Clifford Rainey Lecture
AACG Board Meeting. St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco. 5th March 2011
A twenty-minute synopsis on my work.
In a time of conceptual pluralism what matters to me is the fusion and interjection between the content of a work and its fabrication. Art for me is like life, a journey of self-discovery with a humble beginning and an enriched end. My ideas are triggered by particular things and events rather than on abstract ideas.
First there is the invention of an idea, a notion, a whim. Next there is reasoning, justification and judgment. Then there is a period of research and drawing to hone the idea. Making. This involves “modeling” an idea into physical form when the brain and hand work in unison allowing for further creative discoveries.
Thinking through making is an important and integral element of my process: It allows the idea to develop and change, keeping the resulting form alive and vibrant.
My studio practice is eclectic in that I work in many differing materials, techniques, and ideologies. I think through drawing – the primal language. Drawing for me is the instant mark from mind to hand. It is the visual creation of an idea, the beginning of what is to come. Basically drawing allows me to think and develop an idea visually.
What drives my art?
First and foremost I have a deep respect for nature. A divine reverence filled with awe, fear, and wonder. I constantly explore the world around me with a spirit of inquiry. I love to travel, look, see, and understand. Conservation, ecology, anthropology are all rich subject matter. I believe humanity does best when nature is abundant.
I believe in the beauty of difference. I am politically and socially aware and am not afraid to be a catalyst for social change.
I often look to the Archaic, forms inspired by the past, the mythological, archeological, the historical. I am an anthropologist, tapping away, memorizing the cultural traces that make up the long walk - to today.
After many years I have acquired the skill and dexterity to craft my ideas with expertise. This expertise gives me the freedom to realize works that have been touched by my own hands. Finally; I try to put the knowledge of craft to the service of art and engage an ongoing discourse about art and its relationship to the contemporary world.
A Touchy Subject.
I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the relationship between the artist, gallery/dealer and collector/patron. Not unlike a metaphorical ship sailing toward its destination, the participation of each member of the crew is needed for a successful passage. In this time of financial uncertainty each element needs to support the other. Large discounts help destroy an artists life long attempt to build reputation and future appraisal value. It also helps to drive galleries out of business and devalues private and public collections.
Clifford Rainey is Chair of the Glass Department at California College of the Arts. His two newest works, Polychrome and Amphyctionis: Greek Goddess of Wine and Friendship Between Nations, debuted at Amorphous Dreams on March 3.
image: Polychrome, 2011. Glass, steel, gold pigment, gesso, oil paint. 58 x 16 x 16 in.