Wednesday, October 25, 2006

State your purpose....

ACK! You, dear internets, are the recipients of the angst I'm experiencing as I prepare my first "official" artist's statement. Now, I say "official" because I have written artist's statements before, for my two Stations of the Cross for the Open Door. The first year I did a collage on a Kleenex box of different images of Veronica's Veil with some of the lyrics from "Veronica" by Elvis Costello. The idea was that it was a participatory piece of art--take a Kleenex and remember that Veronica used a cloth to wipe Christ's face. My artist's statement (which I just found, as I've been cleaning out my email) was the following:

When I first moved back to Pittsburgh, I dated a guy who lived on the South Side, up in Allentown. I loved all the funny roads I had to take to get back to the city. One of those roads was 12th Street, the address of the Veronica's Veil Auditorium, where a passion play about Veronica has played for 86 continuous years. It is a play written in Pittsburgh by two priests, taking place in the time of Christ and the first martyrs. Somewhere in the middle, I became Catholic for about 3 years (or so) before I came to the Open Door. Since Veronica had intrigued me, I thought I'd find out more about her. This piece is an interpretation of extra-Biblical lore-it is meant to make you think, but do not rely on its absolute veracity. Also, my first college roommate's name was Veronica, right around the time Elvis Costello's song was popular.

My second artist's statement was for the following year, and it's probably tucked in some safe (read=hidden) file in my PC. This time I had the station that dealt with Jesus speaking to the women of Jerusalem (which was not at all comforting). He basically tells them that they will face horrible times ahead. So I made greeting cards, a very womanly media.

But this artist's statement is for Unwrapped, an art show the Union Project has put on for the past five? years. The first year that the OD participated, the show was housed at Bellefield (the OD's mother church) and I was BJ's right hand in on-site preparation.

I've been taking digital pictures for almost a year. I got my camera because I wanted to take part in Blackbird's now defunct (or just taking a long holiday) Show and Tell. I got the exact same camera that Babs has, a Canon A-something. It didn't take long for me to transition from just taking pictures for S&T to carrying my camera with me everywhere, including on my now almost daily morning walks. The first decent picture I took of a spiderweb blew me away--how could I have been so blessed to capture that moment? and others liked it too. So that will be one of my "submissions" for the show. I have to actually (yes, this is official) send in a $10 fee and be accepted (or rejected) for the show.

I have been taking pictures since my mom gave me her Brownie camera when I was around nine or ten. I have loads of pictures of trickling waterfalls on the side of the roads outside Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where we lived at the time. When we moved back to Silver Spring, Maryland, I would take walks and photograph cats sitting on windowsills, or interesting houses. I would dress up in my mom's clothes and put on make-up and take endless self-portraits. I still have some of them, somewhere.

I like taking candid shots--catching someone on film unawares. This is easier if your camera doesn't make a noise when it takes a picture--a feature of most (but not mine) digital cameras.

But this year, as I've taken my camera on my morning walks, taking photographs has been a way of looking at things more closely. By trying to frame the image in the viewfinder, I see something I might have missed if I had merely looked at whatever it was I was trying to capture on film. And because with digital photography, I don't have to print each image captured, I have more freedom to take ten pictures of one thing and see on my tiny screen what the picture will look like, right away.

My artist's statement has to tie into the themes of the Union Project: connect, create, celebrate. I think this is the part where my stomach goes ker-flip. Ack. I have pictures of flowers and spiderwebs using the easiest medium available: digital photography. Am I really creating or just capturing a moment? How do my pictures connect--they are mostly still lifes or spiders, not of people (which is what I think of when I think of connect). Celebrate--it would be a celebratory moment if my pictures got into an actual show that I could be rejected from.

Which is not, I'm thinking, what the dear folks at the UP want. I have printed some stuff from a good old Google search which help on the whole statement part but not the connect, celebrate or create bit.

Let's see what Webster says:

connect: unite, fasten together, join. Actually one of the most unromantic street names that I often see on my walk, depending on the route I take is "Connecting Road." But still, I don't see the connection (ha ha) between that and my photos. Let's keep going....

create: orginate, cause, produce. I suppose while I don't create the moment, I am "producing" a picture of it, much like an executive producer produces a TV show (I'm stretching here, just go with me on this...)

celebrate: observe in a special way, praise, honor, solemnize. Well, this is one I can sink my teeth into. When I take my pictures, I am observing them (ha ha, in the visual sense, not a holiday sense) in a special way. I am praising my Creator for what he has created and honoring him by recording the moment. I am often solemn as I peer at the spiders in their webs, awestruck at their minute and fragile geography. Hmmm.

Also, I don't have any idea how long my "artist's statement" is to be. Some are a paragraph, some are a page. The "Call to Artists" didn't specify legnth!!!

Well, I'll keep noodling on this. After all, I have five more days to finish this (two of which I'll be at a retreat and two of which I'll be working...) So...

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