote one of them:)

Vicki said...

I agree about the last two paragraphs standing alone, but I enjoyed the first two as well... you could include them in your Bio instead.

Artist statements are supposed to give a viewer an insight into the artist's inspirations and the meaning of the work, but you are right, so many statements are abstract to the point of incomprehensibility. Thanks for showing us what a clear, down-to-earth artist statement looks like!