How to Write an Artist's Statement for an Exhibition

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An artist's statement gives visitors to an exhibition some insight into the artist's purpose for creating the art. The artist also tells about the tools and methods she used, as well as the things that influenced her art. An artist's statement is not a resume or biography. It is usually only a few paragraphs long.

A well-written artist statement encourages readers to visit the art exhibition and to reflect upon the elements discussed in the statement. Use these steps to identify the high points to include in your statement.

Write in a clear, declarative manner. Consider your intended audience when writing your statement. If the statement is intended primarily for the benefit of a museum curator or gallery director, your language might contain technical language and be more formal than a statement that will be primarily read by the public. Your writing should be grammatically correct and free of spelling errors.

Identify the main theme of your exhibit and explain why you chose to explore this subject in your art. For example, if you paint city scenes, explain what draws you to this subject and what you want to convey about those scenes. If your art is motivated by a concern, such as an environmental issue, use your statement to share how your art addresses that issue. Avoid over-explaining your work, though. Viewers like to draw their own conclusions from art.

Write about your artistic process, giving the reader an idea of the basic steps you take to complete a piece. The artist statement is not the place for detailed teaching about your methods. Use descriptive and active terms to provide an overview. Include a sentence or two about the materials and techniques you used and why you chose them. For example, if you applied oil paint to a board with a palette knife, you might explain that you chose this method to achieve dramatic textures and sharp edges.

Acknowledge the influences on your art. Your exhibit demonstrates your style and everything you have learnt to this point. Reflect on whether your art is influenced by a particular artistic movement, such as Impressionism, or by particular artists you have studied. Being able to address these matters helps the viewer see your work in a larger context and to understand the direction you are going with your work. While the purpose of a statement is not biographical, if there is a significant event or place in your life that influenced your art exhibit, this detail should be mentioned.

Avoid making broad philosophical statements or generalisation about art. Instead, keep the reader's attention on the art in the exhibit they are viewing. Incorporate the title of one or two pieces into your artist statement and indicate a technique or influence they can spot in those artworks. Your artist statement should inform readers and enhance their appreciation of your art exhibit.