Exercise 4 Writing an artist’s statement

Method used

Looking at the guidelines on how to write an artists statement as shown on the Artquest website and provided as LINK 43

Read the advice and guidance: How to write about contemporary Art Artist’s statement (pdf provided)

The following notes are important for this statement as were copied from Link 43

  • What media do you work with? What interests you about work of this type?
  • Why do you work in this media? Is there a relationship between the media and the ideas that you work with?
  • What processes are involved in the work and how are they relevant to the ideas you are dealing with?
  • What themes, ideas and concerns does your work uniquely consider?
  • Are there any outside influences and ideas, perhaps from outside the arts, which have bearing on your work?
  • What ties your individual pieces of work together into a practice?
  • Are there any particular theories, artists or schools of thought relevant to your work?
  • Is there an ‘intention’ behind the work; what do you want the work to achieve?

WHAT MEDIA: I have been painting, drawing and making 3d sculptures as a way to look at natural form and gesture and develop ideas. New and different materials opened up more exploration and making. It made me think where each work stand separately in space and or how the body of work has connections.

WHY: The fungal kingdom became a world in which to discover a vitality in living things. I started working in collaboration with an OCA textile student, (member of the OCA EU student group) She was inspired during lockdown by the fungal world she discovered first in her own backyard and started making fungi-like objects with natural and decaying materials, such as pastry dough, yeast and paper mache. This connection and sharing inspired my making and thinking about how artists can benefit from collaboration as well as learn from the non-living world. Deeper questions about myself, (existential) and how we impact the environment could be researched.

WHAT THEMES, IDEAS and CONCERNS By making and working with this natural form, ideas around connections, considering the other, and knowing interdependency came to the front. Objects made with paint, clay, and foam, took me to new ideas around experimenting with the materiality of forms and assemblages, by looking at how materials can flow into each other, lie on top of each other, sit next to each other as an object, I discovered it could be placed next to a painting or drawing.

WHAT TIES YOUR INDIVIDUAL PIECES OF WORK TOGETHER INTO A PRACTICE As my project developed and I read and researched more, as well as worked with my collaboration partner, my work became a reminder of fungi as collaborators and how I view relationships between things as well as that which I care and treasure and experience as important. We worked over a distance of around 12500 km and could only share work digitally. I learned from mycelium, fungi, trees and lichen which could become imprints, paintings and objects, that they became a sort of stand-in for connections and having a practice that sometimes seems disconnected and or lonely. I relied on reading and researching the work of other artists, searching for new materials, and allowing my imagination as a collaborator in this mostly unseen world. It made me think about ignorance, awareness, being visible, transparency, symbioses, and possibilities to materialise the invisible, as well as connections and possibilities to work in a world, which does not always imply physical nearness, but working in the digital space. It is a great reminder of my studies up to now.

PARTICULAR THEORIES definitely came to the front: new Materialism and agency of the non human as well as ideas about collaboration, symbioses and Nature.

INTENTION BEHIND THE WORK an awareness of our damaged world and learning form nature, like the Fungal Kingdom to be resilient and dependent on each other

Exercise 4.1. The Elevator Pitch

I am immediately aware that this is referring to voice, a type of talking, telling someone what I do – having something to say, not writing or sharing on social media. The most vivid is a bit of a stressed feeling of experiencing limited space and time. I feel stressed and almost claustrophobic to think of making this pitch!

What do I do and why do I do it

This is important and I realise it is an opportunity to say what I do, in different ways to different people. It is scary the realise that this also makes a long-lasting impression in terms of how I am seen by others, that first impression. I mostly tell people that I study Fine Arts. I should find the space to see that this pitch should mostly be about my WHY, but also be able to intrigue the listener to ask more about my work – to create interest in my work.

Experimenting and Reflection

Below are some ideas in different text colours and backgrounds to stand out as different options I could use:

I work with mixed media and do paintings and drawings with materials like charcoal, paint, clay, and ink and also like to make objects. My main ideas and concerns are about human and non-human interactions, currently, I work on a mushroom project which is very exciting and will lead to an online exhibition with fellow students.

