Kate Clements, MFA 2015

Thesis Exhibition: March 25 – March 28, 2015

Opening Reception: March 27, 6 – 8:30 PM
Hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 11 AM – 6 PM

Blue Frame by Kate Clements            

Blue Table detail by Kate Clements

I find inspiration for my work in the perspective of critical theorist Georg Simmel whose observations over a hundred years ago remain all too relevant in today’s Gilded Age. “Fashion elevates even the unimportant individual by making them the representative of a totality, the embodiment of a joint sprit. It is particularly characteristic of fashion - because by its very essence it can be a norm, which is never satisfied by everyone...”

My work explores the ambiguity of fashion—its capacity for imitation and distinction; its juxtaposition of the artificial and the natural; its ability to divide people by keeping some groups together while separating others. The life cycle of fashion is a process of creative destruction by which the “new” replaces the “old,” yet nothing is truly new.  It distinguishes upper class society from the working class, Style, as Simmel suggests, both unburdens and conceals the personal, whether in behavior or home furnishings, toning down the personal to “a generality and its law” (216). My choice of materials comments on society’s need to conform and maintain distance.

In my work, glass represents a counterfeit to jewels; wood vinyl covers cheap plywood to create the illusion of solid oak. Cut outs suggest the absence of an object that is no longer there, present only through its trace. These imitations and absences act as a veil of protection that is ultimately removed when viewers discover that what attracts them to the work are deficiencies in it.

My work focuses on the ‘things’ we choose to value, how and where we display them.  Conventions of display and representation in the museum, home, and department store are similar. They create a sense of worth through indicators such as velvet and boundaries that manipulate our desires. My work expresses humor through the oddity of each piece while acknowledging sadness in the futility of many material objects. Yet the hope remains that these objects will take the viewer away from the mundane by the transformation of stand-in materials, allowing an escape to a place where these objects have a sense of purpose despite their futility.

All images courtesy of the artist.