From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Why would an artist write? (Introduction)

with 4 comments

May 20, 2009

I am a contemporary artist working in San Francisco. I began this blog for three reasons.  Firstly I miss writing as a tool for focusing the mind.  Writing not just to ruminate, but to pierce and bind together layers of ideas.

The second is that I love to make process visible.  How an artist thinks about her work, how she approaches it day to day, and how the ideas flow is the ultimate exposition of process. Some things are for behind the scenes, of course- but then don’t we all love backstage tours?  This then, is for peeks at the backstage.  I won’t be showing you everything.  There are periods within process where even voicing it has the potential to shatter.

Years ago I attended a talk by a prominent critic who he said that it was not the artist’s job to explain their art or put it into context.  He asserted that they were not qualified and had best shut it before they hurt themselves.  That was his job.   This notion may well keep him in tea and sugar, but I feel it takes away from the artist.  Not every artist is a great speaker or writer, and for some the art they produce is more emotional than intellectual.  Still, even those artists should able to say as much.

A conceptual artist on the other hand must be able to discuss meaning and context outside of the artwork or she is engaged in a game of the Emperor’s New Clothes, where value is made up by those surrounding her and there is no actual substance.  In conceptual work the concept is the actual substance.  If that is missing all you really have is a stack of sugar cubes or similar.

The third reason I am writing here is that I miss seeing the artist.  We all know something about the lives of certain past artists- Picasso certainly.  He was a media personality. Is here anything like that now?  Have artists suddenly become boring people?  No.  It seems as though even the most famous artists have become increasingly invisible to the public (who often remember Picasso but aren’t really sure who is working now).  Perhaps today’s artists are hidden by layers of critics and curators.  Or perhaps our niche in the media has been filled with the misdemeanors of child starlets and similar.

Can the art be separated from the artist?  How can we talk about art without process, and how do we understand process without knowing about the lives of people who create?

So here I am stepping into the light.  You will see some stream-of-consciousness posts about process, and some essays on art and the art world.  Welcome.

Written by Mary Corey March

April 28, 2009 at 11:11 pm

4 Responses

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  1. “Is here anything like that now?”

    Popular culture used to include much more than is now the case. I keep thinking of the Tonight Show as reflecting this change. When I was young Gore Vidal, William F. Buckley, Itzak Perlman, Miles Davis, Beverly Sills, et al would be guests on the Tonight Show as well as the array of television, movie and rock stars, comedians and politicians etc… that make up the more recent guest lists. One may recall that when Leno took over the Tonight Show the band was not only lead by a jazz musician (Brandford Marsalis), but played jazz! That may have been the last gasp of high culture on late night talk shows.

    When I was growing up, Classical music often accompanied cartoons and commercials. even in households wherein the parents may not have been Classical music fans, the music was heard. This is no longer the case.

    The change is not that the line between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture has disappeared, but that anything that is not mass culture has been eliminated from the general vista.

    There is no living artist of the general fame of Picasso because our current general culture no longer considers such people of interest or value.

    Jim Richard Wilson

    August 19, 2010 at 11:18 pm

  2. I think part of it is advertisers filling every vacuum they can, but I think there’s some blame in the art world too- it may be that art has gotten too exclusive and inaccessible to the general public… which is why I’m on about these new collaborative projects that are so excessive. I think people have started to think of it as either archaic or too far out. The Impressionists seem to have hit some sweet spot and so get the glory of the umbrellas, mugs and wall calendars.

    On a side note, I’m absolutely showing my daughter Looney Tunes when she gets a bit older. Bugs Bunny as the Barber of Seville is not to be missed.


    August 19, 2010 at 11:34 pm

  3. ,;- I am very thankful to this topic because it really gives useful information ~*’

    Petite Tops

    January 25, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    • “The Impressionists seem to have hit some sweet spot and so get the glory of the umbrellas, mugs and wall calendars.” A hundred years after the fact…

      Wasn’t Bouguereau more popular with the masses than Monet?

      There are living artists, such as Thomas Kincaid, who are very popular with large numbers of folk who are not part of the ‘art world’. Collaborative and inter-media projects can broaden the impact of work, but it is still often not a mass audience. Individual artists have to decide who is their intended audience. Artist must determine what is the dialogue in which they wish to participate.

      Jim Richard Wilson

      January 25, 2011 at 11:21 pm

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