Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Artist Lecture - Clairissa Stephens

On April 24th in the Jot Travis, Clairissa Stephens presented a discussion and lecture on her masters of art exhibition as well as her love of land art. Displaying both works that would be shown in her exhibition and works of years past, she spoke about the driving forces of each piece and her inspirations as well. Unlike artists like Erika Harrsch, Stephens held a more simple approach and meaning to her works. She meant for each piece to be a new treasure in her travels, and she used them as newfound pieces of a map she herself made.

Clairissa held a vast love for discovering new things and mapping out unknown territory. In fact, she loved finding new treasures in her quests and hikes. 40.6159. -115.3987 was a clear example of this as it is a map of Thomas Canyon drawn on maple wood with silverpoint holding bighorn sheep wool in a container. Dated on the exact location it was found, the wool was a true treasure found for Clairissa when she and her husband could find no bighorn sheep in the canyon. I can relate very closely to this feeling and experience. I have been on many hiking and camping trips in my life, and I tend to take a small treasure home with almost every expedition. 40.6159. -115.3987 is a statement to the unexpected things we make find in a journey. Stephens loved looking at the change in an ecosystem and contours in spaces. Her work, Memory Map: High Rock Canyon, envelopes the truth that a map is never truly accurate in its content. The piece is presented on 14” by 20” embossed paper which holds a soft and comfortable touch. The embossed paper can be shifted and changed giving the impression that our memory can make a map of what we see, but it is flawed by our perceptions and time span. The world continues to change, and personally I loved this ideal she hit with her work.

Stephens held a great love for the changes in an ecosystem in aspect to light and color quietly over time, and she found even the most minor things to hold extreme significance. Her 2012 piece Aspens is a perfect example of a presentation of change in light and color. She made the trees out of organza and thread in order to give the impression of a quiet and soft movement in the trees. Furthermore, she used the materials to give the trees a sense of illumination. This is very astounding since it must have felt like you were in the woods themselves with the sense of tranquility it brought. Her most recent work, Crystal Peak Horizon Line, focuses on the horizon line that makes the relationship between the sky and the mountains for those of us who watch it. It uses quartz tied with string to make the line, and it gives an interesting view in that the sky is now the positive space as it is hung. Crystal Peak Horizon Line also reinforces that feeling of treasures in a hunt as every piece of quartz was taken from the location they stand in the horizon line. Stephens showed to be such a deep thinker in her pieces as well as creative in the way she exhibited them.

Overall, I quite enjoyed Clairissa’s lecture over her art. Land art was a new topic to me since I had only recently read about it in contemporary art, but I must say that she is a wonderful example of a land artist. Her reasons for her works really reached out to me since I myself have had many outdoors exhibitions and similar experiences as a child. It was almost like I was reliving memories from her words, and I greatly enjoyed the nostalgia that came with it. I do not find myself changed by her work, but I do find a part of myself revived by it. Her work was very inspiring, and I am very glad for going to both the lecture and the opening of her exhibition.

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