December 5, 2009

Don't Believe the Hype!

Am I a "real" artist now?  Read my "statement" and judge for yourself:

Work of Post-Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

The mind creates, the chaos permeates. In the material reality, art objects are calculations of the iterations of the mind -- a mind that uses the chaos as a zeitgeist to deconstruct ideas, patterns, and emotions. With the rationalization of the mixed-media environment, the mind is conceiving a point where it will be free from the chaos to transcend immersions into the machinations of the delphic reality. Work of Post-Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction contains 10 scraps of ephemera (also refered to as "logics") that enable the user to make external visual comparisons.

measuring chains, constructing realities putting into place forms
a matrix of illusion and disillusion
a strange attracting force
so that a seduced reality will be able to spontaneously feed on it

Mel Kolstad's work investigates the nuances of modulations through the use of found objects and close-ups which emphasize the Mechanical nature of mixed media. Kolstad explores abstract and interstitial scenery as motifs to describe the idea of infinite reality. Using cursive loops, non-linear narratives, and allegorical images as patterns, Kolstad creates meditative environments which suggest the expansion of art...

Blah, blah, blah.  Isn't this hilarious?  I found it on Market-O-Matic and, while it sounds intellectual, it also sort of brings to light the tremendous amount of bullcrap that swirls around "real art".

In the past three years or so, I have been obsessed with Artist Trading Cards (or ATCs for short).  This passion has spilled over into many aspects of my life - live trades every month in Milwaukee, many new friends, artist workshops, teaching my own classes, connecting with other artists, and having my work featured on several blogs and a couple of magazines.  I am really starting to feel confident about my abilities as an artist, and I'm even getting over the hesitation of calling myself one (but it's still hard to do - I still worry about sounding pretentious).

I think each and every one of us has artistic ability in some form.  I never thought I did until I found my niche, which is collage and mixed media.  I still don't think I can draw, and I don't consider myself a "fine artist" (I'm pretty sure that in most circles that means you have your MFA or something). 

But like art itself, this differentiation is so subjective!  And really, what constitutes "real artist"?  Think about your own expression - be it acting, music, art, photography, whatever you do creatively - how would you define your success?  Do you have to be rich and famous to be successful, or could it be just having a couple pieces selected for a show?  Is it having throngs of admirers, or a couple of really swell comments on your Flickr page or admirers at your gig?  Is it being the star, or being part of the bigger picture?  Do you have to get paid to do what you love, or is it enough to just really love what you do (being paid IS always nice, though!) 

When I look at the high-gloss art magazines like ArtForum or Art in America, and I see what is being shown in the famous galleries, I wonder how these pieces got chosen.  Oh, please don't take this as sour grapes - I don't aspire to show in a New York gallery, because I don't think I would fit in that world - but it does interest me as to why some pieces get chosen over others.  I will admit (as should every other person who's done an art piece) that there have been times that I've said, aloud even, "Pfft.  I could do that.".  Now, I realize that it's not as easy as it looks, but come on!!!  Three lines on a blank canvas?!  For a couple thousand dollars?  As Aretha Franklin would say, who's zoomin' who here?

Which brings me to my original point - is "real" art where it's at?  Or should we, in choosing art for our homes, stick to the pieces we truly love?  Who says that a piece that costs $25 is any less valuable than one that sets you back $2500?  What if you bring a 'valuable' work of art home and totally hate it, but hang it in a prominent place in your home just so you can tell people you own a (insert artist du jour's name here)?  That sort of behavior has always bothered me.  At that point the art in question is no better than the latest designer handbag or hybrid Lexus. 

So, to be a "real" artist, do I have to write a statement like the one above?  I hope not - I would never want to start believing my own hype.


  1. Louis Armstrong was once asked about what kind of music he played. His response was that there are two kinds; good and bad. If you like it it's good, if you don't it's bad. Thats how I've always looked at art. If you look at it and you like it it's good. If not, it's bad.

    Learning about something is different than appreciating it.

    I think a real artist creates because they have to, most don't get any recognition while thier alive. Van Gogh for instance only sold one painting while he was alive, and it was just to pay the rent.

  2. Thanks for posting! :D

    I think you're right about having to create - I know that I get crabby if I can't do my art when I want to (that pesky job gets in the way). :D

    I guess what I was going for is that I never want to give the impression that I'm a poseur or that I'm better than other people (because of that terribly pretentious artist statement that I made up).