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  1. #1
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    My Artist's Statement

    (ROUGH)
    “There is only one logos, but every man lives as if he has his own.”

    I want to prove the first part of this statement through my art, abstractly and symbolically. My life mission is to reach, and then express/share the One Logos, in an effort to keep God alive in the collective American consciousness. I work in a formalist, minimalist style. I use a phenomenological approach to condense the meaning of existence, or existence in this human instant, into what can be put on canvas. I rely on color choice/combination, in the form of a stark contrast between dark and light or cool and warm (black & white or blue & red). My work is religious—metaphysical—in nature, and concentrates entirely on pointing directly to the “one logos” that too many of us seem to miss.

    I’m starting out answering these questions:

    • When does art depict the real world?
    • How can I represent the beginnings of human self-consciousness on canvas?
    • How does the genesis of human self-consciousness indicate what the One Logos is?
    • How do human existence and the psyche mirror the universe?
    • In what way can I put an instant, or facet of God on canvas?
    • Does existential singularity, or "exile" function as the genesis of all "human" activity?



    REVISED 11 Sept. 2017
    “There is only one logos, but every man lives as if he has his own.” (Heraclitus)
    The artist’s job is to condense the meaning of existence, in this human instant, into what can be put on canvas. My life mission is to prove the first part of the above quote, in an effort to keep God alive in the collective American consciousness.
    I want my audience to be seen into by my work, and walk away feeling like something deep and dormant in their psyche has begun to stir.
    I work in formalism and minimalism. My need to make art is religious—metaphysical—in nature, and concentrates on carving out the “one logos” that too many of us seem to miss.


    I’m starting out answering these questions:

    • When does art depict the real world?
    • How can I represent the beginnings of human self-consciousness on canvas? How might that moment in time have looked?
    • How does the genesis of human self-consciousness indicate what the One Logos is?
    • How do human existence and the psyche mirror the universe?
    • In what way can I put an instant, or facet of God on canvas?
    • Does existential singularity, or “exile” function as the genesis of all “human” activity?
    • What is spiritual enlightenment, from a psychological and evolutionary standpoint?


    REVISED 26 Sept. 2017
    “There is only one logos, but every man lives as if he has his own.” (Heraclitus)
    The artist’s job is to condense the meaning of existence, in this human instant, into what can be put on canvas. My life mission is to prove the first part of the above quote, in an effort to keep God alive in the collective American consciousness.
    I work in formalism and minimalism. My need to make art is religious—metaphysical—in nature, and concentrates on carving out the “one logos” that too many of us seem to miss.

    (questions/text omitted; no longer consistent with true goals)
    Last edited by briannahjkelley; September 26th, 2017 at 03:46 AM. Reason: Adding an updated statement


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  3. #2
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    Oh.. LOGOS as in the greek term, not the plural of logo as in advertising. Gotcha.

    I would be remiss if I didn't mention the *original* Logo everyone should respect.

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    Keep folk posted on how your mystical journey goes. I would be interested in seeing where you believe it takes you.
    My commentary is a gift to you.

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  5. #3
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    Okay, well I kind of have two separate critiques. One on the prose, and one on the content of the statement.

    I would recommend not chopping up your statement into so many "I" sentences. You begin every single sentence with I or My. I use this approach. I do this. My work is like this. Yes, it's about you, but combine sentences together and rearrange clauses for more variety.

    Example: "Working in a minimalist style, I use a phenomenological approach to condense...."
    "Color choice becomes exceedingly important in my work, which relies on stark contrast to..."

    Part 2: What are you actually saying?
    First of all, there are too many different ideas here. Remove extra things like (black and white or blue and red) because we already know what color contrast is. What readers might NOT know is:

    -"One Logos"
    - phenomenological approach
    One Logos needs an explanation. Phenomenological approach sounds like something made up. How are you approaching your art from the study of phenomena? What phenomena?

