We are all trying to write or speak with the same hand we make with, but too often what we know resists language and we are stymied when asked, “What is your art about?” “What does it mean?” The process of finding words and of statement making can operate at a disembodied distance from the intelligent process of making. The words too often lack tactility or specificity and become peanut butter stuck to the roof of our mouths. But whether talking or writing—to oneself, a peer, a curator, or a public—whether writing a thesis or sketching in the studio, the insights of Anne West’s thorough collection of exercises and process offer ways of finding how making in words and making with materials—no matter the form—are mutual. How we name what we are doing can be as revelatory as the next video edit or stroke of a pencil—mutually bound and mutually made. 

— Ann Hamilton, Artist


Mapping offers a comprehensive and exhaustive analysis of the myriad ways that artists can embrace writing—as both tool and process: experimental, generative, speculative, analytical, critical. Within the context of great writing, West generously suggests provocative exercises that encourage deep examination of content and form. This extraordinary resource is the perfect companion to artists from all disciplines wishing to delve deeply into their practice and articulate what they find. 

—Joan Livingstone, Professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago


During a period when American public life suffers from a dangerous failure of the imagination because of an industry of distractions and the cultural dictatorship of cynicism, there comes this humble Manifesto of Sincerity to gift us with a quiet map out of darkness. This book is unquestionably the product of transformative field experiences. Thoughtfully constructed for visual artists, it should also be given to performing artists, writers, MBA students, and scientists; to anyone and everyone in critical need of thinking outside the box, of developing their voice, and the ability to hope again. The author generously shares her insights, her accumulated wisdom, in accessible handbook format. It is remarkably contemplative, with a wealth of priceless quotable truths. West’s book can serve as a class text, but also as the kind of magical document that one can open randomly and surrender to through an exercise or meditation.

—Ernesto Pujol, Founder & Director of the Field School Project & UteHaus Associated Performers


The brilliance of Mapping the Intelligence of Artistic Work is that it is neither template nor manifesto. Rather we find an authentic and refreshingly open ended guide allowing (encouraging) anyone of us, emerging artist or otherwise, to gravitate toward understanding our own unique and more often eccentric approach to art making.    Early on in the book it becomes clear that Anne West has been deeply informed, not only by the wisdom gained from her years of teaching at RISD, but also by having the ability to listen carefully to her students. 

—Warren Seelig, Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of the Arts/ Philadelphia