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Clara McClenon

I love hot sauce, libraries, and the way leaves shimmer in treetops.

My fascination with how we understand the world has taken a winding path through science and art. I started my search for answers in the study of perception and cognition. I earned my Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience from Washington and Lee University and then went on to spend two years at UC Davis’ Center for Mind and Brain researching the relationship between visual attention and working memory. All the while, I drew. I didn’t think I was an artist, but drawing helped me make sense of things when the endless stream of books I read— on the mind, on consciousness— left me feeling increasingly muddled.

Sensing that the answers I craved were somehow more likely to be found in the studio than the lab, I pursued a unique dual-degree program at the University of Michigan, earning a Master’s of Fine Art and a Master’s of Science in Information. For four years I drew, read, studied, and worked across departments, researching how data becomes information and how information becomes meaning. Graduating without answers after 21 years as a student, I realized that my curiosity wasn’t academic or intellectual. I realized that my questions about the mechanics of the brain, the structures of information, the commonalities of science and art had been smaller questions of the big questions that animate us all: “What does it mean to be alive? …. How should we live?”

Now, living in New York, I take poet Mary Oliver’s lines as my charge:

“Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished
Tell about it.”

I do this as a teacher, an experience consultant, and especially an artist. My studio is in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I’d love to have you over sometime.

 Thank you for being here. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch!