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Artist Statement Boot Camp

Artist Statement Boot Camp

Amy Wilson

If you’re applying for graduate school, you’ll have to write an artist’s statement. But how do you put your studio practice into words?

I recommend the following exercise to my undergraduates as a way to figure out what they need to include (and exclude). Divide a big, 18 × 24 inch piece of drawing paper, into six columns and label each with one of these words:

Does Your Self-Esteem Need a Makeover?

1. Pool party! How do you feel? :

Excited to check out hot bods
Freaked out
That's my worst nightmare

• Who?
• What?
• Where?
• Why?
• How?
• When?

Pretend you are a reporter trying to write a story about yourself:

• Who is this artist? What is their name, where do they come from and where do they live? What are the things that make up who they are as an artist?

• What do they make? Sculptures, drawings, videos? Are they narrative, performance-based, abstract, realist, or… etc? Are they large or small or pretty or aggressive or…?

• Where do they make their work? Must they be in a foundry or outside or in their studio? Or someplace else?

• Why do they make their work? Is there something in particular they are trying to express? Is there a certain line of inquiry they’re interested in?

• How? What methods are used to make the artist’s work? Is the work based on observation or on some other way of working?

• When? When does the artist make their work? Is it a daily ritual, something on the weekends, is more time necessary or is it already chock-full of art making, or….?

Set a timer for five minutes and then go! Try and fill in as much in each category – even if it’s just a word or phrase, that’s ok. And even if it’s something that to you seems silly or obvious, fill it in anyway. Just get as much information down on the sheet as possible. You can’t start out with too much. Keep going the full five minutes.

Next: What Makes an Artist Statement Interesting? →

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