Artist Statements: Context, Content & Conversations

Submitted by Amanda Meeks on July 19th, 2018
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Short Description: 

Art and design students are almost always asked to write about their work, in the form of an artists’ statement, at some point in their academic career. This is a skill that is crucial as they move from student to professional or practicing artist because it gives them the opportunity to reflect on their work, share concepts and develop their authority in their field, and, very importantly, discuss how their work builds on the work of others who share similar themes and/or processes. These descriptive texts provide additional context, insight, evidence, and background details that are otherwise difficult for viewers to identify or understand. This lesson describes the process linking the creative process to the research process for visual and fine art disciplines in order to articulate sources of inspiration, identify themes, and provide context for an intended audience. Pop culture is an accessible topic that most students will have some familiarity with, and so the lesson focuses on contemporary and pop artists who draw from several sources to create their bodies of work.

Learning Outcomes: 

Students will collaboratively research and mind map the work of one artist to identify the ways in which this artist is influenced by other art, disciplines outside of art, and contemporary issues, and culture. Students will consider and articulate who their work is in conversation with (other artists, theorists, etc.) and how they are building on the contributions others have made. Students will generate a mind map of themes, artists, and influences that pertain to their body of work in order to begin researching each one more thoroughly. Students will use further research to contextualize their body of work within cultural, social, artistic, and discipline-specific histories and contemporary practices/movements.

Information Literacy concepts: 
Individual or Group: 
Course Context (e.g. how it was implemented or integrated): 

I've used this with upper level/graduate photography and printmaking students, but could be applied to many disciplines.

Potential Pitfalls and Teaching Tips: 

Consider the artists you use as your example. I use Beyonce and Janelle Monae because most of my students are familiar with them on some level. If they were not familiar this lesson may be less effective and students would be less engaged.

Suggested Citation: 
Meeks, Amanda. "Artist Statements: Context, Content & Conversations." CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), 2018.