Artist’s Spotlight: @charlesclary !

This week’s artist’s spotlight is on @charlesclary !

  1.  Tell me a little about yourself.

“My name is Charles Clary and I am a paper artist currently living and working in SC. Im currently the Foundations Coordinator at Coastal Carolina University where I teach a wide range of class including 2D Design, 3D Design,  Drawing I, Drawing II, and Concepts in the Artistic Process. I grew up in Tennessee and received my BFA in painting with a minor in illustration at Middle Tennessee State University and then went on to get my MFA in painting at the Savannah College of Art and Design.”

2. What made you interested in paper cutting as an art form? 

” I got into paper cutting by pure happenstance. i was awarded a residency in NYC when i was going to Grad school and got to live and work in the city for 4 months. I was still exploring painting at the time but found that my work was moving in a more 3 dimensional avenue. I started doing these large scale wall drawings that incorporated cut out illustrations of characters I was creating at the time but found that they were just the tip of iceberg of what was to come. Since the studio I was working in didnt have a woodshop I had to find creative avenues to explore this new venture. On a trip back home from my internship at Pierogi Gallery I happened upon a paper store just outside the fashion district and decided to stop in. Martha Stewart at the time was making beautifully colored scrapbook paper that measured 15″ x 15″ and I was taken. I grabbed as much as I could and went back to the studio to play around. I was hooked from that moment on. The work started out small due to the restraints of the paper I was using but eventually evolved into the large scale installation work I do today. There is a sense of delicacy and fragility with the work but also stability and an overwhelming quality as well.”

3.  What are some of your current inspirations in creating your art?

” I find inspiration in the strangest of places. As a child I really wanted to become a microbiologist but after being subjected to movies like Andromeda Strain and Outbreak I moved on. That imagery stuck with me though. The complexity of viral and bacterial colonies, mold, mildew, necrotic flesh eating diseases, anything of the sort really resonated with me. I also find inspiration in fungi, computer generated sound waves, and topographical land formations. I also find a lot of inspiration in the practical effects of horror films. i guess you can say I love macabre imagery. Any kind of mourning jewelry or mementos are also inspiration and have a direct correlation to my frame installation work. Music, any genre metal, symphonic, rockabilly, 90s alternative,  is a big inspiration as well and informs a lot of the shapes i use in the work.”

4.  Can you talk about the first art piece you created.

“So I think the first major piece I created that put me on the path I am on today is “Triple Radimacue Infestation”. This was a piece I created immediately when I got back from my residency in NYC. It was my first exploration into large scale installation. It was 6′ x 45′ and was comprised of over 100 paper towers, 6 large panels, and 3 smaller panels. It was my break out piece and was exhausting to create. Since the paper was 15″ x 15″ to 12″ x 12″ it needed support structures to live on so I derived a system of cutting out panels, made of wood, in very organic shapes mimicking that of bacteria or fungal growths. I ebbed and flowed off the wall creating rythmic undulations that made the work come to life. It was an exhilarating experience that I never looked back from. “

5.  Do you have any exciting news or events that you would like to share?

“It has been a whirlwind summer especially dealing with COVID ant the necessary shutdown, but shows still went on. I work in multiple different bodies of work at a time so different iterations of the work was shown this summer. In June I had the privilege of having a solo exhibition at my gallery Paradigm in Philadelphia where I showed “Be Kind Rewind” an exhibition that dealt with the nostalgia and escapism of film by creating paper sculptures from 1000 found vhs boxes. the show will have come down by the time this comes out but the work will still be available at  I also have solo show that is up now at The Jones Carter Gallery in Lake City SC. this exhibition is titled “Memento Morididdle” and consists of 355+ frame works that explores the notion of trauma, loss, and healing.

This will be up until November of this year. I’ve also been included in several group shows at my other gallery RO2 in Dallas Texas exploring. Up now is a group exhibition that explores current conditions and contemplations of a world in the midst of a pandemic. Along with exhibitions Im also very active with conferences and will be speaking at The Death and Culture Conference with my paper “Transforming Memento Mori: A Contemporary Lens” and the annual SECAC conference with my paper “Memento Mori: A Struggle With the Past. “

If you like to know more about Charles Clary and his work. This is his contact information:

Instagram: @charlesclary


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