Friday, July 18, 2008

Do you tend to explain your art?

"Explanations are the traitor of art
Serious art defies easy interpretation, and artists should resist the call to explain themselves"
......Jonathan Jones

This quote from the Art & Architecture blog in the British Guardian newspaper
gave me food for thought this morning. As textile artists, do we explain too much or does the need for explanation go hand in glove with the medium?
There are a myriad of blogs out there in cyberspace written by textile practitioners, many of whom are professional teachers or by those who naturally teach as they write to their readership. Everywhere you look tutorials abound. BUT I notice that aside from the " tutes" and blogging, many textile artists seem to have a need to explain their work and why they did it etc. Even at Gallery Openings where texile art is prominent, I hear artists explaining their process to viewers or prospective clients. I personally don't see this done as much in other mediums in these type of venues. More often than not, you see the viewer immersed in deep thought over a painting or sculpture and you can almost see the wheels going around while they try to discern in their own mind what the artist is trying to say.
What are your thoughts on this? Does our medium demand explanation or is it the fact that there is a largely female population immersed in this art and verbal communication comes more readily to women? As females and nurturers, does teaching or explaining come naturally? Do women artists in other mediums feel a need to explain their work?


Violette Severin said...

Interesting thought. I think textile artists are used to answering certain types of questions from fellow textiles aertists that they just start talking.

sharonb said...

...mmm... interesting I think much of the explaining textile artists do is due in part to lack of confidence. Often too they talk about the source of inspiration or the process which of course is different to concept
just my 2 cents worth

Leonie said...

Interesting observation Sharon. Could it be that textile art is not as readily accepted by the formal art galleries, museums and like venues as other art forms, and as a result, fibre artists feel they have to " talk it up", explain and bolster their work constantly.
Perhaps the lack of confidence you refer to consequently stems from this ongoing" struggle" for acceptance and exposure?

Vickie said...

great question leonie. before i began working with textile dimension, my "flat" work appeared in galleries and various museums.
i don't recall discussing our pieces with other artists, perhaps in part, an etching is an etching...we knew the properties of lithography.

working in textiles offers a gazillion techniques. i don't find confidence issues with my students; it is quite the opposite. they discuss and share their techniques enthusiastically because they are with like-minded individuals. they are there to "absorb".

i think, perhaps "decision issues" ie color, placement, technique, visit us as we embark on a new technique and begin to "feel" our way down the path. all of us are at different levels of creative growth...and we are verbal and we share! lol