That line has followed me throughout my career. When I graduated from college and started pursuing a career in Art, I was told to be sure to "make a statement" if I wanted to be noticed. That didn't mean that I had to produce some awe inspiring work, but rather let my work say something to the viewer. Hmmm...again, what does that mean?
Beauty was supposed to be in the eye of the beholder, right, because everyone's perception is different? So now this posed my dilemma. Does having a skilled hand in drawing and painting make a statement or is it the subject, presentation and content of the piece?
I love to draw and paint botanically accurate, detailed floral pieces. I have been told at several different times that they were beautifully done but didn't make a statement! I spent years perfecting a skill and now what? When I was an adjunct Art professor teaching Textile Design to graduate students, in a university, I was told by the chairman of the department that very same thing. He alluded to the fact that I had a skilled hand and could draw and paint better than him (he was a photographer) but his work would sell before mine. The difference here being, he took a picture of a rose with great lighting etc. and I painted flowers to be used in patterns to create wallpaper and fabric. So what makes one a statement and not the other?
Ahhh...so I think I finally figured it out:
A statement has to do with function and presentation of your piece. I asked him this, "if I put a frame around one of my flowers would that turn it into a statement?" he simply said, "yes!"
My opinion is that the statement he saw was based on the presentation of a fine art piece. My perception of a statement is to let your piece create a function anyway. Mine is that a piece of fabric certainly does create a statement. It appeals to the buyer who will use it based on what she wants to say with it... THAT IS A STATEMENT!!