A few days ago I set out to see if I could write a better artist statement than one randomly generated. I read over 100 artist statements and a few main themes emerged as driving forces:
- ritual remembrance of an influential family member
- truth and beauty
- a significant illness usually of the artist
- social change in response to outrage
- exploration of interests, for example in flora
The more common theme is “must”. Many artists expressed some feeling that they must create. And that response, while gratifying, was not the driving force. Amen to that.
My day time super powers are to create ways of doing new things for the first time and to organize people, processes and information to create more peace. (My useless superpower is being able to sing the lyrics of songs from the 70s and 80s with little prompting.) My night time and weekend superpower is creating art.
As an artist, I create to make peace between things that are framed as opposites. I also create to surface and express emotions without words by turning things over with my mind’s hands without looking at it with my mind’s eye.
Media / Process
I loved drawing and painting in grade school and I kept my drawings safe between hay bales in a tin shed that doubled as my entomology lab where I watched caterpillars turn into chrysalis and emerge butterflies.
Later, I loved photography and desiring to hone my craft I earned an MFA in Digital Media. I continue to learn other disciplines because the challenge brings me energy and fun. For example, I have worked in: sculpture, jewelry, painting (acrylic, oils, pastels), drawing (ink, pencil, thread) collage, assemblage, installation (audio, robotics), books (handmade, self-published) and photography (film, digital, mobile, alternative process).
There are a few broad themes that I return to over 20 years across different media:
- I love faces. Which is funny because I am an introvert.
- I lost much of my eyesight by the time I was 8 years old. Without my contacts in, many of my closeup photos reflect how I see.
- I love flowers, trails, botanicals.
- And there’s everything else.
Tradition / Influences
My influences are a jumble across disciplines and time.
- Photography – Teachers Dan Burkholder, Brian Taylor, and Joel Slayton. Famous artists Josef Sudek, Frederick Evans, Karl Blossfeld
- Drawing – Lynda Barry, Mike Rhode, Ed Emberely, Eva Lotta Lam, Kris Hargis, and teachers Lisa Congdon and Kate Bingaman-Burt
- Portraits – Alice Neel, Lucien Freud, Roualt and teacher Jane Davenport
How am I different? I am not so sure I am. I can tell you though that:
- I am in general delighted by the world and attempt to convey some of that.
- I am intrigued and delighted by the discovery and expression of what makes each person a unique and individual personality.
- I cross the lines between disciplines in the spirit of exploring what works and what’s fun.
You can find out what I’m currently doing by following me on Instagram @JHartnettHender.