A.I.R Reflections: Clare Stokolosa

A New York native, Clare Stokolosa is a practicing artist and art teacher. Best described by her characteristic smile and laugh, she frequently put others before herself. If anyone was experiencing a problem, she would rise to the occasion and handel it while at the same time working on her own art. Her work and biography can be found at http://www.clarestokolosa.com


What are you working on?

I am working on a multimedia project that deals with value. What do we use, need and collect? When does the value change for us? The mediums I am working with are watercolor, three dimensional objects and video. There is also a two-fold, interactive component. People can take or contribute to my collection of objects in boxes. I’ve created a cube template that I invite people to design with and write their thoughts on. The template can be downloaded from my website: clarestokolosa.com

How is your first residency?

Byrdcliffe is a wonderful experience for me. Thoughts of the book,  “A Room of One’s Own”, by Virginia Woolf come to mind. Byrdcliffe provides me with a space to concentrate on creating art without the interference of daily pressures. Living in New York and teaching art to hundreds of students is a great learning and sharing experience, but it provides me little time to focus on my own art. What the residency program creates is a place to hear and listen to my own thoughts. At Byrdcliffe, I am living among people who practice various art forms, including writing. This gives me a perspective on how people interact with different areas of creativity. Being with resident artists at Byrdcliffe provides a springboard for ideas and conversation. And I must say we are a fun group!

Access to nearby art collections at the Storm King Sculpture Garden, Opus 40 Sculpture Garden, or Olana is easy because of Byrdcliffe’s location. Have you visited any of these places during your stay and have they affected your work?

I spent many occasions at Storm King when I was younger and believe the sculptures surrounded by nature influenced my work. I have not visited it or theothers mentioned on this stay.

I did visit DIA Beacon, though. It actually inspired me to work on my current project. I started writing down words and thoughts on a piece of paper before I even left the museum. The space and large minimalist forms captivated me. The works of Michael Heizer and Fred Sandback particularly fascinated me. Their work creates illusions, which can cause your equilibrium to feel off balance. The way the pieces occupy the spaces change depending on where you are standing next to them. This goes back to my current work on value and how things change.

How do you regulate and balance your art practice with teaching?

Balancing my art with teaching is like being on a high-wire act or simply a seesaw. It takes concentration and thought. My students give me energy, but also take a lot of it from me. To be able to provide my students with a well-rounded art education requires me to constantly be looking and learning about art.  As an art teacher I feel it’s important that I remain a student of art. Teaching has motivated me to keep up with my technical skills in the media arts, such as film and animation, which I have incorporated into my work.  And of course, I have to consciously set aside time each month to do my own art. A series of books that have inspired me are, “The Artist Way” and “Finding Water”, by Julia Cameron and the audible tape First Things First by Steven R. Covey.

Do you do art because you are an artist or are you an artist because you do art?

“Do I do art because I am an artist or am I an artist because I do art?”, is the old question of, what came first, the chicken or the egg? I know that I feel good when I’m making art. I remember my mother letting me role the gnocchi with my fingers when she was making pasta. I also loved the cookie press that would make all the different patterned cookies. My mother would give me dough to keep me occupied, when she would be making pasta in the kitchen. I would make little sculptures. I had poor eyesight as a child and I’d see color before form. I would lay under the Christmas tree and stare up at the old fashioned, bright Christmas tree lights. So I guess you can tell me the answer to this question if you have any thoughts on it.

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