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Art Now: Dawn Clements

September 5 - December 10, 2006


On September 5, 2006 the Middlebury College Museum of Art, located in the college's Center for the Arts, Route 30, will open "Art Now: Dawn Clements," the newest installment of its ongoing contemporary art series. "Travels with Myra Hudson," a room-scale brush-and-ink drawing by New York artist Dawn Clements, will fill the entire Overbrook Gallery of the museum in this installation. Named for the character Joan Crawford brought to life in the 1952 thriller "Sudden Fear," the single drawing depicts in extraordinary detail a number of key scenes in that classic film noir, one for which Crawford's performance garnered the actress her third Oscar nomination. The exhibit will be on view through December 10, 2006.

Clements, who specializes in detailed and expressive renderings of her immediate environment, also draws domestic interiors that appear in the melodramatic films and soap operas that capture her imagination. "Travels with Myra Hudson" is a bravura production that envelops and surrounds the viewer. Depicting key locations in "Sudden Fear," the drawing derives from aesthetics of the film noir genre, in which a sense of place, animated by harsh light and deep shadow, can assume the psychological weight and presence of a lead character. By restricting her palette to stark, monochromatic ink on paper, Clements renders both the settings and the tonal mise-en-scène of the film.

A consummate draughtsman, Clements uses pen and ink the way a gifted narrator conveys settings in word or film. Her commanding expertise is evident, and the power of her work is hypnotic and unforgettable. She begins with intensely observed details of a particular locale. From this center she works outward, appending sheet after sheet of drawing paper, until her powers of observation cover the entire walls of a gallery space. Originally completed in 2002, the present installation includes an additional segment that Clements finished for "Art Now" only this summer.

As artist-in-residence at Middlebury in 2000, Clements drew a remarkable, minutely observed pen and ink rendition-some 78 feet in length-of the entire perimeter of her College Street apartment. Only a few colleagues had the opportunity to view this challenging project at that time, but Clements has gone on to make ever more ambitious and accomplished pen-and-ink drawings of her varied living accommodations in such locales as New York, Burgundy, Brittany, and Cape Cod. These drawings have been shown at the Pierogi Gallery in Brooklyn, which represents the artist's work, at Manhattan's Feigen Contemporary, and in museums at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), SUNY/Albany, and Skidmore College. Clements has also exhibited at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut, the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C., and at sites abroad. Currently she is a faculty member in the Program in Visual Arts at Princeton University, and she was a guest printmaker there last spring.

There will be a screening of "Sudden Fear" in the college's Dana Auditorium, College Street, at 7:00 p.m. on Thurs., October 19. Clements will speak about her career and her compelling draughtsmanship in room 304 of the Johnson Memorial Building at 4:30 p.m. on Thurs., October 26.


(above: Dawn Clements, Travels with Myra Hudson (detail), 2004, Sumi ink on paper, overall size: 10 x 46 feet. Courtesy of the artist and Pierogi Gallery.)


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From other web sites:

The North Dakota Museum of Art presented in 2004 an installation by video artist Mary Lucier titled Mary Lucier: The Plains of Sweet Regret, which contains a video clip from the installation comprising an 18 minute loop of synchronized DVD video on four plasma monitors.

The California/International Arts Foundation, founded in 1981, organizes and tours contemporary art exhibitions. The Foundation initiated artsconversations.org as a permanent archive for programming seen on www.netropolitan.org. Dozens of artist interviews are contained in the visual arts section of the archives. Lyn Kienholz interviewed Michael C. McMillen, creator of large-scale installation pieces and small-scale sculptures, in two two-part videos. A studio interview was filmed August, 2001 and another two-part video interview conducted at an unspecified date.

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