Talking about "voice" comes up time and time and time and time again among artists on several lists I belong to. Is it redundant? In a way yes, but it is always worth talking about because it seems to be an eternal quandary for artists. We worry ourselves to death about whether we are authentic, whether we are original, whether we are echoing somebody else's work, whether we are any good at all - and especially whether we are expressing ourselves in a way that is uniquely ours, aka VOICE.
Sigh...voices change as we grow. When my kids were little and called me at work, all three of them sounded the same, so I said "hi sweetie," till I could figure out from context who it was. After a few years their voices changed (espcially my son's). My daughters still sound similar but the context remains distinct for each of them: their personalities, what they say, and how they they say it allows me to identify their voices. I believe it is the same thing with our art. Don't you think so? At least, I would hope that none of us is making exactly what we made 5-10-15- 20-and more(for some of us) years ago.
Does this sound like my "voice?" Not sure anybody (but one or two people who saw this piece when I first made it) would identify it as mine.
I started this piece almost 15 years ago after I sat in a chamber music concert listening to a piece in a minor key. Then I wondered how you would express a minor key visually and decided to try. I was not happy with it because it was on a different background (and already quilted, btw) so I put it away till about five years ago, when I took it apart and changed the background fabric. (This is all irrelevant). Originally called Life in a Minor Key, I changed the title to Blue Note. (also irrelevant).
What is relevant is that as I look at the piece, so different from how I work now - my voice is there.
1) it is layered and I still work in layers, albeit with other processes, and 2) my work is still expressing life in a minor key -- whether it is obvious to the viewer or not.
I've said this before, I think - but it bears repeating. I once had to write an artist's statement for a solo exhibit. When I groaned, the gallery director said "tell me what you do and why you do it." It forced me to take out all my work, throw it on the floor, and look at it to see what it was about and what the common elements were. What I do and how I do it may have changed, but what a lot of my work is about has not changed. Listen to your work over the last 5-10 years and hear what it is saying - and you will know what your "voice" sounds like.
Remember - every voice has a range and sings a lot of different songs - but the underlying timbre is recognizable. What do you "hear" in your own work? Comments, please!