present - JULY
In the last few years, it seems Christine Clark’s sculptural work has jumped off the floor and started floating from the ceiling. Based on the work published on line, I’ll speculate that this jump came during her time working with ceramic during a Kohler fellowship in 2014, when she was paradoxically thinking about emotional and physical weight. “Hold,” her new contribution to Front of House gallery, definitely evokes weight and the strain of resisting gravity, but the overall impression is one of play and lightheartedness.
The brambles overhead do, as Clark herself suggests, evoke a cloud, but there is the potential of a dormant raspberry patch in them as much as a brooding swirl. And how can one pass through this surreal display of the internal organs of beloved cartoon characters without smiling? Is it disappointing that they don’t squish delightfully when squeezed? Perhaps – feeling the state of suspense these colorful organic shapes are in – we are also in that moment after our cartoon hero has run off the cliff, but before we realize that gravity does, in fact, apply to all of us
My desk in the office faces Clark’s installation, and while she was building it we had a brief moment of sun break through the gloom. The shadows cast, and the light play of line and mesh fabric on the walls, lead me to hope for a sunny Spring around here. I urge you to come back and see it in its different guises.
Christine Clark immerses herself in process while working with a strong craft based awareness with attention to handwork and detail. She often engages with repetition and multiples as her subject matter directly relates to the populace – habits, routine, idiosyncrasies and experiences in daily life. Although her approach to portraying concept is abstract, she subtly offers a message while providing visual and emotional stimulation. Working primarily in installation and public art, she works in steel, steel wire, and mixed materials including fabric, cast resin, and concrete.
She has regular solo exhibitions as a member of Nine Gallery, a non-profit alternative art gallery that specializes in experimental and installation-based work in Portland, Oregon. She has permanent public works at Eastern Oregon’s Pierce Library, Bainbridge Island, WA, as well as two forthcoming projects in Everett WA, and in Portland. She has been awarded Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship and Career Development Grants and was awarded John Michael Kohler Arts/Industry and Ucross residencies. She is a long time professor at OCAC and teaches workshops at schools such as Penland, Haystack, Arrowmont and Appalachian Center. She holds a BFA from the University of Washington and an MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology.
The word ‘hold’ conveys a myriad of definitions, from negative connotations of capacity to loving references of embrace. “Hold” is an abstract representation of the dichotomies that incessantly surround us. We function within an endless divide and are unable to resolve what is useful and what can be forsaken. Gravity pulls down on these cheerfully child-like forms. It tugs at us both physically and emotionally, as a swirling cloud of brambles looms overhead. Is it a protective ceiling or a foreboding body moving downward?
Moving though the clothed shapes implies a kind of social space: one is invited but must be cautious and aware. It is a negotiation of boundaries between the physical artwork and desire to subsist amongst it. There are intersections between gravity, space and emotion, a concurrence of strength and fragility through hard and soft. The repetitive aspect reminds us that we are creatures of habit – we do the same things over and over, with slight variations whether our choices are good or disastrous. It’s an environment that is absorbing, inviting and playful as it crowds us with thought and suppression.