Reduced to Being an Artist

With this new year, I find myself taking stock of my work as an artist. 
This leads to introspection (and some dark corners!) and reflection.

I also am reading Alyson Standfield’s book I’d Rather be in the Studio in which she writes about having a signature style, something that sets you apart as an artist.  Good business advise no doubt.

This thought has been lurking in one of those dark corners… what does a Nanci Hersh look like?

A visit to my sidebar page Art: Working Through it All, one can see my different series of paintings, prints, encaustic and mixed media collage pieces and the context in which they were created.
One of my favorite shows last spring was a trip to MOMA where I saw the work of William Kentridge. Recently featured on Art21, we see him working in his studio, designing and collaborating with theatre, and how his political and social views come into play.

In another interview, William Kentridge spoke with Melissa Chiu of the Asia Society about “reduced to being an artist.” He said that when he first began, he wanted to be an artist but thought that you had to be an oil painter to be an artist. He wasn’t an oil painter, so he went to Paris to study theatre.
Within 3 weeks, he realized that he wasn’t an actor.
Kentridge then said that “… every clear decision I had made was wrong, and the only things that saved me were things I hadn’t decided, but which I discovered I was doing after the event”  (note: this is quoted or paraphrased as best as possible!)

Perhaps answers to questions about my own work lie may lie, not in clear decisions; the what or how but from the ongoing process of showing up in the studio, moving forward – even when I run the risk of not always seeing the clear path. The trust is in the doing.

Body as an Open Book, 2005
Digital print on handmade paper with collage
10″ x 22″

What are your thoughts on having a certain style, or is that irrelevant if you just keep working?


  1. Alyson B. Stanfield
    January 14, 2011

    Nanci: I’m confused by the last paragraph, but I think you mean that you will work your way through it.

    I am willing to bet that your work is more cohesive than you think.

    Are you a journaler? Thinking that journaling/blogging about your art (in much detail) might be helpful.

  2. Nanci Hersh
    January 14, 2011

    Thanks for your input. Not sure how I can say that paragraph clearer, but you got the jist (you know how artists think?!) anyway, yes I am a journaler that’s why blogging is a natural fit for me. I have been journaling for 40 years (shh!) of an on and have the boxes that I haved moved from NJ to NY to CA to HI to NJ to PA to prove it!

    But your are right, more detail about the work could be helpful.

    Thanks again!

  3. AK
    January 19, 2011

    hi nanci! i like – “even when I run the risk of not always seeing the clear path. The trust is in the doing.” i work to remind myself of that – some days its harder than others to get in to the studio and go with the flow, some days “the surf is to high”. so like you, for me, it is trust that what reveals, what grows, what comes does not always have to be “it” in the moment. yikes – writing about making art is harder than doing, LOL!


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