I have a post up over at Art Jewelry Elements today about the experience of creating and submitting pieces to my first juried gallery show – it was terrifying and frustrating and rewarding all at once, and I hope you’ll go read it!
Among other things, I had to write an artist’s statement about how I approach my work. “I like banging on metal and making pretty things” wasn’t what they were looking for, so I had to do some deeper thinking and praying about why making jewelry is important to me. It was an interesting process – because the truth is I’d never really done the work of figuring out what influences were at work in my pieces or what I was trying to accomplish. I knew it wasn’t merely a desire to make saleable pieces – there are a zillion people out there doing that – but I just hadn’t gone any further in my examination of myself.
So after an entire afternoon of writing and erasing and cursing and walking away and coming back and laughing at myself, I finally came up with something I think really represents my current thinking about the direction of my work.
For many women, the process of ornamentation carries with it a fear of inadequacy, of being “not enough” or “too much,” of not measuring up to expectations – their own or someone else’s. Yet almost every woman I know has encountered a single piece of jewelry that at one time or another made her feel beautiful, or elegant, or powerful, something outside of any cultural definition of “acceptable” beauty or grace, something that transformed how she felt about herself the moment she first put it on. Each one of my pieces is intended to create an opportunity for that moment of recognition, to speak to the one woman who will see herself reflected in the work, perhaps in a way she never expected or encountered before. My hope is that in that encounter, she will feel unique and valuable and known.
My work is rarely the result of any disciplined or structured design process. Rather, it is sparked by some one point of inspiration – color, shape, visual texture – and the design evolves out of the problem-solving process that takes the inspiration to the point of wearability. This means that my pieces are generally one-of-a-kind or several related pieces in a series that explores similar technical challenges.
As painful as this was to write, in the end I am really happy with it. It’s honest, and it sounds like me, and it really is what I hope for each of my pieces as it heads out into the world.
What about you? Have you ever had to write an artist’s statement? What did you think?