Below is a collection of good artist statements I have come across. Notice how some are very general statements that deal with concept alone (what the artist is interested in and what he/she wants to communicate) and others are about specific bodies of work. In most of the statements that deal with a particular body of work, you'll notice that there is still a discussion of concept first, followed by a discussion of how the work communicates that concept:
My work explores issues of memory, time, and the effects of both on one’s Being through the guise of painting, drawing, and installation. With these media, I channel my life experiences as well as the experiences of others to create works of art. My drawn lines and abstracted forms become my visual representations of conversations and feelings. My artwork re-presents the unseen presence that feelings pose onto actual place. By capturing these emotions in works of art they become infused in time and space; not to become stagnant, but instead, to act as a reminder of what has happened in the past. These moments become pathways for understanding the connections we share as humans with each other and with the natural world that surrounds us.
I am Dwayne Butcher, Memphis' Own, an artist living and working in Memphis, TN. I work on a variety of media: paintings, sculptures, installation, time-based digital paintings, digital videos and spoken word performances.
My work offers a glimpse into the routine of an overweight, heavily accented, beer drinking redneck with a chicken wing and knee-high sock fetish. I have high art aspirations, but do not really know what that means. So, I find myself trying to dress like a hipster, when generally I only wear snapped shirt western wear and cowboy boots, unless, of course, I am having lunch at the Country Club. In which case, I have two nice jackets to choose from. I am a jack-of-all-trades, mover of all things too heavy for normal people, and thinking about getting my first tattoo.
The Erosion Series
Recently my art works have been attempts to grapple with the issue of coastal erosion in South Louisiana. Louisiana is losing land at a rate of a football field every 35 minutes. This is primarily due to the erosion happening along the coast as oil and gas companies have dug canals in their exploration of this oil rich region. The salt water moves in the manmade canals and destroys the wetlands further inland, causing vegetation to die, and in turn, causing the land to erode. Before Katrina, I hadn’t thought much about the prospects of losing the land and the culture with which I grew up. After being a part of Katrina and her aftermath, I see just how serious the issue is, and my work since has been aimed at bringing Louisiana’s plight to light.
My art is a way for me to express what is happening as the erosion process threatens Louisiana. I look back, in my art, at a past that has vanished or is currently in the process of vanishing. I reference landmarks or landscapes mixed with personal experiences of my youth as reminders of what was, juxtaposed with landscapes of wetlands or canals that are the current cause of the problem. In the works, I layer in images, sand them away, layer new images and often create a space that confounds normal scale and perspective as an attempt to relay the chaos that is facing this region and as an attempt to search for some personal sense out of it all. In the process of making these pieces I contort the composition and reorganize reality with a conglomeration of images. I see these as a reorganization and reclamation of space. It is an effort, at least in art form, to take back the lands, industries, lexicons and places I used to know that are disappearing, and reclaiming them as new spaces. It is a personal way to look at what is being lost due to the problem of erosion and reinventing a space where the past comes back to life and affronts the land loss. There are other portions of this series where I focus on one place, person or thing that is vanishing, leaving or no longer exists, as a meditational homage. Painting a crawfish hole or a bridge becomes more than painting a crawfish hole or a bridge, it becomes a deeper thought process into family, loss, and an uncertain future. The work becomes a reconnection to the past and a way to deal with the immense issues facing Louisiana, and in particular, New Orleans.
Faces and Places
I use photography as a means of self-expression – I make pictures for myself, to identify with hidden qualities of my character, to better understand my reality, and to express my interpretation of the world around me. A clearer understanding of myself and of my world allow me to explore fragments of life as an abstract form, and also to interact with people I would otherwise not be able to engage with. My goal is to use my camera like Alice’s rabbit hole, to open an unexplored world, a place of curious self-expression, but also a world of new relationships, new chances new beginnings and most importantly new stories.
My choice of subject comes from a place of intuition and is fuelled by an impetuous desire to partake in the stories that unfold around me. I seek the unknown and I look for the light within the shadows, the stories that are not at first obvious and the uncommon in the common. I photograph people in their environments because I am curious of what lays behind their eyes, where they have been and where they hope to go. My photography evokes the passage of time. I use slow shutter speeds and double exposures to explore the nuances of movement and the modulation of time as it passes from past to present to future. Recently I have begun to work with landscapes, attempting to illustrate abstract, evocative scenery as a motif to epitomize the idea of imagined space, a reminder that what I create through the viewfinder is only real to me.
I am inspired to compose by the contrast of light and dark, while I use the changing light of day to arouse the mood of my dreams. Strangely, colour has appeared in my work, slowly and without intention, concealing the black and white imagery of my past. This colour conjures images of my favourite foods – mangoes, chocolate and spicy masala chai, and surprises me. Gone with the black and white is my concerned with documenting a story, rather I find myself interested in the results of immersing myself in the story and recording my own reactions and actions to my world. The photographs of Faces and Places come from that immersion.
We live in an information-rich yet time-poor culture. I see a society that is becoming more and more disconnected from nature, disconnected from natural rhythms, cycles, and seasons. Often, this is manifested by being disconnected from our own selves.
Fascinated with the concept of time, I have been seeking to understand the feeling that time is “speeding up.” Theories abound to address the issue. This exploration led me to revisit the concept of no time—it means no mind. Eastern philosophies profess that the present moment is the only “reality” and that past and future are an illusion. Being in the present becomes an antidote to the sensation of “accelerating” time.
To create these photographs, I gather objects of personal meaning and work in the moment, responding to what feels right. These images rely on an emotional response in order to be understood. That involves the non-thinking process of presence. Presence is what is needed to become aware of beauty and sacredness in nature. This is an intuitive response. To understand presence is simply to be present. Photography is one way that I am able to experience the moment, suspend time and re-connect with being. With this work, it’s my hope to create an intimate conversation that takes the viewer to a place of quiet contemplation.