This month, I set a goal to finally submit to the Fairbanks Arts Association portfolio review, with the hope of landing a show in the 2019 schedule at the Bear Gallery here in Fairbanks. I've meant to do it for years, and this time, I would make it happen.
Looking through the submission guidelines, everything seemed pretty simple. I needed a resume outlining my skills and show history, 5 to 10 pieces of art, and an artist statement.
It's one of the most dreaded parts of being an artist: writing about yourself.
I used to fancy myself a writer, and in high school there were a handful of stories that I was sure would be published one day. I've even helped friends write bios for their own shows, but if you ask me to write or talk about myself... I freeze.
I had a solo show in March of 2017 at The Hub, and needed to hang up a statement and bio, and the process turned into a very caffeinated me sitting on a couch for two weeks, surrounded by a swell of post-it-notes with bits and pieces, until I could synthesize something real from them. I managed to finish it up thanks to some fabulous and generous friends (Stevie, Lachlan, that thing wouldn't have happened without your help. You rock!)
That statement and bio needed a little love before I hit the "submit" button. My motivations have shifted slightly sense March, and I've been challenged in conversations with my partner to examine why it is I'm drawn to the subject matter that I've been playing with.
Today I finally polished up my statement, and (gulp) hit that "submit" button. There's a whole slough of fearful thoughts running around my head right now (no matter how many times I do it, putting my work out there is always challenges my resolve). I'm relieved to have it done and out in the world.
Now, without further delay, my updated artist's statement:
There are new phrases I’ve begun to throw around when talking about my paintings: “death positive”, “vulture culture”, “natural curiosities” and “whimsically morbid”. What it really comes down to, for me, is a sense of wonder at the beauty that is tied to death and the strange: the graceful forms of bones, the pride at smacking a pest away, and the intense following of macabre productions like Dark Shadows and the Addams Family. I have a respect for these forms and inclinations, and use my work to celebrate and explore them.
I start by painting every canvas a garish shade of orange—it’s my favorite colour to cover up. I work at blocking in areas and pulling out highlights with white paint, playing with colour and flirting with negative space until I begin to flesh out a composition that feels right. For me, painting is a process of revealing images that already exist. I’m always adjusting and learning from my process. I don’t fully plan my pieces, but start with an idea or a feeling. Some pieces are a reflection of the things I collect, or wish I could. Others are an attempt to further reveal the ramblings that happen in my sketchbook, although no thumbnail sketches will prepare me for what I will find once I start painting. The result is a growing collection of my experiences, natural curiosities and oddments archived on canvas.