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Writing Tips for Art and Art History

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Presentation on theme: "Writing Tips for Art and Art History"— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing Tips for Art and Art History
Rachel Loewen Walker, BA, MA University of Saskatchewan

2 Components of an Essay Introduction Body Conclusion List of Sources

3 Thesis Statement The thesis statement is the most useful component of any piece of writing - both for you and for the reader The thesis should be persuasive, not merely explanatory WHAT are you going to say? HOW are you going to say it? WHY is your topic relevant to the reader?

4 Example Thesis Statement for an Article Summary on . . .
Williams, L. (1997). A provoking agent: The pornography and performance of Annie Sprinkle. In. K. Conboy, N. Medina, & S. Stanbury (Eds.), Writing on the body: Female embodiment and feminist theory (pp. 360 – 379). New York: Columbia University Press.

5 Poor Thesis Statement Williams says that Annie Sprinkle is a controversial artist. So what?

6 Better: Descriptive Due to Annie Sprinkle’s work as a performance artist and a pornographer, Williams discusses how Sprinkle is considered a controversial artist.

7 Even Better: Persuasive
In her discussion of Annie Sprinkle’s art practice, Linda Williams argues that through her controversial blending of performance art and pornography Annie Sprinkle challenges the boundaries of both fields.

8 Introduction: Start Strong
Use a quote to introduce topic Use an anecdote: a story from the news or from your own experience Use a shocking fact: In a 1990 performance, Annie Sprinkle invited audience members to the stage to explore her speculum Then transition to your thesis, being sure to include an essay map for the reader which indicates the main topics you will use to support your thesis.

9 Body Develop two or three themes within the paper
1. Description of Sprinkle’s art practice 2. How does Williams theorize Sprinkle’s art practice? 3. Implications of her work for performance theory If you were writing a longer paper you would develop subpoints under each of these themes: 2.1 How Sprinkle challenges ideas about gender 2.2 How she challenges people to think differently about the body 2.3 How she challenges the moral boundaries around pornography

10 Conclusion Strategies
Restate thesis and main points (not verbatim) – usually sufficient for an article/artist summary Discuss a relevant cultural piece/event/ show that illustrates your main points Explain why what you have written is important – implications of your argument Point toward future research projects (your own or others) that stem from your paper

11 Artist’s Statement There are many different ways to write an artist’s statement It should reflect your own original style – so it should be a place for you to be creative However, it also has to be clear, concise and correct

12 One Example First Paragraph:
Begin by giving a simple statement of why do what you do Support this by telling the reader more about your goals, motivations, and aspirations Second Paragraph: Tell the reader how you make decisions in the course of your work How and why do you select materials, techniques, themes, or pieces? How do these materials/choices impact the work? Or make it unique? Third Paragraph: Tell the reader about your current work How it grew out of prior work or life experiences What are you exploring, attempting, challenging by doing this work?

13 Writing Exercise Think about what you do. How did you get into this work? What are your favourite things about your work? Make a list of words and phrases that communicate your feelings about your work and values

14 Answer the following questions (without thinking too much!)
What is your favourite tool? Why? What is your favourite material? Why? What do you like best about what you do? What do you mean when you say something has turned out really well? What patterns emerge in your work? (Textures, colours, etc.) What is your favourite colour? List three qualities of the colour – now think about how these qualities apply to your work

15 Now look at the words that you have . . .
Write five sentences that tell the truth about your connection to your work or your curatorial practice

16 For Artists: For Curators: When I put together a ____ I try to express ______ . I begin conceptualizing an exhibit by ________. I know a show is done when ______. When my work is going well, I feel a sense of ________. When people see my work/exhibits/shows, I’d like them to ________ When I work with ________ I try to express________. I begin a piece by _______. I know a piece is done when ______. When my work is going well, I feel a sense of ______. When people look at my work, I’d like them to ________.

17 Now turn it into something useful . . .
Take your sheet of words and brainstormed ideas and write a three-paragraph statement Use “I” statements Be clear and brave about your own skills Then LET SOMEONE read this draft giving you suggestions Now you have a starting point for your artist’s statement

18 Helpful Hints The less opportunity for your reader to lose confidence in you the better Sadly, a well-written paper with mediocre ideas will generally do better than a poorly written paper with brilliant ideas - and all it takes is a good edit!

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