Writing an Artist Statement...eek!

So, on Friday my work will be exhibited in my first gallery show ever (!) at New Urban Arts. They are putting together a showcase of all of the Artist Mentors' work, and to celebrate the fact that they are officially one of the top 15 youth arts programs in the country (as declared by Michelle Obama last week!).

I've gone back and forth in choosing what I should show. Should I make something new? Should I hurry up and finish that quilt? What of mine would look good on a wall? I understand how the photography mentor and watercolor mentor will exhibit their work, but am I just going to hang a bag on the wall? My work is meant to be used and worn, not necessarily hung up.

{ travel tissue holders...sniff sniff! }

Okay, I'll say it: I'm a little intimidated by the other artist mentors. Since I'm new to being an artist (or at least calling myself one) and sharing my creative work, I feel very much like I don't know what I'm doing, or that any moment someone is going to jump out and say "Ha! You're not a real artist! You're just faking it!" I think is part of that whole thing Adj and I are struggling with in allowing ourselves to call ourselves artists. Am I good enough? Does my work belong with theirs? What does it mean to be an "artist," anyway?

After torturing myself with questions and talking with a few students and friends, I've realized that there are no rules for this exhibition - my assignment is to introduce my creative practice or how I practice being creative to the community. It should be anything that feels natural to me and my work. I need to quit worrying about whether I'm good enough, whether I fit in, and just be myself. It's so obvious, but such a difficult thing. This whole situation made me think of when I started as a freshman in college. I walked around campus for at least the first two months feeling like I didn't belong - "But these people are so smart! They're Brown students!" I decided to take a writing class to try to get up to speed with everyone else. About three months into that class, I realized that everyone else in my section were jocks, and that I was a fine writer. In fact, it's one of my better skills. I just needed to trust in myself. Not so easy.

{ hair clips }

So, I've decided to show some things that I've already made, and that I already use, since that's a big part of my work - useable stuff. I'll show a bag, an apron, coin purse, fused plastic wallet, and earrings. Phew. Okay, done. Choice made.

My next task is to write an artist statement. I've never had to do this before, and it feels both funny and natural at the same time. "Artist statement." Doesn't that sound pretentious? Adj said that it's just all the things that we're usually thinking about all the time. Really, I'm always reflecting on the "why" behind my work. So I just started making a list:

I like transforming common objects, trash, whatever I have around me – plastic bags, milk cartons, old wallpaper, my boyfriend’s worn-out pair of jeans, grandma’s box of buttons, fabric scraps – into completely new things.
I like to make things that I can use and things that I can wear.
I like using vintage-y fabric.
I like when you can see the thread.
I like the process of figuring out the order of steps I need to go through to make my pattern come out the way I envisioned.
I like it when it doesn’t come out the way I envisioned, but instead surprises me as something a little different.
I like it when my sewing machine, “Silas”, behaves (which is most of the time).
I like it when hand-sewing doesn’t take too long, because sometimes I’m not very patient.
I like it when people come over to my house to be crafty with me – I think creating is both more fun and easier when it’s done as part of a community.
I like not making too many of any one thing, because I think it’s boring and I start feeling like a robot.
I like thinking about the things that my grandmother and my mother have crafted, and the fact that they’ve taught me so much about sewing.

I think that kind of sums it up. Any feedback? I welcome your comments! And if you're in the Providence area, I welcome you to the opening on Friday from 4-7 at New Urban Arts, 743 Westminster Street!

Carole Ann


  1. Hey Carole Ann! Thanks for posting this - I think the envision/process/result points you touched on are fascinating, and that element of chance and discovery plays a big part in who you are as an artist - by working in many different mediums, or "craft forms", ideas and discoveries from one project you are working on can consciously and often times subconsciously feed into a completely different project. Really excited for you and your opening! I was really inspired by your Art & Patience post also and would like to talk to you more about some of the things you mentioned (I was talking to Jon about a lot of the same things over the weekend) - let's make a lunch date soon and talk about art more!

  2. I think you should run with the anti robot mind set. Way back when the industrial revolution was just getting started, the arts and crafts movement was about making things the way people made them, in small amounts with nuanced style, as opposed to the mass produced and consistent way that machines built things. It's a good contrast really.
    Hope that helps.

  3. hooray for a mention on oneprettything! i want to come down and craft with you soon - what's your schedule for the weekend?

  4. awesome! I love your statement and especially its format :)
    sorry I won't be able to be there at NUA today, have an awesome time!

  5. You did a great job tonight! I really loved your artist statement too, especially the parts about your mom and grandmother. So special :) You rock lady!


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