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Month: January, 2012

Artist Statements


http://www.kehindewiley.com/main.html (Click “bio” and it will take you to his artist statement)

An artist statement is important. It both informs the audience about your art and has the power to transform their perception of you as an artist (Is there substance behind your work? Are you intelligent and articulate? Should the audience be interested in what you have to say?) It is important, however, to make sure that your art speaks for you–you don’t want to bash anyone over the head with your artist statement–it isn’t necessarily an appropriate place to air grievances or freak out about the state of the world. Let the art do that for you.

Although I like the art of both Robert Shetterly and Kehinde Wiley, I think Wiley’s artist statement is vastly superior. Shetterly preaches at his audience, while Wiley gives some context to his art to help people think about it themselves. I appreciate Shetterly’s honesty about his own self-reflection but I think it makes you focus too much on him and his thought process as opposed to the people represented in his portraits and different ways of thinking about their messages and the way that their messages have been received by the nation. Wiley’s statement talks much less about his own feelings toward his subjects and helps the audience connect with them on a more personal level themselves. Shetterley’s statement simplifies the issues he is dealing with in his portraits and Wiley’s acknowledges their complexity.


My Art’s Extended Family


Brother Robert Lentz

Br. Lentz creates contemporary religious icons in the Catholic tradition. I have noticed his work displayed in chapels and churches since I was in high school–since I was raised Catholic, there were often religious icons around. Lentz’s ability to mesh the old Orthodox style of icon with modern (or modernized) subject matter is something that I appreciate. Lentz uses the form of icons to depict people who are not explicitly connected with the church–who are not saints or even necessarily christians. Lentz’s paintings are connected to the work I would like to make because he uses iconography to highlight well-known people who he believes have been instrumental to spreading God’s love, and I would like to use iconography to depict people who are not well-known or religious figures but who we use as personal role models in our lives. His style is more traditional than I think mine will be.

Kehinde Wiley

Wiley portrays young black men in contexts that call into question their role in society and their place in history. Through using art history references to western “masterpieces” and changing the figure, the meaning and value of both the artwork being referenced and the figure are called to attention. I first saw a Wiley piece in person at 21c, a museum and hotel  in Louisville. At first I was just taken with the skill that Wiley shows in his work but then I began to learn more about the stories behind his portraits. His work elevates everyday people who may be undervalued and puts them in the spotlight of the art world. Some of his work references religious images. I think my work will similarly focus on putting everyday people in an elevated context, but while he uses references to western art, I will be using references to religious iconography.

 Robert Shetterly

When I was in high school, I found out about Shetterly’s series of paintings called “Americans Who Tell the Truth.” Shetterly paints people who he thinks are national heroes–some famous and some not–and expresses their ideas through quotes included in the portrait. I don’t foresee myself using text in my work, but I think that I will try to illustrate people’s core values or beliefs in my work this semester. The color palette is also in line with what I like–saturated and earthy.