The Back Story


 More back story for that last quilt posted: Here are the lyrics to "And She Was." (Maybe I already told you this, oh well.)

And She Was

And she was lying in the grass
And she could hear the highway breathing
And she could see a nearby factory
She's making sure she is not dreaming
See the lights of a neighbor's house
Now she's starting to rise
Take a minute to concentrate
And she opens up her eyes

The world was moving and she was right there with it (and she was)
The world was moving she was floating above it (and she was) and she was

And she was drifting through the backyard
And she was taking off her dress
And she was moving very slowly
Rising up above the earth
Moving into the universe
Drifting this way and that
Not touching ground at all
Up above the yard


She was glad about it... no doubt about it
She isn't sure where she's gone
No time to think about what to tell them
No time to think about what she's done
And she was

And she was looking at herself
And things were looking like a movie
She had a pleasant elevation
She's moving out in all directions


Joining the world of missing persons (and she was)
Missing enough to feel alright (and she was)

At our recent Artcloth Network meeting, we spent a bit of time debating the use of short artist statements as part of the labels next to the work at our exhibit. A few people stood firm on "letting the work stand on its own," with some discussion  about how no one expects a painter to put an explanation next to his or her work. Others concurred that artist statements often can read like just so much jargony gobbledegook. (Only bad ones, I say.)

So are explanations of one's work something we as fiber artists should eschew, with the intent of being more accepted as "real" artists, since that's what painters do or don't do.  Well, yes, and no. Having worked fairly recently in the world of museum exhibits, I know that the trend, even in the vaulted A with Capital A Art World is for more explanation, not less. I personally enjoy exhibits more when I can read something of the back story. I don't know if we are just less comfortable with letting go of the verbal, and less well-mastered in visual literacy, or if we just want more. I don't find explanations off-putting, and I really like knowing more about the artist, no matter what the media. In a sales gallery, one expects the manager, owner or staff to to the job. In a volunteer organization's gallery space, that's a bit much to hope for.

By the time discussion had ended, we found ourselves in agreement that the use of SHORT artist statements relating to the work at hand -- stories -- did help the exhibit and help the audience, especially in a relatively "new" media like artcloth.
What do you think? Do you like reading labels, like the supporting materials you find on websites and blogs? (I guess if you are reading this, you might say, yes.) Do we humans around the virtual fire pit want stories in the same ways our ancient ancestors did?

Somehow this also seems to relate to something I read today on John Maeda's "Symplicity" blog. He is wondering whether the physicality of products is going to be less important than the software associated with them as the world goes on into the ether. Think about it, the ipod is less about the machine you hold than the software on itunes that makes it oh-so-versatile.