Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Clinthorne Compositions Artist Statement 2012

In 2007, I received a Youth Ambassador Scholarship and lived with a host family
for one summer in Egypt. I had developed an interest in language during my first study
abroad, a one year program in Japan learning Japanese. Participating in study abroad
programs has led me to the knowledge that successful positive communication runs much
deeper than words alone.
Late in my first year of college, I discovered a new language, the language of a
curled leaf. One day I was out on a walk in the woods, when a cluster of dead leaves
caught my attention. The leaves resembled a group of hanging bats. Upon cautiously
studying the leaves closer, I realized that the forms I gazed upon were not leaves at all;
they were treasures. The contours of the curled veins took my gaze on a promenade
through compositions that were endlessly interesting. It was then that I looked down and
put my face near the forest floor to realize that it was covered with precious treasures;
every single fallen leaf had curled in the drying process to display countless variations of
a mysterious elegance. I took handfuls of samples home and observed the curling of
leaves over time. This event has seeded numerous questions in my mind and fueled my
artistic endeavors.
Gradually, I created a written vocabulary of words to interrogate my leaves. I
learned the grammar used by several species: Kukui- Aleurites moluccana, Lapalapa-
Cheirodendron platyphyllum, Trumpet-tree- Cecropia obtusifolia. I took extra Botany
classes in order to learn more about leaf functionality. Then after copying a leaf’s
sentence structure word for word, I began to create my own verse through the medium of
clay.
Later in college, I realized that a leaf’s language is just one dialect. I have become
fascinated with all things in their drying process, particularly insects. Anything growing
with water content will form natural tensions when drying that cause shapes to sway like
three dimensional calligraphy. Through observing the drying process of anything, I am
able to observe it’s natural architecture more fully, record it’s vocabulary and expand on
possible morphology.
Architecture of buildings and cities also interests me. Looking at pipes and
electricity lines, I am reminded of veins in a leaf. Rusting sheet metal or crumpled paper
often share characteristic patterns with decaying leaves. My focus is on the waste remains
after every part of an object has fulfilled it’s purpose or can no longer perform. The
unquestionable similarities between natural design and industrial design have led me to
believe that the delineation between the natural and the unnatural is becoming more and
more transparent.
It is no secret that rusty farm equipment, old books and ancient religious objects
are imbued with beauty that exists beyond their physical appearances. My drive for
fluency also goes beyond capturing the physical attributes of my observations. I am
searching to understand with fluency the beauty that exists in drying tensions and
remnants of function.
The summer I resided in the Islamic quarters of the older district of Cairo, I lived
in an apartment building that was several hundred years old. The building had the most
beautiful curved stairs that sloped downwards caused by the erosive footsteps of it’s
occupants over time. Although the stairs were uncomfortable to walk up, I remember
feeling a sense of mystery under my feet, knowing that hundreds of lives have depended
on these stairs for so long. When things fulfill their purpose to the utmost extent, their
beauty is exposed.
Presently, the melodic structure of my compositions has become the focus of my
building process. Audio is now an integral part of my exploration as well. My recent
pieces have sound components that do not have a predominant melody. The sound
provides an imaginary space for the melody of my physical artwork to exist. In this way, I
am able to sculpt melody, provide a more complete art to viewers and delve even deeper
into the language that captivates me.

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