More Than They See

by Margaret Briscoe, NAN-certified judge
This article first appeared in NANthology, the NAN newsletter, in fall 2002

Have you ever looked at a painting, sculpture or needlework and wondered if maybe you were missing what the artist was trying to say? Was the obvious too obvious? Is there more to be learned from this piece than what you see? An Artist’s Statement is THE answer to many observers questions and definitely the only way to reach a judge with your thoughts. You, the artist/stitcher, have come up with a terrific idea for a piece of art and have agonized over the execution and presentation of it for many long months and now the actual process of committing it to the chosen ground has reached the other phase of creativity.

Before you touch needle to thread, please write down your thought process! How did you decide on the theme? Colors? Size? Stitches? Was the selection of threads a consideration in the planning? What is to be the use of this piece of artwork? Decorative or wearable? All of these decisions you have so carefully made are most important and serve as a guideline for the judges and the viewers when evaluating your piece.

When you begin your thought process, keep a brief ‘diary/journal’ of what you are thinking and the best ways of depicting these thoughts, scenes or colorful geometric. These can be brief sentences or words that jog your memory later when you make your final statement to accompany this masterpiece of your own making. You need not go into great detail concerning the process, only give the judge/viewer a look into the ‘how’, ‘why’, and ‘what’ you are conveying in this piece. It really isn’t difficult if you think of it as having a conversation with those who are enjoying your hard work. They need a bit of ‘nudging’ through to truly see all you are saying. No one is expecting a report from you, only a simple and direct explanation is all that is necessary.

Remember, no one is a mind reader, please help us along the way. It will help viewers, judges, and ultimately YOU, the artist.