    Too many buzz-words.
    Are you really proving the statement both abstractly and symbolically? Formally and minimally? You use two words often that are related, but are actually very different in the art world like they're the same. Abstraction and Symbolism are two completely different approaches. Formalism is not a style so much as an art philosophy. Saying your art is in a formalist style undermines your entire artist statement because you have shown you aren't interesting in form for the sake of form at all. Your work concentrates ENTIRELY on pointing to the one Logos. the metaphysical nature of things is not a formalist concern.

    The questions you are trying to answer in your work... are baffling. Those are questions that are so subjective that you probably cannot even hope to answer any of them to the satisfaction of anybody. Basically, through your work you are trying to uncover the secrets of the universe. The problem isn't that you're trying to do the impossible, it's actually more that there's too many questions and they aren't all easily related. Like the first one seems more like a conceptual art concern. Remember, stay focused! Could you 'condense' all of these questions into one big one that your work is concerned with?

    Basically, just be honest, choose the big idea of your art to put in your statement, don't try to include everything you have ever considered. Don't use pretentious academic language because it actually doesn't really mean much, it just sounds fancy. Einstein once said, if you cannot explain it simply, you probably don't understand it well enough... or something like that. I'm just saying, fancy language doesn't impress us arty people, and to the layman it is meaningless. So you end up just talking to yourself. Be clear, stay focused.

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    Joe, if the questions I'm asking in my work baffle you, what makes you think you're qualified to critique them?

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    Is there a reason for mentioning the color combinations you use, something that perhaps ties into the theme of your works? Otherwise I'd imagine the audience/reviewer would pick up on that just by looking through your portfolio.

    If you're going to include the Logos quote, I'd attribute to whomever said it, and go on to briefly explain it; I know of the term but I still had to refamiliarize myself and look it up, and making your audience/reviewer do extra leg work to understand your concepts is not something busy people will spend their time doing.

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    I use blue/red and black/white to the exclusion of all other colors; each combination has symbolic significance that doesn't seem apparent to me in the rest of the spectrum. Thank you for asking--I'm going to keep this mentioned in the statement for now.

    People tend to do the legwork about art anyway, busy or no, if they are curious about the work. I understand that having very contextual art might work against me in many cases--I can't make my audience do anything. Doing quick research is entirely your prerogative. God is a universal topic, and Logos is simply another way of pointing to God. The audience will be just fine. And thank you for suggesting that I cite the original speaker.
    Last edited by briannahjkelley; September 4th, 2017 at 11:24 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by briannahjkelley View Post
    Joe, if the questions I'm asking in my work baffle you, what makes you think you're qualified to critique them?
    My apologies. I shouldn't have criticized your questions, only their inclusion in your artist statement. It just seemed like information overload. Just one of those questions could be enough for a lifetime of inquiry, and I was confused as to how your body of work could possibly address them all. That's why my main recommendation is to stay focused in your statement. If I feel baffled reading this, I would guess that others would be as well.

    in regards to you most recent comment in relation to this: I believe it is a mistake to believe the audience will be just fine. Did you know the average time people gaze at a painting in a museum is 8 seconds? Maybe I have too little faith in people.

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    Please speak for yourself. It's okay if my writing seems confusing, because it isn't totally clear, but take the time to ask questions before making declarative statements about my thinking. Hopefully you are curious and not just critiquing for your own satisfaction.

    "The first law to be prescribed to criticism, if we may assume such authority, is that it shall be objective, shall cite the nature of the object rather than its effects on the subject."
    --Ransom, “Criticism, Inc.," 1938

    My biggest challenges are that I take my work too seriously and have tackled a subject extremely large in scope. I already know that this comes across in my writing. I will get closer to understanding and communicating more clearly in due time, as the work becomes more precise. Thank you for sharing your concerns, Joe.

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    you're right. I am being too presumptuous. I think my first impression was that this statement was, like many I have read, pretentious and detached from the public, which may be totally unfair. On reading it again, It isn't truly so difficult as it is imprecise, like you said. Best of luck.

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  13. #10
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    Detached from the public might not be so far off, either. Thank you, Joe.

