Writing a New Artist Statement

Oh, artist statements.

I’ve written about my dislike of writing artist statements before. Writing about another’s work is easy, yet writing a one-page blurb about my own work is incredibly difficult.

As the creator of the work, it is easy to become infatuated by the small details, and miss the bigger picture. When looking at my work, the things I notice and really work on are very minute details. The larger ideas are things I’ve been working with for so long, I don’t even notice them any more. The old expression, “can’t see the forest for the trees” comes to mind.

There is a saying among artists that describes this feeling, “I’m too close to the work.”
When talking to fellow artists, we know exactly what this phrase means. I recently had the awkward experience of explaining that phrase to a non-artist. “It’s hard to see my work from a detached perspective because I spend so much time with it up close, I can’t think of it objectively”.

That’s when I had an idea, “If it’s easier to write about someone else’s work, why don’t I get someone else to write about my work?”.

I had a friend write a paragraph about my work, and it was brilliant. She got right to the core of my work, she saw what it was all about and expressed it very clearly. (well, ‘clearly’ if you are good with highly academic text.) I really like this statement, but I don’t quite feel comfortable using it. Anyone who reads this blog would notice that those aren’t my words.

I wanted my statement to have an authentic “Kyle voice”. I write in a certain way, and having bits and pieces of other people’s stuff thrown in just wouldn’t flow well. I’m not saying that I’m a good writer, for the most part, my writing is just inserting some rogue grammar between bullet points, turning a list into a paragraph. But still, that’s how I write, and I believe people will notice if someone else’s words appear in my sentences.

So, I took two or three of the sentences from what my friend wrote, and I unpacked them. I re-wrote the sentences, and combined them with some of the ideas I had included in a previous artist’s statement.

It took a month of writing and re-writing, and I’m still not fully happy with it. But I think it’s reached the point where I am better off shrugging, saying it’s “good enough”, and heading back into the studio, where I can get back to actually making the work I’ve spent so much time writing about.

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Kyle Clements

Kyle Clements is a Toronto-based artist and nerd. During his thesis at the Ontario College of Art and Design, Kyle began working on his Urban Landscapes series, a body of work that aims to capture the energy and excitement of life in the fast-paced urban environment. After graduating from OCAD in 2006, Kyle spent a year living in Asia to gather source material and experience in a different kind or urban environment. His work is vibrant and colourful. Whether painting the harsh Northern landscape, or capturing the overwhelming buzz of life in the city, his acrylic paintings hover between representation and abstraction.

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