Saturday, April 17, 2010
Powder room. First visit to the home of a delightful couple. Dinner party. Opportunity to get to know one other. Powder room: tastefully decorated, little shelves lined with hedgehog collection, and a bathroom guest book. How delightful! I sign - of course.
Post dinner party. Apologetic phone call is necessary to explain why I signed as I did in said bathroom guest book.
While traveling around England with my parents many years ago, I signed Hugh Jarse into every sign-in book I could get my fingers on. After a week or so of doing this, while in one particularly large, quite, somber, ancient church, my mother was signing in after me and read my signature:
"Hugh Jarse? Hugh Jarse!? Who the heck is Hugh Jarse?!" She exclaimed out loud (and rather loudly), attracting the disdainful stares of two old ladies lighting candles nearby. Suddenly my mother realized what she was saying! Very funny moment - gave us many years of rolling-about-laughter.
Why am I telling you this? Well, being an artist, I strive to explain my thoughts, musings and passions, using my marks, colours and materials. And then, because artists need artist statements, I search for the words to explain - Why these marks? Why these colours? Why this particular subject matter? And why does it matter?
Recently, we, of SEVEN, challenged ourselves to pare down our artist statements to 30 words each. If you'd like to try this, here's how I met this challenge:
Take 1,000 (or more) soul-searching, heart-pouring, here-is-my-inner-being-laid-bare-for-all-to-examine, words
Question each paragraph. Combine paragraphs that have similar meanings
Question each sentence. Combine sentences that have similar meanings
Get rid of all redundancy.
Analize every word in your statement, using a thesaurus, to apply the most meaning, the most impact, the most power to your statement.
Now read it to select individuals and ask them to tell you what they understood from it.
Rewrite as needed.
And voila! You have a clear, suscinct, powerful, direct explanation of what you're doing and why. Very useful for verbose artists, confused artists, and non-artists at dinner parties, gallery openings and when your grandmother asks why you don't have a real job.
So, why did I choose to sign Hugh Jarse in the bathroom guestbook after all these years? Well, the dinner party hosts gave us the grand tour, highlighting furnishings that had belonged to her mother. Got me thinking about my mother and her furnishings and when I saw the bathroom guest book – well! My mother had one in her bathroom! In one sentimental moment, it became quite clear to me what I would do to honour my mom.
There's just so much inside ourselves that is meaningless to others unless we can properly communicate it.