Writing an Effective Artist Statement

Any quilter entering pieces into a show will be asked to submit an accompanying artist statement, and are often nervous about this part of their submission.

An artist statement is essentially an introduction of the art/quilted piece, without the maker being there. Your quilt has a story; it’s important to share this with the viewers.

With that in mind, here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing your submissions to the Festival of Quilts:

  1. Keep it simple: Write your statement as if you were speaking to someone in person.
  2. Tell why you made it: You could explain your motivation, the subject matter or what inspired you to create your piece. You could also present any artistic or personal influences. What emotions are you trying to convey?
  3. Tell how you made it: You may want to include a bit of information about your artistic process or special techniques (keeping in mind that the show organizer may list the techniques used immediately following the statement)
  4. Tell what the piece means to you: You may want to include a personal statement of what the piece means to you. You can engage the viewer by asking a question or pointing out something specific that is important in the piece.
  5. Keep it short: Make it succinct and easy to read. Stay within the guidelines on the entry form (for example, if it says 75 words, keep it to 75 words!) You don’t need to impress anyone with language or concepts that are too complex.
  6. Get an outside opinion: Don’t be afraid to ask a friend for suggestions or editing!

In summary, an artist statement speaks to the viewer in the artist’s absence. Therefore, the artist statement should be short, concise and well written in a conversational language.

Here are two examples:
Example 1: Lit From Within
This piece is part of an inner secret place in my mind and is part of
a daily meditative practice using this particular shape. The spiral
helps focus my feelings and thoughts as they shift through my
head. For me there is an ancient quality to this work, as if it is
retelling and old story that has been lost in time and is emerging
again during my meditation.
Materials: Original design dyed on cloth.
Techniques: Quilted by machine, beaded by hand and colour
enhanced by Prisma coloured pencils.

Example 2: Crazy Cat Lady
Begun in a class with Susan Shie, this is a self-portrait of me and
my feline family. I adore the unique personalities and independent
spirits of my furry friends. Nothing is more soothing than a kitty
purring with contentment. Hidden in the background text are
stories about my cats as well as poems about cats by T.S. Eliot.
Materials: Setacolor paints, 100% cotton fabric and batt, cotton thread
Techniques: Drawing, painting, printing

-Susan Johnson and Pauline Kratky, 2015 Show Chairs

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