Works on View in SALON at David Klein Gallery

I’m happy to share that two of my drawings are currently on view in SALON, an exhibition at Detroit’s David Klein Gallery. The show is all work on paper and features drawings, paintings, prints and photographs by thirty-seven contemporary artists based in Detroit, the East Coast, West Coast and in-between. Other works include drawings by Mariana Olague, Judy Pfaff, Jessica Rohrer and my husband, Trevor King

David Klein gallery in downtown Detroit. Image from David Klein Gallery.

David Klein gallery in downtown Detroit. Image from David Klein Gallery.

The two drawings I have in the show were huge breakthroughs for me last summer and have really influenced the direction of my work this past year.

Treetops, Clara McClenon, charcoal on paper, 2018

Treetops, Clara McClenon, charcoal on paper, 2018

This drawing, “Treetops,” is based on an image I took in Caylus, France, where I was an artist in residence at DRAWinternational in 2015. For me, the checkerboard is another way to “explain” the beautiful flickering you get from light pouring through leaves. I had to be very careful drawing the small squares, and it took over 40 hours to draw all the tiny leaves in the upper part, but it was worth it.

Picture I took in McCarren park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn that was my reference for “Being a Woman”

Picture I took in McCarren park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn that was my reference for “Being a Woman”

The other drawing in the show, “Being a Woman,” started with a picture I took in McCarren park, which is in the neighborhood my studio is in (Greenpoint, Brooklyn). I was attracted to the round, portal shape in the middle, which reminded me of the round portal in my “Treetops” drawing. I started the drawing thinking that I might surround the tree scene with a checkerboard, like I had in “Treetops” but I wasn’t quite sure, and the drawing sat around my studio for a few weeks in a kind of half-way state.

Being a Woman, Clara McClenon, 2018, charcoal and gesso on paper

Being a Woman, Clara McClenon, 2018, charcoal and gesso on paper

It was late in September 2018 during the Kavanaugh hearings. I was in the studio, but my mind was there, and I was really trying not to look at my phone. It all made me inside out, with old hurts at the surface— vulnerable and furious. I starting hatching around the edge of the drawing that would become “Being a Woman.” I worked fast and pressed hard and, as it often does, Joanna Newsom’s song “Only Skin" came to me. There’s a line in there where she echoes twice, “…being a woman, being a woman…” that’s somehow always felt like a potent summation of feminine pain and power.

In between marks, I gave in to temptation and started scrolling through coverage of Dr. Blasey Ford testifying. I’ve never felt so thankful for Instagram as I saw woman after woman confirm I wasn’t alone. Working more, I passed the time, and somewhat suddenly finished the drawing with the spiral.

For me, these drawings are about how things are never just one thing. Treetops are leaves, but also light and dark, and so much more… Looking up at the flickering brings me a kind of static, meditative peace, but it also troubles me. I can’t help but think about how much there is up there that I can’t see, can’t appreciate. I think about my old broken heart and how it somehow took me to “Being a Woman.” How does hurt make beauty?

Installation shot of the SALON show at David Klein Gallery. Image from David Klein Gallery. You can see “Being a Woman” in the upper left corner.

Installation shot of the SALON show at David Klein Gallery. Image from David Klein Gallery. You can see “Being a Woman” in the upper left corner.

If you are in Detroit, please do check out the show! It will be up through November 3rd.

SALON
September 14 - November 3
David Klein Gallery
1520 Washington Boulevard, Detroit, Michigan

https://www.dkgallery.com/?gallery_exhibition=salon