When I tell people that I’m an artist I usually get hit with a “Cool--what kind of art do you do?” It’s a well-meaning question designed to express interest, but it always triggers a mental eye roll on my part. Before I clumsily attempt to answer, I think to myself: the point of being an artist is having the luxury to communicate visually rather than verbally. To show, rather than tell. It’s not that I can’t see the value articulating my art. I even enjoy talking about what I paint and why. But to understand the kind of artist I am, and the kind of work I create, you have to see it for yourself.
I’ve spent the last month agonizing over the written materials for MFA applications. I’ve wondered: if a picture is worth 1,000 words, than why are MFA statements of purpose only 500? I’ve been trying to distill this life-long, complex, and deeply personal relationship with creating into a succinct, professional summary. And while I think I’ve managed to get something moderately impressive down on paper, I’m now left to wait, and wonder if it’s good enough.
I write about my art in fits and starts. The blog portion of my website often goes long periods without being updated, something which I often feel guilty about. It’s my art. I should be able to eloquently write about it. I should be able to explain myself. But I think I’ve finally begun to understand why it is so hard for me to explain my art in words. I’m thinking all the damn time! I also work alone, from my studio at home. My thoughts therefore, usually end up reverberating around my own head. The only time they stop is when I’m painting. Painting, sketching, lurking around with my camera is when I cease to think and instead get to feel. And that’s the goal of art really. In essence art is to feel and to make other people feel.
So I suppose my whole point here is that yes, art takes thought. It takes ideas and intellect, and rigorous research. It says a lot and you can say a lot about it. But it’s also meant to be seen, felt, and taken in at a much deeper level than simply being ingested and intellectualized. So the next time someone asks me what kind of art I make, I’m simply going to reply “See for yourself.”