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In general, an artist statement should address what you make, how and why you make it and how you understand your work’s meaning.
How you describe what you do is pivotal to your statement, but your description doesn’t have to be drawn out. Give your readers a clear idea of what your artistic project really includes. Simple assertions like Damien Hirst’s claim to make “perfectly dumb paintings” can be more than enough, as long as they support your description of how and why you make what you make.
Your statement should definitely address method, since it's what bridges the gap between your ideas and your product. How do you work and what materials do you use? If you paint on the floor because it’s more conducive to accidents and your work explores chance, you should say so. Or if you often cover already black surfaces with charcoal because you’re interested in redundancy, mention that too. You could also describe how you went about making specific works, especially works that are going to be central to your MFA show.
You don’t, however, need to go into arduous detail about each aspect of your process. Just give a glimpse into the more unusual or important aspects.
In explaining the “why” behind your work, you are essentially defining a discourse for yourself.
Some artists, like Jasper Johns, notoriously avoid discussing the content of their work, instead focusing on physical, compositional and material choices. While Johns gets away with this sort of evasiveness, someone like Marina Abramovic, who’s had orgasms during public performances, has to be more open about her work’s psychological and personal motivations.
Strategize carefully in this section of your paper and self edit. If you want your work to be discussed in terms of feminism, for example, broach feminist issues. But if, while you have been influenced by feminist artists, feminism isn’t crucial to your work’s meaning, leave it out.
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