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Your Artist's Statement
I know a lot of people who read this newsletter are artists. Yes, this post is for you. And I know a lot of people who read this newsletter don’t think of themselves as artists at all. Yes, this post is for you too.
Today’s exercise requires time, so make yourself a cup of tea and settle in.
Let’s begin by reflecting on your experience with these newsletters over the last month. I know all of you did not do every prompt (I can see!), but think about the ones you did do, and what came up. Write down some thoughts.
Did any of these have something in common?
What exercises did you find most fun?
What exercises did you find most interesting, and why?
What type of thing do you like creating? In which medium?
What questions are you interested in exploring (in life, or art)?
What do you feel compelled to continue doing?
What early artistic experience inspired you?
What kind of art / artists inspire you today?
How is writing or art connected to what is happening in your world—your inner and outer world?
How can a deeper practice of art or writing feed into a practice of conscious living?
Once you’re done thinking and making notes, we’re going to craft an artist’s statement using Andrew Simonet’s guidelines in his wonderful free booklet: Making Your Life as an Artist. Check it out.
First, say something about what kind of art you make. What medium, what style etc.
(e.g. I write memoir)
Then say why. Why is it important to you?
(e.g. Writing memoir helps me understand myself, my past, the metaphors of my life)
Then say why it’s important on a bigger level. Why might other people connect to it? Why does it matter?
(e.g. Telling my story is empowering for other people who have had similar experiences. And if I don’t use my voice, no one will know my particular story.)
This is just a guideline, in the end, you can craft your statement in whichever way you like. It’s important to remember that this is not about a career, awards, publication or external factors, but what drives you internally.
Here is an example of an artist’s statement from Simonet’s booklet:
I lived in 21 different houses before I turned 18, in the richest and second-poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. I have friends in Honduras who live twenty miles from the ocean but will never see it, and friends in the US who will never learn how to cook beans. In Honduras, I saw the disparity of opportunities given to me and to my Honduran friends. And in California, I saw the emptiness of the material wealth Honduran villagers dreamed of. When I see a boundary, I try to cross it. Groups that don’t speak to each other. Histories that have been paved over. Literally. I discovered train tracks outside a gallery in Philadelphia, and built a train car, to resurrect for a night the erased industrial history of North Philadelphia. I provoke local rituals of remembering and delight, in a culture that has forgotten how to mourn. You are not alone. You are not the first. To be hated or excluded. To hate or exclude. Artistic practice matters when it connects us, when it makes us hesitant to kill each other. — Jeb Lewis
How was that for you? What did you come up with? Remember that what you write can always be honed, changed, and developed over time. Nothing is set in stone.