How the Museum Used the Statement
How the museum uses the statement is also important. In my case, they presented it in catalog text, which provided a way to talk about the work that had some humor, and also explained that the work is about changing the way we feel and how we function. You can see from this example how a curator uses and interprets a statement for their own reasons. This is why it is important to have a piece of writing they can draw from.
The Application Process
Statements also help with your applications. They are often necessary when submitting images to a juried show or for a prize, though in this case, their function is slightly different. Here’s how a jury works, in case you’ve ever wondered. First, all the artist’s work is organized in a projected display that the jury views in a dark room. Generally, there is a moderator in charge of organizing the images and identifying the artist to the jury.
The Jury Waits for You
Before the next artist’s images are projected, the moderator hands out copies of the artist’s application to the jury and verbally introduces the artist, saying something like, “The next artist is X, and I will read his/her statement.” Then the moderator reads the artist’s statement. This is an important scene to visualize and understand because at this moment the jury isn’t looking at the images yet and will be solely focused on the statement. After hearing the statement, the jury will already have a preconceived notion about what they are going to see, and a bias for or against that artist. That is how powerful the statement is in juries.
Your Statement is 90 Percent of the Excitement
Where juries are concerned, it may be better to have no statement at all instead of a mediocre one that risks making a bad first impression. After your statement is read, you want them to feel excited to see your work, not confused about what your art is. Therefore, your statement should be very clear and enticing, the same way the beginning of a good article or book will draw in the reader. If you can elicit a feeling of, “Wow, that sounds beautiful,” or, “That sounds scary and intense, I hope I can handle it!,” you’ve done a good job. You are simply trying to get them to look forward to your images.
To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here. To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.