Ummm…I…um like your work? How to talk to an artist

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Ummm…I…um like your work? How to talk to an artist

img_1628resizedBeing able to meet an artist can be a fabulous experience…or incredibly intimidating depending on your adeptness at speaking with strangers who think way outside the box. If you are one of those that aren’t as comfortable, the entire Myhren gallery staff has prepared a short guide for you.  We’ve included the do’s and don’ts followed by a list of general questions.  Talking one on one with an artist allows you a unique opportunity to discuss what you find interesting and get your questions answered. Don’t worry about asking a question because you think it will make you look dumb or what you are supposed to ask. An artist has created a work to engender conversation and there isn’t a right or wrong response.

One thing you always want to make sure you do before approaching an artist, especially if you aren’t already familiar with his or her work, is spend some time looking at the work and read the artist’s statement.  The statement is where the artist verbally expresses what his or her work is about and can be a guide on what to look for or how to approach the art. It’s usually found at the entrance to a gallery or the beginning of a show. The best questions are always ones that have to do with your own observations.  It’s also a good idea to stick to content and the meaning of the work before asking technical questions.  If you really want to know what type of camera the artist used, ask after you’ve discussed the meaning of the work.  Now, if you do all this and you need some help getting the conversation rolling, we’ve prepared a list of go-to questions below.

What inspires your work?
What inspired the show?
What are you working on now?
How much time does it take to complete a work?
Have you always worked in this medium (painting, sculpture, photography, film)?
When you start on the final object do you have set ideas in mind for the finished product or does the work inspire you as you create it?
What do you want your audience to take away from your work?
Did the work change at all from your initial conception to the final outcome?
What challenges do you face when creating a piece?
Are there other artists who have influenced your work?

Remember these are normal people. They hate when their alarm clock goes off in the morning, their socks mysteriously go missing in the dryer, and they are also nervous meeting you! So relax and try out your new skills tomorrow with Cliff Evans during his opening reception.  Cliff beat the snowstorm in today and will be on hand to talk about his three channel HD video installation “Citizen” from 5-8pm in our gallery.  If you want to do a little homework before you come his website is a great resource.  If you don’t get a chance to talk to Cliff tomorrow, you can attend his presentation on Friday, January 8th at 11AM in Sturm Hall room 286.

As always see you on the flip side.