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    In your statement you say:

    I rely on color choice/combination; usually as a stark contrast between dark and light or cool and warm (black & white or blue & red).
    In a response to Infernoking you write:

    I use blue/red and black/white to the exclusion of all other colors; each combination has symbolic significance that doesn't seem apparent to me in the rest of the spectrum.
    I would suggest leaving out the parentheses and what's in them. . . (black & white or blue & red). Why? To me, it sounds like you are trying to explain what contrast between light and dark is and what cool/warm is- not that you specifically only use black and white, red and blue in your work. If others interpret it the way I do, it feels discordant with the rest of your statement, because the rest of your statement is filled with big philosophical words without clarification, and yet it seems like you are trying to clarify the simple concepts of what dark/light and cool/warm means. If your audience is viewing your work along with the statement, it's already obvious to them you are using black/white, blue/red. They don't need the fact that you use them, spelled out for them. Does that make sense?

    I would possibly add your response to Infernoking into you statement, but it may be enough just to leave out what's in the parentheses. For example: I rely on color choice/combination; usually as a stark contrast between dark and light or cool and warm. I use blue/red and black/white to the exclusion of all other colors; each combination has symbolic significance that doesn't seem apparent to me in the rest of the spectrum.



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  16. #12
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    Thank you for your suggestion. I decided to write around the questions instead of emphasizing them. There's no need to over-explain what I do. New statement:

    “There is only one logos, but every man lives as if he has his own.” (Heraclitus)

    The artist’s job is to condense the meaning of existence in this historical instant, into what can be put on canvas. My life mission is to prove the first part of the above quote, in an effort to keep God alive in the collective American consciousness.

    I work in formalism and minimalism. My need to make art is religious—metaphysical—in nature, and concentrates on carving out the "one
    logos" that too many of us seem to miss.


    I'm starting out answering these questions:

    • When does art depict the real world?
    • How can I represent the beginnings of human self-consciousness on canvas?
    • How does the genesis of human self-consciousness indicate what the One Logos is?
    • How do human existence and the psyche mirror the universe?
    • In what way can I put an instant, or facet of God on canvas?
    • Does existential singularity, or "exile" function as the genesis of all "human" activity?
    • What is enlightenment, from a psychological and evolutionary standpoint?


    It still needs work, but I'm more at-ease with it.

    Last edited by briannahjkelley; September 5th, 2017 at 08:26 PM.

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    This is interesting.

    To me, the most interesting part is actually not in the statement right now. What you said about your color choices is so decisive and absolute. It makes me want to look at your work and see what you are doing with those colors. It connects directly to what is "put on canvas".

    The part about your (presumably Christian?) religious motivation is also compelling, because it establishes a strong context for the work, which anyone can relate to in one way or another. It's very clear and gives us a sense of what guides your decisions as to what to "put on canvas".

    When you modify it by rewording it as "metaphysical" between dashes it raises a question mark. Is she religious or metaphysical? Did she mean for this phrase to raise that question or is this a writing error? To me this weakens the whole thing.

    I think the questions you list at the end are weakening the impact of your statement. Every artist has a mass of questions behind what they do, and much as you want to boil down to what can be "put on canvas" you can communicate more effectively by applying the same reduction to your statement. In a more in-depth review of your work, like maybe a catalogue from a solo show, you can get into all this and there's space to explore it. In this context it seems like a bit of an extranneous info dump.

    I am curious though, do you think there is such a thing as a creative act that is not an instant or facet of god?

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  19. #14
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    Wow. This is a great critique, thanks!

    Metaphysics, to my understanding, tends to be a subsection religion. If you look up "Metaphysics" degrees, you'll see a lot of prep for religious studies, etc. I want to keep this sentence as is, because it's one of the stronger points in the statement. Thank you for bringing that to my attention, though--I might need to explain that in the future.

    I will not reduce the questions section either, but will isolate the most important point somewhere, somehow:

    • How can I represent the beginnings of human self-consciousness on canvas? How might that moment in time have looked?


    And a catalogue including them is a fantastic suggestion. I'm still starting out, though, so I need time in answering all of the questions, artistically and verbally.

