A compendium of craft masquerading as art, art masquerading as craft, and craft extending its middle finger.

Monday, May 08, 2006


This is a long-overdue post--a fawning paean to Claire Joyce, Glitter Painter, Extreme Crafter of the highest order, and, coincidentally, my betrothed. Claire received her undergraduate degree from the Kansas City Art Institute, where she majored in eclectic mayhem. When she wasn't sewing costumes for debauched rock band SSION, she was busy orchestrating debauched costume events. Claire was part of an emerging proto-Extreme Craft scene in Kansas City that included puppeteers, designers, lesbian embroidereresses, and all manner of creative types consumed with wallowing in (and simultaneously destroying) domestic handicraft culture and stereotypes. Upon graduation, she spent months and months on the road with our mutual friend Kate Legere, in a pink van with a vinyl graphic of a bullet bra on the side. Kate and Claire were running for president on the DOMESTICRATIC party ticket, which was described by Yahoo! in it's daily picks section thusly:

With a thoroughly retro perspective, two ambitious young ladies have created the Domesticratic Party and launched their campaign to be co-presidents in 2004. Claire Joyce and Kate Legere, the presidential hopefuls, have a simple mission: to mother the nation by feeding everyone pie and tucking them into bed at night. "Let us be the ultimate Oedipal figures," they declare. The centerpiece of their crime and punishment platform is a national bedtime to promote a well-rested, less crabby country. These candidates are neither pro-choice nor pro-life, just pro-mom. To promote world peace, they plan to bake pies and brownies for foreign leaders. Finally, the Sunday after they're sworn in, they'll host a White House potluck to meet every person in America. If your last name starts with A-D, please bring an appetizer.
Claire became entwined by kudzu in 2003, and enrolled in graduate school at the University of Georgia....in PAINTING! She steadfastly avoided picking up a paintbrush, choosing instead to create make-out booths, giant hoopskirts, Wax-Print fabric quilts, and other projects designed to make traditional painting faculty curl into a fetal position. I'm going to go ahead and take credit for Claire's current obsession--GLITTER! Before she left on a trip to Ghana, she made a postcard for me that was covered in the stuff, then upon her return, figured out how to make paintings with it, laying down flat areas of glue, and covering them in glitter. Her first painting was of a steak, created for a show that some of her fellow grad students had organized at a steakhouse. The glitter steak was a mind-blower...so masculine, so steak-y, yet...so PINK and GLITTERY!

From there, Claire started experimenting with creating gradations in the glitter by sprinkling and intermingling different colors onto the glue. It was apparent from the beginning that she was on to something, as the images of hairdryers, rabbits, and unicorns became more and more complex. With her newfound chops firmly in place, Claire locked herself into her thesis project, among the most ambitious that I have ever encountered. For her thesis exhibition, she was planning a triptych of four foot by eight foot baroque glitter paintings, divided into smaller panels, but unified in theme.

Each painting avereged out to well more than a month of long days spent with the glue and glitter, but the final product was epic: A Quarter Life Crisis in Three Parts. The first painting, Part 1: Centering my Universe depicts her birth, among dogwood blossoms and icons from her childhood. Part 2: Acquisition and Expansion (a universe seems infinite) focuses on images and icons of freedom and expression, testing the boundaries of adulthood. Part 3: Repression, yeah! Things go South hones in on experiences of living in the South, and grappling with maturity and the future. I encourage you to download some of the images at their maximum resolution so that you can appreciate the detail. I was a huge fan of the paintings, but nothing prepared me for how dazzling they were when presented in proper lighting on a museum wall. The images literally reached out and grabbed the viewer, drawing them into the richness of detail and color in the glitter. Gemlike does not begin to describe their presence. Glitter has certainly been used in painting before, notably by Georgia resident Joni Mabe, but I don't know of anybody who begins to match Claire's mastery of it.

Just like many of us in the arts, Claire was raised on craft, learning to sew and make things for herself at a young age, and she retains that sense of wonder, even as she combines it with a decidedly adult sense of composition, color, and theme. A Quarter Life Crisis in Three Parts deftly combines epic themes with personal narrative and a dialogue with craft. The thesis show has unfortunately ended, but you should have your second chance to see the paintings soon, as Claire wades through multiple offers of solo shows resulting from the exhibition. A website for her work is in the pipeline, and Extreme Craft will certainly buzz with Claire activity as soon as it goes online. In the meantime, enjoy this gallery of Flickr photos of the Triptych and its attendant close-ups.



At 5/09/2006 09:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr.Craft (aka Johnson),

I notice folks don't comment much. I just wanted to say I try to get to your site daily. I think of it as my craft treat for the day.
I'm a student of Tyler Lotz and he speaks highly of you.


At 5/26/2006 03:42:00 PM, Blogger CWC said...

Sounds like I left KC too early -- had I known there would be Extreme Crafting, I might never have moved away.

Aw, who'm I kidding? ;-)

Be that as it may, the point is that Claire's stuff is gorgeous. Rock on.

At 9/15/2007 01:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm an undergraduate Spanish minor at UGA and I just wanted to let you know that our professor assigned us to write an essay on a piece of art and these pieces are one of the options we have. I just wanted you to know that students are already studying your work! The piece is amazing and I'm looking forward to writing that paper!



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