“Cohesive Body of Work”


I am an artist.

I art.

To me that means I keep moving, keep experimenting, keep trying new materials, new methods.  It fits my personality, my ADD.

It’s hard not to.  It’s why I ditched the Ph.D. track early on… getting a Ph.D. means you have specialized in something.  Something so  focused that you are perhaps the only expert in that one thing.  I couldn’t do it. Gave up a fellowship and left grad school.

Now, a couple of careers later, I’m back to my first (and only, apart from my amazing hubby) love — art.

When it comes to applying for shows, though, it’s coming back to me. Specialization. When I get rejections, I’ve been told show promoters don’t want to see the breadth of work that I’ve done — watercolor, ink, printmaking, etched glass, layers of glass, mirrors, etc. They want to see a Cohesive Body of Work.

That’s kinda a new concept for me.  Not that I don’t have it… my work is cohesive in theme — exploring the physical manifestation of poetry and language.  But from a viewer’s perspective, you don’t get that at first.  It takes some time to absorb. Ya gotta get closer.  So they’re right in the sense that you don’t see that there’s a Cohesive Body of Work in front of you. It looks like a mishmash of styles, which, I guess, it is, when I present it that way.

So I’m learning to present my theme as a visually Cohesive Body of Work. Group all the works together by materials and colors. Separate out the 3D from the 2D. Mirror backs go with mirror backs; watercolors on paper go with watercolors on paper. Etched glass with etched glass.

And you know what?  It looks great!

Only problem is… each style requires a separate application.  And maybe even a separate booth.  Wow.  Maybe I’d better specialize?


What are your thoughts?  Got any suggestions?  What’s your favorite piece or style? Enquiring artists want to know!

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