Claire-Clair-Clear III by Claire Moore
colored pencil and gouache on paper, with clay handprint wall fixtures.
12 x 19 inches
year created: 2020
“In my series entitled Claire-Clair-Clear, each layer of material builds upon the last, creating an entirely disconnected internal self-portrait. As a playful allusion to the French translation of my name, “clear,” the layers are manipulated to either expose or hide my own figure. My body is prevalent throughout the work, though sometimes only through her absence.
Dutifully collecting materials from my everyday existence, I curate my sources through a rational and observational lens. My visual vernacular unifies each piece through shared symbolic meaning. However, the construction of my work is completely intuitively driven and allows for alteration and expansion at any moment. Claire-Clair-Clear addresses my own frenetic emotional landscape, but with a language that’s directed and logical.
My artistic process is motivated by a compulsory need to create evidence of myself. Because I frequently feel disengaged from reality, I’m constantly searching for ways to prove I am here. My hand renders what my eyes see...but my heart often feels detached from the practice. Through the deliberate physical, conceptual, and emotional act of making, I combat this separation. I am able to align my mind and my body because of art.
Deliberately using everyday materials in my work spotlights tangential connections made through the daily occurrences of life. Depicting my face and figure quite literally draws a link from my own internal world to an external one. Self-portraits printed onto packaging scraps and plastic bags: they’re proof of my existence, however momentary.
Much of my work starts in a singular emotional response. I’ll have a particularly foggy day, one where I’m especially detached from reality, and try to find a way to express that sensation. As you might imagine, articulating the experience of not feeling is really difficult. Because of this, I tend to work around the void. Shifting the focus from absence, I use the experience of pushing against it, past it, through it--as a tool for talking about it by comparison.”
Artist’s Connection to Theme: I have lived with depression for my entire life and developed generalized anxiety disorder when I was in my early twenties. Even before being cognizant of what either of those diagnoses actually meant, I was always hyper aware of feeling disconnected. When I was younger, this caused a constant state of mild panic. A sense of overwhelm within an odd, stifled experience. Completely sensorially overstimulated while being unable to actually reach through the clouds to the source.
Dissociation is so contradictory. I feel like I don’t exist, like other people aren’t real and that is, frankly, a terrifying notion. But for many of us, the experience is so common, such a part of daily life, that it becomes the norm. It’s only when I suddenly have a moment of clarity and am forced to grapple with the disconnect between my mind, body, and surroundings, that it’s starkly apparent.
Long before I was consciously aware of it, I perceived the acts of creation and the presentation
of artwork as both rooted in performativity and resulting in performance. There is a performativity
in simply existing within society. Breaking it down to a base level of communication, performance really is the main motivation of any artist. Even when the chosen media isn’t their own body or captured on video, even if their final “product” lives on a gallery wall or pedestal. The performance may occur behind closed studio doors at first, then reemerge in front of the viewer. We perform our own ritual when creating, however varied that may be. Then we elicit an outside perspective, post-creation. We ask the audience to engage with the work, to perform their role of observer.
The impetus for my own work is finding myself in constant conflict. Trapped in the confines of my personal performativity: as a woman, as an individual with mental health disabilities, as someone who presents as normate. Through the performance of my process, I attempt to subvert the gaze of the viewer. I don’t create work for them, for you. Within my work, I am not only the object, but the subject and the viewer. I scrutinize my own face, my own being, so you don’t have to. Sometimes I peer back out, into the viewer’s space. Blatantly displaying myself as the subject depicted, I am objectified through my own introspective needling. How can I prove to be more than this representation? Who am I really? What does it mean to be?
Image Description: Drawings with white clay palm imprints at top edge of paper. Drawing I depicts the burgundy-colored sketchy outline of a woman (Claire) standing in the middle of the page. Claire's body is not fully rendered, though she casts a deep indigo and violet shadow beneath her. She is holding two blue-tinted sheets of plastic, painted with contrasting blue and orange portraits of Claire's face. They overlap and intersect with each other due to the transparency of the plastic. The background around Claire is dark forest green on top with burgundy swaths and is sporadically erased out in reverse marks. The green fades to white/nothing at the bottom of the page. Drawing II depicts Claire fully covered in a blue-tinted plastic bag, the front of which is painted with a warped self-portrait in varying shades of green. There is a fair amount of reflective quality to the plastic, with the left area highlighted and the right darker. Underneath the plastic portrait, Claire’s face and torso are rendered in deep burgundy with value shifts indicating form. This is a cropped view, showing only her chest, shoulders, and face. She is peering out at the viewer. The background is a dark, nearly black, forest green and indigo, with several reverse marks.
Claire Moore is an interdisciplinary artist, designer, and educator. Her primary focus is the act of giving physicality or visual space to the intangible. She’s truly inspired by the impact people can have upon one another and themselves. Leading art workshops, founding artist collectives and gallery spaces, and serving on city arts and culture boards has strengthened her belief that absolutely everyone is creative and in the incomparable power of community. Claire was recently hired as the Arts Program Specialist at the Ann Arbor (Michigan) Center for Independent Living, where she designs, schedules, and hosts an online art workshop series. Initially created in response to COVID-19 closures, the virtual arts program has developed into a permanent fixture at the CIL. Claire collaborates with participants regarding the curriculum and design programming to support people with disabilities: adapting all classes and/or techniques in real time to support physical capabilities, as well as a variety of sensory needs. Claire is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree at Eastern Michigan University. Her thesis exhibition and defense will occur this December.
Frame: Fixtures/wall mounts are air-dry clay imprints of Claire’s own grasped palms. They are a literal attempt to grab onto something, anything, as proof of her own existence. Mounted to the wall via industrial grade Velcro, each fixture has a corresponding wall Velcro strip with an adhesive backing. She has chosen NOT to frame any of her work, due to the nature of the concept. Dissociative disorders often manifest in a lack of a sense of embodiment, so framing/containing the work seems counterintuitive. The slight bends and waves in the watercolor paper are desired and mimic the movement of the plastic sheeting originally used for her still lives.
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