Writing & Talking about Art... art21 and 100 Artists of Washington, DC


If you're new to writing artist statements or talking about your work, or if you want to refine what you've already got, these two resources may help... plus you'll learn more about artists in the process.

Stephen and I came late to this party but have been enjoying catching up on watching art21: Art in the Twenty-First Century from PBS in which artists talk about their work, process, influences, past, present, future... And we were struck during the same episode, almost at the same time, by how differently men and women tend to talk about their work, with women often looking inward, following the personal first, then bringing it outward. Maya Lin was the exception. It'll be interesting to see if this holds true as we move through the series. (On a side note, Stephen and I are working on a proposal for a two-person show called He Said/She Said that will present our different ways of tackling stuff - mark-making, titles, composition, etc. - and I wonder how much of the male/female stereotypes will hold up.)

The feature on Michael Ray Charles is my favorite so far.  His studio is in his home, and the video showed him with his family as he talked about his work. A familiar scene here at the Boocks house.

On a related note, 100 Artists of Washington, DC from Lenny Campello is now out. The Metro DC area has such a vibrant art scene, and this new book captures the diversity of both established and emerging artists from the area or working in this area and beyond. Whether you want to know more about the DC area scene, or use it as a tool to start or build your collection, this is an essential text. But I also recommend it for artists new to assembling a portfolio or writing or talking about their work. Consider how the work depicted supports the narrative. If you could have the same amount of pieces represent what you do, what would they be?

And take this a step further... What is your "elevator speech" - when you say to someone new that you're an artist, and they ask, What do you do?, what is your quick reply (with a visual like a business card or postcard) that gets right to what you do and why it's worth a second look from them?

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