Artist Statements

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ARTIST STATEMENTS may appear on gallery walls next to an artist’s collection of work, inside program guides, as the film credits roll, etc. These brief messages provide helpful background information to the audience, giving artists a chance to discuss the context in which they created the piece.

Artist Statements are different from a project synopsis or description. A project synopsis is needed for a festival submission, whereas an artist statement will enhance the exhibition and provide depth and meaning to an overall program book, brochure, museum space or whatever the presentation or exhibition requires.

With an Artist Statement, artists can direct viewers to focus on something in particular in their work. They may also provide needed insight or challenge the audience in some way.

The act of writing the Artist Statement is valuable in itself. In order to decide what they want to say, the youth artist must process and reflect on their media-making experience. Crafting an Artist Statement, as part of exhibition and outreach efforts, culminates young people’s creative journey and furthers their development as artists.

By asking youth to draft artist statements, you are:

  • Treating youth as professional artists
  • Respecting their creative process and encouraging them to be more thoughtful and reflective of their own process as well
  • Providing another meaningful way in which young people can connect with their audiences
  • Demonstrating an artistic practice that is also good reflective educational practice

TIPS AND PROMPTS FOR DEVELOPING ARTIST STATEMENTS

Support artists and production teams in composing artist statements to go along with their media work. Beyond their name and the title of their work, they should write something reflective – shedding light on who they are and the uniqueness of their voice.

Try using any of the following prompts:

Do you consider yourself an artist? A filmmaker? Can you explain why? Do you think it is important for young people like yourself to make media? Why?

What interests you in the world? Who or what inspires you? What makes your perspective a little different, i.e., Where do you come from?

How do you see things? How is your media project different from pieces made by adults?

Why did you choose this subject/person/topic to focus on? What techniques did you use? Why? How did you come to make some of the artistic choices?

What do you think stands out in this media piece? What do you want others to see? What do you want others to feel, understand, or change as a result of watching this piece? What did you learn, what did you gain from the experience of making the work?

Encourage youth to write down their thoughts on their own before getting into a discussion with others in the group. This way, responses are genuinely their own reflections about their work.

Note that if the media project is a collaborative work, the artists should ultimately come together to generate a collective statement that reflects the views of the group. Give them time to share their individual reflections and negotiate with each other to arrive at consensus on the group artist statement.

The Artist Statement Worksheet is designed to help youth artists think through different aspects of their creative process. After they generate an initial draft, they can share what they’ve written with peers and make edits as they wish. The other participants serve as a test audience for their artist statement, giving them the opportunity to revise and clarify their message – so that what comes across is truly what they meant to say.

© 2013 Adobe Foundation / Education Development Center, Inc.