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Lesson Plans

Re: artists and meaning

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Betty Bowen (
Wed, 17 Feb 1999 12:27:23 -0600

Explaining the meaning of my work is perhaps made more difficult because I
work abstractly. One thing I tried recently to help myself put abstraction
into words was have a friend write my artist's statement for a recent show.
This friend/old classmate has known my work for many years, is also an
artist & printmaker, but also a librarian/book reviewer. She sent me a list
of "quotes about art by artists" and had me pick & choose the ones I could
relate to personally. That gave her some clues. She wrote a rough draft - as
if she were me - and emailed it to me, and I edited it into something
completely different over several days. finally, I had a statement that
really meant something. It was so helpful to see "myself" through someone
else's eyes and be able to "recognize" the bits that were me, and weren't
me. A useful exercise. An artist's statement that doesn't embarrass me!

One problem I've found in really disclosing what my work might be about is
that some people need it to be "OF" something, so, for example, if I make
any suggestion that sometimes weather is involved, suddenly I can be "that
artist who's work is about weather because she's from Oklahoma and you know
they have really bad weather there, so - hey, those lines must make this a
landscape, that a funnel cloud?".
So sometimes we artists are a little protective about what's going on with
us when we work. Other times the source material is just too painful or
private to discuss, and making and sharing the results of our coping with
those issues through art is part of our living process but we don't want to
go so far as literally reveal it. That might just be manners. I know some of
my work is about my mother going blind, but I can't talk about that or I'll
burst into tears (For example).