When I paint, draw or make art, I like to think and explore; currently, I work on fungi and it reminds me of my connections and interdependence as a social being.

I currently study Fine arts and enjoy developing my artistic ideas with different materials, such as charcoal, paint and/or clay.

I am a mature Fine Arts student and love to explore different media. I work mostly with Charcoal, Oil Paint and Soft Pastels, and my work is about human and non-human interaction. I would also like to make more 3d sculptures, currently, I enjoy working with clay.

When I make art it is mostly because I am inquisitive and like to explore ideas and different media. I see this as my visual language which I am developing as a mature art student with OCA, London.

I study fine arts and have become comfortable sharing my work on Instagram. I write a blog and have a website, which shows mainly my work for the course, as well as my learning. My work is mostly explorative and I use different materials to make art.

For our online exhibition, Annette and I had to write about our work and I will share our artist statement below:

This collaborative work is about a shared connection with the fungal universe and our response to each other’s making. Our collaboration reminded us of mycelia connected to plants over large distances, exchanging nutrients. We learned that we could work together over an average distance of 12 406 km to create and infuse each other to wander into new techniques and materials. We connected via social media platforms where new learning and ideas for making were shared and discovered.  We look at this work as a fusion of drawing and mushroom sculpture installation.  Like lichens are formed through the symbiosis of algae and fungi, our separate, material artworks fused into a new, digital one.

We decided on the name of our digital work, Involution: fungi, forests, humans.

The digital work is made of a 96 x 110cm Charcoal and shoe wax drawing on Vellum paper, and mushrooms made from yeast and pastry dough, egg white, paper mache and diverse papers, placed on silk noil dyed with hazelnut ink.

Entwined, 2022 Karen Stander

My own writing for the clay sculpture, Entwined

As I became more enchanted with the life of fungi I worked with clay and created a sculpture for this exhibition which is inspired by connectedness and how it shaped me in my own creative practice during this collaboration opportunity. 

In my studies with OCA, I am exploring the fungal kingdom, and this fascination led to a body of work, which is still ongoing. For WWW work, I collaborated with Annette Holtkamp, a textile student, by reacting to her made fungi sculptures. A charcoal drawing started as a dream of these objects in their natural environment, and a found photo was used as inspiration. I worked with wax, charcoal, vellum paper and an eraser to create a transparent drawing of a forest where mushrooms grow.  I became interested in how the fungal Kingdom is constantly pushing and pulling to invent new life and work alongside – a great metaphor for my own making with Annette. I am considering to destruct my work during the three months online exhibition period as a further material collaboration with the life of fungi and the role of mycelium in my own practice.


In March 2022 I joined a tutor-led Zoom meeting on ‘Using the Analytic of Making: Developing a way of speaking about works in progress. We looked at four of Berman’s Twelve Tendencies and I think there was good learning I could bring back to my reflection about my making. I was particularly interested in Rationalisation and Expansion, the rest was Clarification and Ennoblement.

Reading the quotation by Brian Eno it is important to question how I articulate what and how and why I do what I do. Whilst making one is always busy with what and why – the subject, the materials, the composition and sharing how in my blog writing made me think more about my practice and how it has evolved since I started studying with OCA. I do think by writing about my work over the course, I was always confronted with my making practice, considering how my abilities to reflect and react on projects developed. In tutorials, I was made aware of shortcomings such as developing more when a work opens ideas – exploring the making and considering how works sit together. This made me consider the assessment criteria and review my work against them. My Parallel project opened new making and exploring materials and to consider New Materialism ideas as well as link them to my own love for nature and the opportunity to be in nature (walk and interact within the space) learn and make at the same time.

I contemplated the layout of my Parallel project and wrote a separate blog using text as part of the body of work that reflects on this project. This is something I would like to continue exploring alongside my practice.

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