The Voice of Art: An Artist Statement Workshop Experience

Upon entering our Tuesday evening class, I observed the students sitting in two groups — in correspondence to the class they were in — and immediately a thought crossed my mind, “I wish I could be at both tables.” The reason for this thought comes from the fact that I myself am also an artist. With this in mind, curiosity and excitement filled me up and I was anxious to see how the workshop would play out.

Erina and Sterling structured the class so well, in my opinion, because their explanation(s) of what an artist statement should entail were thorough and simple to understand. It should reflect, attract and expand on your work while being concise and straightforward. Yes, saying it that way makes it sound simple to do, however many artists struggle with using words to explain themselves because art is their medium of choice. Coming into the class I was not entirely sure how I would be able to critique someone’s statement about their work(s). Mostly in part because I did not feel my opinions would be helpful considering the difficulty that lies in writing about your art. I understood this because I was able to put myself in the artist’s shoes, and think about trying to explain my own art. Although, once we began the first round of critiquing I felt more comfortable because it felt nice to be able to help someone improve on their statement.

I met with some incredibly interesting and passionate artists during this class, and it was very refreshing to give constructive criticism and it not be received offensively. Sterling’s students are a great group to work and grow with as writers and artists.

Rachael Pantuso




  1. That is great to hear how much you took away from the class. I was unable to attend unfortunately, but I was able to meet up with an Artist friend of mine and was able to discuss his statement with him. He has been Graduated from Texas State for a few years now and is a practicing artist and that is where his career and life is focused and it showed in his statement, through the strength in the ideas of his inspiration and direction. I found though that even he was using A LOT of jargon and had unnecessary statements that didn’t promote or push his work but simply filled space. And even I took a lot away from that by being able to see a practicing/working artist still working his way through a statement shwoing me that a staement is never fully finished. Which led me to the question of “Is an Artis’s statement ever fully complete?”. I find it interesting that you found it challenging at first to contemplate how to help with forming an Artist’s statement. I dabble in art myself but wouldn’t consider myself an artist and find it easy to step back and look at someones statement or work and help them put those ideas into a solid sentence and I am curious if you also being an artist has anything to do with the challenge you first faced when introduced to this assignment.

    -Krista Kelly


  2. I agree with Rachael about wanting to sit at both tables upon coming into the workshop! During the one on one conferences with the artists, I was asked how the workshop contributed to our class. The answer was clear– in helping the artists with their statements, I could better see how I needed to work on my own short review. In aiding with editing and clarity, it became more apparent how I should revise my own paper. Additionally, the workshop was a great first experience in working with an artist. I would like to open a gallery and will very likely be in similar situations in the future! (Even if not working directly with the artist on their statement in the gallery, this workshop shed light on clear and meaningful writing which can be used in critiquing as well.)



  3. Like Natasha, I also want to open my own gallery one day and this workshop was incredibly insightful to the process of working with artists! I loved hearing from the artists directly and how much time and effort goes into each of their works. I was surprisingly comfortable in this one-on-one critical conversation with an artist. Initially, I was worried I would offend someone, but Sterling’s class was awesome! They loved the advice and were very grateful our help. I hope to have more of this type of interaction in my future!



  4. It’s funny that you mention wanting to sit at both tables. When I walked into the classroom I immediately sat with my friend Hannah from our crit class, and after looking around the room noticed that there was a clear divide. We were both art history majors sitting at the table with artists, and while this made rotations and finding an artist to work with easy, I couldn’t help but feel out of place at first. Once we started working with the artist’s statements I entered this mindset of wanting to be as helpful as possible without stepping on anyone’s toes. It’s hard for me to read statements with a critical eye. I can of course help with grammar or jargon or the structure of them, but it’s difficult for me to feel like something is missing or needs to be added to them (unless they are as bad as the examples given at the beginning of class). I read each statement carefully and asked questions if something wasn’t clear, and I’m not sure if I got extremely lucky with my rotations or if my understandings came with the discussions I had with each artist. Either way there was very little to change with the three artist’s I spoke with. They all had an understanding that reflected what we learned from the introduction given by Erina, and that made my job easy and allowed for me to just talk with them about their work.

    -Kaytlin Esparza


  5. Reading this blog post was almost like reading my own thoughts. I ended up enjoying the class a lot more than I originally thought I would because it wasn’t as stressful as I expected. I feel like it’s really difficult to try to explain my photos and why I take them. People ask and honestly I wish I could give them a better answer at times as to what inspires me and what the whole point is. I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to give any useful information, much like you said. I also agree with you though that it was a nice experience because it felt nice to help them in any way I could. They’re a really interesting group of artists and I like combining classes with them.


  6. I found it helpful and fun as well however, I also found it to be kind of intimidating. Some of the artists I spoke with, I could tell they were really eager to hear someone else’s opinion and get some feedback. While on the other hand I felt it was almost impossible to get through, not really wanting to hear my feedback. I definitely felt like I clicked with some artists better than others but I feel like that goes for any collaboration between new people.


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