Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Grant Writing

Grant writing isn't easy. It's not the kind of thing that just anyone can do. You have to have a certain finesse with conveying ideas and articulating goals so that what you write sounds intelligent but not pompous. You have to be able to convince a panel that your project is somehow more worthy than someone else's.

I am not a writer. I have always felt that if I had a gift for writing, I would have been a writer and not a visual artist. I can put together sentences pretty well and even have the ability to sound intelligent, I do have a master's degree after all, which involved over two years of a lot of writing. But writing is not what I do best. It is not what comes naturally.  So you can imagine that when I decided to apply for the San Francisco Arts Commission grant I knew it was not going to be fun. 

Articulating my goals and explaining what the project entailed was easy enough. I've been tossing around my idea for a new body of work for awhile now. It was questions like "How will you know your project is successful?" "What is your envisioned impact on your target audience?" that I am having trouble with. How does one quantify what success looks like in a non-monetary sense? I assume that the judges don't want to hear  that I hope to sell a lot of paintings and make a bunch of money. I'm not sure what to really write for this section. I know how I want this body of work to look like and what I would like my audience to take away from this, but how do know whether or not they get my meaning? How will I know that they understand my work? How does any artist ever know this? Do other artists create art for themselves or for their audience or both?

When I create art, I create it for myself. I hope that it will mean something to the viewer but that's not something that I can control so I don't usually have them in mind. All I can do is hope that what I paint means something to me, that it's the best work I can do at that time, and if I am really lucky, it will mean something to someone else. I don't set out trying to illicit a feeling from my audience. It has never been my goal. But for this project, I am hoping that this new series that I am writing the grant for will mean something to other people too. It's a new direction that I have never really explored but that I feel is important now. I'm not sure yet how I will be able to tell if it does, though. I'm not sure how I will tell if I am successful. I'm still working on that section of the proposal. Any ideas?

Image: "Wheelbarrow", work in progress. 16" x 16"

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