Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on an artist statement for this new “Falling & Shaking” project. This is unusual for me to start a project by working on the artist statement. In the past, I would save writing the artist statement for later so I could get some distance on the content and works themselves. This time around I’m reversing the process by working through the content and developing the project from there.
The personal nature of this artist statement was the most challenging aspect of this process. I’m acutely aware of the potential to come across as self-indulgent and as fishing for sympathy. I’ve certainly seen artists take this approach with personal subject matter and the results are usually embarrassing, forced, pretentious, and everything in between. I’ve tried to keep the statement more factual to avoid these possible pitfalls. One artist statement that influenced my approach is by my colleague and former professor Tony Janello, who teaches in the Illustration Department at RISD with me. The directness in his statement is refreshing, genuine, and brutally honest and real. You can read Tony’s artist statement here.
Below is a working version of the artist statement. I wrote the statement first and then asked my friend Jennifer Sperry to edit the statement. Jen has worked as a freelance writer and editor for several magazines and publications and does a great job of lending the appropriate tone to written passages. I’m certain the statement will continue to evolve as I develop this project, but it’s important to me to write something now to get things started. Compared to my past statements, the language here is much more straightforward and to the point.
My work is a visualization of personal experience with depression. The condition brought on frequent episodes where I felt emotionally and physically out of control. Unable to “release” myself from these episodes, I waited for the physical limitations of my body to end them. Recounting the affected years, I realize how accustomed I became to depression’s influence; many emotions and feelings belonged to it and not my own personality. After an extended, untreated struggle, a diagnosis brought relief, and the process of unearthing myself from the disease began.
(above) A quick gesture drawing which starts to seek out where this project could go visually.