    Your question: Yes. I think anything that does not arrest a viewer's attention or push them into a state of beholding is not a facet of God. Technically, everything is a facet of God, but there's a difference between art that you sense God in immediately, and art that only approaches this. I don't usually entertain the latter unless the piece is really one-of-a-kind for the artist and executed well.

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    In my field, illustration, you have to be very careful not to overburden your work with too many ideas, because each one weakens the message/ idea if it is competing with another within one image. I can't help but think that as you progress on this path, you will have to narrow your focus. Not necessarily globally, but piece for piece, the scope of questions you pose strikes me not so much as too great but too multi-directional for any single painting.

    One of the reasons I think narrowing of focus will occur is that you have already begun to do so. In the question you quote, which I agree is a fascinating one, you have already eliminated any non-religious answer by virtue of your focus on god. As much as that is a philosophical failing in my own opinion, I think it may lead to more clarity in your work.

    But that's a weird kind of predictive view of your art life, and not really about your statement. If your statement now is an accurate reflection of where you stand, then good. You've heard from a couple of people here I think that the questions have a kind of offputting effect for some, at least in their numbers as they are. But if they're all essential right now and you need everyone to know that from the outset, then go for it of course.

    As facets of god are concerned, do I read you right that the things you are looking for need to be revelatory? So it has to trigger a religious experience in the viewer? If that's what you meant, or nearly, I have to wonder if enough of the cause for such a revelation rests in the work itself (rather than in the viewer) for you to have much success in deliberately triggering it. Or is that not your goal?

    When it comes to seeing god I'm always remlnded of a moment from Svankmajer's Faustus (though there's an aggressive tone to it which is out of place here), as Faust is furious that Mephisto has not shown him the revelations he desired:

    Faust: Liar and foul traitor!
    Where are the pulse and core of nature
    you promised to reveal? Where?

    Mephistopheles: Faustus, you lack the wit to see them
    in every blade of grass.

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    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, however disrespectful they might be.

    "The first law to be prescribed to criticism, if we may assume such authority, is that it shall be objective, shall cite the nature of the object rather than its effects on the subject."
    --Ransom, “Criticism, Inc.," 1938

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    What struck you as disrespectful? I'd be interested to know what in my comments was problematic for you, since rudeness was not my intention.

    If it's the quote from Faustus, perhaps it wasn't enough for me to mention that the aggressive nature of the wording wasn't why I shared it. It's not the "you haven't the wit" part- I can see why that would offend, certainly- it was the idea that revelation is up to the seeker or viewer as much as it is up to the "source", perhaps even more so. It's another way of putting the question I posed before, as to whether it is really possible to trigger that revelatory experience deliberately (I suspect it's not, for the above reason, but it's a fascinating investigation).

    So if that quote was what insulted you, my apologies. Maybe it's too harsh in its tone to be appropriate in civil discussion.

    If it was the rest, then as much as I regret its impact on you I can't apologise for it, it's honest feedback. Maybe it would come across differently in person, if the tone is wrong then that's a failing of my writing.

    The quote you share, which I saw earlier as well, is a bit misplaced I think. In such a medium of communication as an artist's statement the effect on the reader is the nature of the object. And is your reaction to my feedback objective, or are you reacting to its effect on you? In the substance of the ideas, the nature of the object, I don't yet see where the disrespect is. I am open to seeing it though, if you will point it out.

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    Please excuse me. I misread what you wrote, and then interpreted that badly. Your comment was not disrespectful, but exactly what I’ve been waiting for.

    I appreciate your concern about the presence/challenge of the questions, but they stay for now. The several ideas funnel into one overarching idea. This is an artist’s statement, the scope of my work and artistic identity—not a description of any piece in particular. I have a feeling I might not even need a statement in the future.

    I don’t think philosophy is atheistic, and religion/God don’t tend to exclude everything else. Unless you want them to (speaking from experience).

