An Artist’s Statement, But…

by Patricia Tector, former NAN Director of Judges’ Certification
This article first appeared in NANthology, the NAN newsletter, in winter 2010. Click here to see the original publication.

Many, if not most, people understand the importance of having an artist’s statement accompany an entry for a judged/juried exhibition.  This is especially true if they are entering an original piece or an adaptation or a painted canvas without a stitch guide.

In order for a piece to be considered original, the design and execution of the piece must be totally done by the stitcher.  A piece is designated as an adaptation when the concept has come from a different source, e.g. a photograph, a painting, an advertisement, a picture in a magazine, etc., and the stitcher has transferred the design exactly or in a format that has been strongly suggested by the original source.  A painted canvas without a stitch guide is self-explanatory.  In all cases, the stitcher makes decisions about colors, threads, stitches and finishing. In order for the judges to understand the decisions made about choice of design and execution of such, an Artist Statement is very helpful and, in the case of an adaptation, a photograph or photocopy of the source of the design must accompany the statement.

But, this piece that is being entered is a class piece, or a kit, or a painted canvas that came with a stitch guide.  Why should one include an Artist Statement with this type of entry?  As much as each judge tries to stay current with such types of pieces, there is so much being produced that it is a challenge to do so.  Therefore, a judge might not know that you have changed some threads or colors or choice of stitches in the piece from what was originally specified.  These changes may or may not have enhanced the piece. By including an Artist Statement with the entry, this provides the judges with evidence that this piece may be different from others in which the directions were followed without making any changes.

While this may not have any effect on the points given because the entries in this type of category are primarily judged for technique and finishing, there may be an opportunity for the judges to give “Zowie” points – usually 1-5 extra points. These “Zowie” points are usually given because there is something noteworthy, e.g. change of color or type of thread used, about the piece and there is not another way to recognize this in the judging process.

Also, when there is an Artist Statement that describes some of the changes made to the class design, kit or painted canvas with stitch guide, this may encourage others who view the piece to be inspired to try something different in their stitching.

People come to an exhibition for many reasons:  to admire, to see something different, and to be inspired.  An Artist Statement that accompanies a piece allows the viewer to have a fuller appreciation of the needleart they see before them.