some rambling thoughts about my work...
Below is the Artist's Statement I currently use at galleries, etc. I recommend that you click here to skip it and move down to some of my favorite art-oriented quotes.
Artist's Statement: Kristin Sweedler
My involvement with sculpture grew out of my life as a piano technician. Using woods and metals to rebuild pianos, I developed a desire to use these media metaphorically as well as structurally.
The "meaning" of each piece comes from the interaction between personal symbolism, design, medium and process. Since I believe that the various sculptural media and techniques have voices of their own, I chose my medium with the idea that my final result will be a duet with nature. As Marshall McLuhan would say, my medium is part of my message. My techniques are part of my message too. An example of this would be my use of the electroforming process for shaping copper. The process (which is similar to plating) is a new one. The metal, itself however, has been used for thousands of years. I love the dichotomy between the antiquity of the media and the newness of the process and see it as a symbol for the tension between the beauty of tradition verses the freedom of the unconventional. As an unconventional woman who loves history, I experience this conflict on a personal level and express it by depicting the female form in electroformed copper. This led me to think that traditional male roles have changed too, and I responded by creating a male torso.
My goal is to create well crafted pieces which have a symbolic relevance to my life and which will involve the viewer enough so that she can relate (in her own way) to the same symbols. I love the open endedness of artistic communication and it doesn't bother me that the viewer's interpretation of my work might differ from my own. I would like my pieces to be focal point for the viewer's mental play and meditation.
Among the many modern artists who have influenced my work are Stephen De Staebler, Magdalena Abakanowicz, the turn of the 20th century symbolist movement (poetry as well as the visual arts), and Louise Bourgeois.
Lately I've been doing work for the Museum Support Center of the Smithsonian Institute. Much of this involves making storage casings for cultural artifacts (mostly Native American, but also from "traditional" cultures of Africa and Asia.) Touching the work of all these nameless artists who gained total mastery of their media, and a deep understanding of their traditions, without losing their individuality is having a big impact on my work. I feel that during the 20th century the ugliness revealed by the birth throes of modernity forced artists to go all the way back to basics to find a visual truth ("Okay.... if the past 900+ years culminateded in World War II, all of western civilization is meaningless. Let's go back to square one.... THIS is a CIRCLE..."). The search for cultural innocence cast craftmanship in a bad light. ("If you have to spend that much time thinking about things, you're probably lying...") Now, at the turn of the millenium, the world has finally healed to the point where fine craftsmanship need not be equated with hypocrisy. Once again, it's permissable for the artist to take her time...ponder... revise... ...ponder more... revise again...without being suspect. This is a fun time to be an artist!
I think the value of artists' statements-- including mine-- is WAY over emphasized in the art world. If I could best express what I wanted to say through writing, I would have become a writer instead of working with welding torches, sulfuric acid, etc. Why does the art world continuously require artists to translate their message into a medium which is not their medium of choice? Maybe it's because they think that accurate communication means logically precise communication... and non-verbal art is so inexact. I think that inexact forms of communication can be more accurate even though they're more vague.
Some Interesting Quotes by Creative Artists
The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.
-- Oscar Wilde, author.
Anyone concerned with the future of literature and art in America should be repelled by that witches' brew of hypocrisy and sanctimony called "political correctness", which has poisoned the professional life of the elite colleges and universities.
--Camille Paglia, writer and social critic
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
--Scott Adams, cartoonist
The artist does not draw what he sees, he draws what he must make others see.
--Edgar Degas, painter
Art is I; Science is We.
--Claude Bernard, physiologist
The big artist...keeps an eye on nature and steals her tools.
--Thomas Eakins, painter
Whoever ceases to be a student has never been a student.
-- George Iles, author
It is not pure fantasy to say that the color red is like the sound of a trumpet.
--Joyce Carey, writer
Those who think metaphorically are enabled to think truly because the shape of their thinking echoes the shape of the world.
-- Jan Zwicky, poet
I have not worked at all... Nothing seems worth putting down – I seem to have nothing to say – it appalls me but that is the way it is.
--Georgia O'Keeffe, painter
My own image of my work is that I no sooner settle into something than a break occurs. These breaks are always painful and depressing but despite them I see that there's a consistency that holds out, but is hard to define.
--Lee Krasner, painter
Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon. When we love a woman we don't start measuring her limbs.
--Pablo Picasso, visual artist
I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
-- Robert McCloskey
Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.
-- Abbott Joseph Liebling, journalist
If you really want to upset your parents, and you are not brave enough to be gay, go into the arts!
-- Kurt Vonnegut, author
The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and, ironically, the more real.
-- Lucian Freud, painter
Season to taste. Cook until done.
--Unknown, from Lutong Pinoy Philippine Recipes website
It is the stretched soul that makes music, and souls are stretched by the pull of opposites- opposite bents, tastes, yearnings, loyalties. Where there is not polarity- where energies flow smoothly in one direction- there will be much doing but no music
--Eric Hoffer, social philosopher
Truths do not contradict each other except when they become disordered.
-- Nicolas Gomez-Davila, philosopher
I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it by not dying.
--Woody Allen, actor
Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.
-- Pablo Picasso, painter
He sat down and simply played a scale. To my amazement, he played it unevenly.
His scale was alive. It came from somewhere, and went somewhere.
--Gyorgy Sandor on Bela Bartok, composer