Stella Cretek

An Artist’s Statement (How to Write One)

By - Mar 11th, 2009 10:28 am
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judithann_artistsstatementI was just a little kid when I picked up my first ever crayola and made a mark on paper. Oh, it was exciting to realize I too could be an artist. In kindergarten I won an award for the best drawing of a single line. My family was very poor and so we had only one crayon (a red one!). I’ve been using one color (red) ever since those days. I owe it all to my mother who used one red crayon. My grandma was a big help. Her hair was red.

She was a huge influence, though it left a wide scar on my psyche when she died the day before her roots were retouched. It’s moments like that that shape artists and set them on their way.

I’m often asked what my paintings “mean.” I dunno. Art is in the eye of the beholder isn’t it? Leastwise, that’s what I hear. People who demand to understand art are off-track, which maybe is why I bombed out during my art education years. My professor told me that I must move on from making a single red line. That seemed unfair and, in many ways, elitist.

Stardom isn’t important to me, though sometimes I do feel a bit of envy when I notice art that is made with, say, two lines in green; but then again, we all have our special talents, and one line in red is mine. God works in strange ways. Did I mention that in third grade I won a prize for filling the most sheets of expensive paper with my single red line? The teacher hung it in the room as an example of flat-line thinking.

My advice to aspiring artists? Oh dear, well, I guess I’d say stick to your guns and don’t be swayed by choices now that you (perhaps) have an entire box of dazzling Crayolas. After all, it’s up to viewers to decide what my single red line means. It could be a deer peeking out from a forest, or maybe a sunset in the Rockies. Next year I’ve been invited to exhibit my one million drawings, which actually are Xeroxed copies of the piece I did in kindergarten so many years ago. Other artists have begun to steal my ideas, and I say More Power To Them. That said, I like to think I am the one and only original which is why I sign my name (Hortense “Honey” Swartzburger) in big black marker across the front of each piece. Snobs tell me that no respected artist scrawls her names on the front of her work, but that’s their problem.

My work is in various collections throughout the globe: SockitTumi Shoe Laces in Hiroshima, Bees & Babes Poster Shoppe in Hackensack (New Jersey), and even in the permanent collection at MOMA (Museum of Maligned Art) in Swampyville, Georgia.

Each and every day is spent Xeroxing my mark. It’s a lonely life but I’m not complaining. It’s what I do.

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