artist’s statement

February 22, 2022

It happens quite often, that I am drawn to a piece of art, one that I want to share here, but that I don’t because the artist’s statement gets in the way. What was a very pure and instinctive response becomes blurred with concepts too heady for me to digest, let alone write about. It was refreshing today to read ceramicist, Elisabeth Rollmann speaking about her work in a way that made it feel both original and accessible. “My work is about pattern, colour and surface quality in ceramic glazes. It is unapologetic aesthetic. There is no deeper meaning or concept.” Which leads me to ask, must there always be a deeper meaning or concept? Does the pressure to create a meaningful narrative around the work sometimes alienate people from it? Maybe I’m just not that clever. Or maybe there are too many artists out there who feel that they have to sound clever to be in the club. At the Shary Boyle exhibition currently on at The Gardiner Museum it struck me as interesting that the artist omitted any accompanying text alongside her surreal and outlandish sculptures. Each one is loaded with meaning, but it’s up to us to decide what that meaning is.


  • Diane

    Oh boy — thank you for this. I have felt the same way about artist statements for so long. But perhaps not brave enough to come out and say so. There doesn’t always have to be a deeper meaning or even a concept. I agree with Rollman’s statements. I make art in different ways but am flummoxed when asked to create my artist’s statement. The problem is, my art — in any of its forms — is something that comes from what appeals to me aesthetically. It’s not always ‘beautiful’ but it appeals in some way. No deep meaning. Just something that I love.

    • athena

      Thank you for your note, Diane. I think the accompanying words should enhance our experience of a piece, rather than alienate us from it.The more heady the statement, the less I connect with it. I hope you are keeping well. I love peonies, too. Not long ’till we see them in bloom!

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