A few years ago, I needed a very brief artist statement for a photography show I was doing. When I have the freedom to be generous with them, words come easily to me, but when I have to be concise and cut my words down to just a few, I will often labor over them for hours, walking the halls and panting through each new set of contractions until I have given birth to something that I can be satisfied with. When I sat down to write this artist's statement, however, the words just popped into my head. I thought the process had been far too easy and I nearly threw them away, but the more I read over them, the more they worked for me.
Years later, as I now prepare for another big show next month, the same words are still working for me. Of course, they must be followed with a brief summary of my personal and professional background and history, but these are the opening lines:
I am a seeker of beauty and truth. Beauty is not always truthful, nor is truth always a thing of beauty. When I see the two meet, however, I strive to fill my frame with them, for in the joining of beauty and truth, there is art.
An artist friend of mine, another local photographer, is holding a preview party tonight at her studio to introduce her friends and family to her new show. Wednesday night, at a meeting of our local artists' guild, she told me about her new show. She is normally so confident about her work, but listening to her this time, she sounded almost insecure, hesitant, nervous. It's very personal this time, she kept telling me. It tells the story of who I am, where I've come from and how I view the world. I feel like, by showing this collection, I'm really putting myself out there, exposing myself. I'm not sure how people will react. She went on to tell me about the bits of her own poetry and excerpts from journal entries that she has included in the pieces. They are apparently layered creations, collages that include photos, notes, historic documents--layered in heavy texture, built up bit by bit on the canvases. I got excited and told her how I am such a word person myself and like words just as much as images. She lit up and told me more. We talked for a very long time. I can't wait to see her show tonight. She is sharing her heart.
That's what I want to do with my art, with my writing, with my life. I want to share my heart. My heart seeks after beauty and truth and I want to share what I've found, be it image, written word or even spoken word. I want to reflect beauty and truth to the world around me.
I am reading The Lost Continent, by Bill Bryson right now, one of a series of travel memoir books from which I am gleaning inspiration as I work on my own travel memoir book from this recent trip around the country I took with my family. Bill Bryson is witty and clever, yes, but he is also so cynical. The lack of beauty and truth in his life shows clearly in his dark sarcasm and sense of dissatisfaction in everything he sees. It's so sad, honestly. I like to be witty and clever, but I want my work to bring beauty and truth to others.
I know I'm getting redundant here. It's just that I feel so strongly about this right now.
I believe that God is the author/artist/creator of all that is beautiful and truthful. He IS beauty. He IS truth. The things we see, read, or experience can be beautiFUL, or truthFUL only because they retain a bit of their maker's mark. They contain bits of real beauty and truth--and we KNOW it. They are easy to spot for those who will look.
I'll let you know what I find.