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Ellen Anne Eddy
Author of Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy Fiber artist, author and teacher
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Musings: Art out of the Box: I said what? The Dreaded Art Statement

If you've ever walked through an art museum, you'll often find huge art statements written on the wall of some of the exhibits. There's courage.

Someone I love dearly who had an Art History degree once explained to me that all art in a museum has been sanitized for your protection. Considering most artists I know, that's probably a good idea. Why did Van Gogh cut off his ear? Or Goya start doing pictures of kid snacks? These are questions where I think there's probably no answer I really want to hear.
But as artists, we're asked to make statements, to explain why we do what we do.

All of this makes two pretty tough assumptions. One is that the artist is verbal enough to make a cogent art statement. Some of them can barely put their names on the front. It doesn't mean they're not good artists. It means that their whole world is really truly a visual experience and that verbal stuff is nigh on impossible. It's part of what makes them an amazing artist.  It's more common than you think.

The other assumption is that you really could say it in public and not be run out of town.

Art comes out of such a central dark place. The unconscious is not dark necessarily because of the subject matter, but because it's not necessarily a clean and tidy place. It's is not a place where most people dust regularly. We stumble over old things within it, right ourselves and find them haunting us in our work, whether we intend that or not.Sometimes we drag something out of that closet and work with it. More often, the door opens a crack and things spill out. If they spill into our art, we're left trying to explain.

Now the unconscious doesn't do politically correct.Or socially acceptable. It is what it is. Because it's how we feel, rather than what we do, that's not a problem. What ever you feel about your nosy neighbors, unkind relations, old boy friends and other adversaries is irrelevant as long as you're not acting on it. Art is sort of a gray area here. Interacting with them in your art work is totally legal, personally cleansing, and probably fine as long as it stays on a canvas or the wall. It's considered tacky if it has names attached but it's certainly been done before. It's when you go to explain it to someone.If it's abstract probably no one will have a clue.

Which leads us to art statements like "I was playing with light and color." "Deep hues of reds, blues and yellows accentuate the personal experience". If it sounds like something out of a kindergarten class or out of a philosophy  seminar, you're probably looking at something you might be better off not knowing.

This in no way, reduces my love of that person's art. I just understand that like myself, she has a closet she can't quite keep clean and she can't quite keep the door closed on. And she has no idea how to talk about it.

As for myself, it's almost all personal experiences dressed in the animals I sew. My bugs are always about real beauty. Not the Barbie beauty of my  childhood, or the conformity of my adolescence ( boy did we fail at a that) or the tidy adult image (didn't do so well there either). It's about the wild beauty I see in myself that can't conform, that scares me and probably scares others. That is an artist's heart.


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1 comments:

Dawn said...

For some reason, when I saw the discussion of the meaning of art, I thought of you. Your art transports me and make me believe in magic and fantasy and they tell such stories. I just want to sit by your side and hear your stories. See what you see when you're creating. Do I need to understand? Not really. But I so would love to hear the story they're telling. Maybe that's the writer/reader in me -- I want words. :)

Dawnwww.subversivestitch.blogspot.com

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