    Ideally, I’d like it to trigger a “beholding” experience in the viewer. Not necessarily “religious”—but I have had an experience of awe looking into the more overwhelming pieces I’ve done. It could be religious or simply arresting. As long as it makes a deep enough impression on the viewer that they walk away feeling a bit…hypnotized? Changed? Like they’ve been seen into, or like something deep and dormant in their psyche has begun to stir. For that to happen, the work itself has to be strong enough. Autonomous. And great art has to mirror the human being. This is the core of that:

    • How can I represent the beginnings of human self-consciousness on canvas? How might that moment in time have looked?


    “When it comes to seeing god I'm always remlnded of a moment from Svankmajer's Faustus (though there's an aggressive tone to it which is out of place here), as Faust is furious that Mephisto has not shown him the revelations he desired:

    Faust: Liar and foul traitor!
    Where are the pulse and core of nature
    you promised to reveal? Where?

    Mephistopheles: Faustus, you lack the wit to see them
    in every blade of grass.”

    Thank you for including this. You helped me. Again, I’m so sorry for misunderstanding you.

    (And you’re right, my quote was inappropriate. Less so in the first appearance, but absolutely in response to you.)

  24. #19
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    That's good to hear.

    For what it's worth, my own view is that most artist's statements obscure as much as they clarify, often more so. The work is the most important thing of course, and if your paintings are powerful enough to stir something primal in the viewer then you won't really need to tell them that's what you were trying to do. But galleries will want a statement.

    I don't think philosophy has to be atheistic either, but I do think that trying to answer questions about the origin of consciousness while already having established that your aim is to bring people back to god (a clumsy paraphrase maybe but scrolling back to your first post on my phone is annoying) does imply very, very strongly that your answer will need to include god in order to qualify. Hence, the door to an answer that doesn't include god is closed by virtue of an a priori conclusion. That's what I mean by a philosophical failing; I can't take the consciousness question 100% seriously as an investigation if I know it is secondary to the foregone conclusion that there is a god.

    I'm curious though, is this the god of the Bible we are talking about here or something else?

    FWIW I find your more plain-language explanations of your vision/work in the course of this thread clearer and more illuminating than the formal statement.

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  26. #20
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    I'll have to simplify the language more. Less is more. I have a feeling I might need to extend the statement, get more information in there, and keep tweaking until it's clear as day. And I agree that the work will speak much louder than the statement ever could--but it feels good to articulate it.

    I'm talking about God in an absolute sense--so yes, God of the Bible included, but more along these lines:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God

    I think God is about the most complex thing there is, so using philosophy, metaphysics, biology, psychology, and religion as tools is my approach to grasping such a broad and difficult thing. To attack this from more than one angle is the best way to do this. I'm not so focused on philosophy as I am on God--now, I know how I currently conceive of God both intellectually and in terms of a metaphysical experience. I know that God is perpetually beyond my grasp, even if I get a slight taste of what he is. I don't know how you conceive of God--and unfortunately, I can't talk much about him with you if you don't let me know where you stand.

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    I imagine a lot of folks will assume you are talking about the bilblical god in your own statement.

    My own view on the idea of god is a little tricky to articulate, and I'm not sure I really want to get into it here. For the purposes of talking about your statement, it's interesting to know that your conception of it is so broad, because as I said it seems to me that a viewer's assumption is fairly likely to be that you are talking about the Judaeo-Christian entity here. And that sounds very much not to be the case. But is there another word for it that isn't the territory of a specific religion?

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    The term "God" is in the territory of many religions.

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    Something to be aware of in regards to your phrasing:
    When you're describing the general non-specific concept, use "god" (uncapitalized).
    If you're revering/recognizing the name/authority, which is something typically monotheists do,
    use "God" (capitalized).

    Since you've been capitalizing the word so far, your statement will likely be presumed to be of Judeo-Christian interpretation; even then certain Jewish traditions won't spell the full name G-d.
    Other religions generally have their own name/words to differentiate the two using whichever culture and language base they're from.

    The distinction matters if you're trying to describe the concept in writing, you might inadvertently piss off certain audiences because you used God when you meant to say god. Persons who might otherwise showcase your work or buy your stuff.

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    I'm fine with my phrasing, as it's intellectually sound.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_God
    Last edited by briannahjkelley; September 15th, 2017 at 01:12 AM.

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