As an artist, writer, or academic, life tends to revolve around word counts. Applications, drafts, and papers all have specific requirements to limit or encourage the amount of words used to convey your meaning. The best piece of advice I got as a young student was from my eighth grade Civics teacher, “Omit needless words!” I can still hear her voice repeating that phrase over and over as we learned how to write the classic five paragraph essay. Now that I am an artist wrestling with the task of writing my artist statement for a professional development class (required for my MFA), I want to cling to this mantra. Most artists will tell you how much they loathe the artist statement. We all long for the day when we’re able to have others interpret and write about our work for us. It’s not that I hate writing; I just hate writing about my art.
I found myself stuck. Stuck right around 200 words. It’s all I had to say. All that mattered at that moment in time. It’s where I was and what my art was dealing with. But this assignment came with the strict word requirement of 400-500 words. *groan* I first want to point out how untrue to life this is. Most proposals stick you with a word cap: no more than 500 words. What’s this magic 100 word range about? I ended up tacking on some BS to fill the limit, which is exactly what most readers are hoping to avoid when creating the cap. The cap allows me, the artist, to determine how verbose, or not, I desire to be. Word limits bring on fluff. If the argument is to bring out more ideas, or make sure the student takes the assignment seriously, I call BS. If the student doesn’t take it seriously then you, the teacher, can penalize him for that.
So here I am posting what I wish I could have handed in for my assignment (and I have to give credit to my dear friend and co-conspirator, MDW, for suggesting it).
I have never believed the trajectory of my work, or of my life for that matter, to occupy a straight line. Art emulates life, and life in the studio ebbs and flows in one direction to the next. Transition is my current occupation, obsession, and observation. Transition from paper to canvas. Transition from pencil to paint. Transition from academic to artistic. Transition from Atlanta to Brooklyn. From black and white to color to black and white. Figurative to abstract. Concept to composition. Plain to made-up. Naked to adorned. Masculine to feminine to anywhere in between. Pent up to free. Alone to together to alone again, or. Motion to stasis. Salad to stew. Cowboy boots to snow pants. Public to private. Private to Twitter. Line to shade. Misgivings to trust. Tourist to resident.
My paintings investigate how gender is defined and classified within Western society. I am interested in how people display their gendered identities and the visual culture that pushes us to one extreme or another. I try and discover what lies between the dichotomy of male and female. Fashion and art have long intersected, and I am fascinated by the psychology behind the decision to adorn the body with certain garments rather than the garments themselves. You see what you want to see, whether it be a mirror or a window; one and the same depending on the time of day.
Time of day, depending, same and the one. Window or mirror whether see to want you, what you see. Garments themselves, rather than garments certain body to adorn the decision behind psychology fascinated by, and I am. Intersected have art and fashion. Female and male dichotomy between lies what discover and try I. Another extreme. One to us pushes that culture visual and the identities gendered their display people how am interested in I. Western society within classified and defined is gender. How investigate my paintings.
Resident to tourist. Trust to Misgivings. Shade to line. Twitter to Private. Private to Public. Snow pants to cowboy boots. Stew to salad. Stasis to motion. Or, alone again to together to alone. Free to pent up. Anywhere in between to feminine to masculine. Adorned to naked. Made-up to plain. Composition to concept. Abstract to figurative. From black and white to color to black and white. Brooklyn to Atlanta transition. Artistic to academic transition. Paint to pencil transition. Canvas to paper transition. Observation, obsession, and occupation current transition. Next direction one flows and ebbs in studio and life; life emulates art. Line straight occupy to matter that life my of or, my work, trajectory believed never have I.