Friday, May 21, 2010

Artist's Statement

We are applying for a certain sort of proposed artists' community housing and part of the application requires an "Artist's Statement," a sort of self definition or manifesto. This is the first version I've written for it. For its intended purpose I may end up toning it down.

I have attempted such statements before and it can be, at best a sort of work of art about one’s experience of works of art.


Just today talking Art with my actress/artist daughter I said “It’s central to our identity that our spirituality is a material thing.” There is stuff we use to make art with that fills my heart with Love.

MEDIA 1: Graphite is a two-dimensional crystal. It’s sheets of crystal one molecule thick. That’s why it’s so smooth in application, the layers of carbon sliding off. It’s a magic so ordinary, so familiar, not an exotic romance, but a love like the way one loves one’s mother.

MEDIA 2: The art material that I take the most sensual delight in is heavy watercolor paper. Cellulose is extraordinary stuff. There’s no limit to how long a molecule can be. I’m told that there will occur in nature molecules of cellulose a quarter-inch long. It’s wonderfully pure, stable and strong. (Only God can make a tree.

MEDIA 3. The best watercolor brushes are made from the tails of a small mammal. The best binder is a tree gum. Some of the best and most stable pigments are made from colored clay and charcoal. Probably the Paleolithic cave painters used such a brush, such a binder and such pigments. I love that thought of that brotherhood.

MEDIA 4: The tools that I best use are knives, small knives. I try to remember in affectionate thanks the countless generations of my brothers whose work eventually produced steel. Most of our ancestors would see immediately what magic it is.


We’re gifted, not necessarily with talent but especially so in the inclination to and courage for making Love into actual physical objects. The most absolute identity that artworks have is that they are transitive. They are Verbs with an Object. If none perceive what I make, it does not exist.

All persons are meant to be givers. Possibly many people are better givers than artists are and we are making up for an ungenerous manner by being artists. At least for me it is a way out of the loneliness of the castle of my flesh.

We think often of the satisfactions of praise of our art. Sure, people want to be loved. More than that, though, I think the Art Impulse is the Impulse to Love.


It is impossible for most of us to talk about the spiritual without sounding silly. All I can say here is that my art asserts and is in service to an eventual and complete Oneness that is all Being. I would say it was Love, but then I would really sound silly.

All worthwhile art is directed at increasing our consciousness.


I want to move the class of objects I have been making lately into jewelry. I would love to design the crowns for Oberon and Titania of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” I would like to low relief form the walls of an entire room, or even whole house. I would like to try egg tempura again. I would like to design earthworks. I would like to print upon fabric. I would like to not have to sell, but be able to give what I make away.

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