Thursday, October 29, 2009

Artist Profile: Sue Clancy

Sue Clancy, Norman
Interviewed by Ryan Pack

Hare Styling
Handmade Paper and Painted Paper, Ink and Acrylic

Q: Your work is very humorous and usually involves a pun. I am curious as to where you get inspiration for your ideas. Do you ever have trouble staying motivated or creating ideas for your work?

SC: Yes, I take my humor very seriously! (Pun intended)

Regarding inspiration: I think there's an anthropologist in my artist's body trying to get out. I'm curious about culture, about how our cultural stories and metaphors - both visual and verbal - become tools we use to orient ourselves in the world. I observe things in our world, what people are doing, saying, how language gets used (and misused), about technology and its impact on society etc. and I read a lot of books about all of these various cultural phenomenon (both from the past and present - currently I'm studying the 19th century) and my experiences in culture, my thoughts about culture and what books I'm reading all inspire my artwork. By using the animal figure, and using humor, I'm creating conceptual stories that talk about the various aspects of being human I'm studying, by using the animal figure doing human behaviors I'm emphasizing the "behavior" and exploring what it is to be human. The short answer to your question is that I'm inspired by what makes us human – and culture is the “air” we breathe.

Regarding trouble with motivation and creating ideas:
No, I don't usually have trouble staying motivated and creating ideas, in fact I feel there aren't enough hours in the day or days in a year to do everything I want to do. As I mentioned in response to your question about inspiration, I'm motivated by what I'm learning about being in the world and being human. For me the act of creating art is a "university" or a way of learning about a topic, or a series of topics in my case. I value my sense of curiosity, that's what motivates me into my studio, that's what keeps me there absorbing all my time and attention. I want to learn stuff, I enjoy learning stuff and using words and pictures is my way of doing exploration.

I keep a sketchbook about the size and weight of Tolstoy's "War and Peace" - or a standard printed dictionary, if you're not familiar with the massive size of Tolstoy's work. In that book - and I have several of similar size - I keep every idea/thought I have regardless of whether or not I think they're "good" or "useable" at the moment I write the idea/thought down, this sketchbook is a "collecting ground" for all of my thoughts. In my opinion ideas are something to be developed, they don't come "fully formed", they're thoughts to be nurtured and "grown" from the seed of inspiration. I write in my book what I call "idea seeds". Then whenever it's time to work I'll select a seed, plant it (in additional information), develop it, and then polish the produce. (none of this happens overnight) And at my studio it's ALWAYS time to work. I've learned that the work creates the work. As I work on developing one idea another 5 idea seeds pop into my head. When I develop (or grow) my idea seeds it's me, my brain, processing information, selecting some things, discarding others, adding new learning, digging deeper into my thoughts, which are often based on my research on the "seed topic" and that's how I realize/create my ideas - very carefully, adding water, sunshine, fun and a lot of TLC.

Artist Ryan Pack, who is a former OVAC intern, profiles other Oklahoma artists to query them about their work and inspiration.

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