Chelsea Clarke - Printmaker and Fiber Artist
Arctic Expedition

I am going as a resident artist on a scientific research cruise in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska! I'll be at sea for six weeks with oceanographer Bob Pickart of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and his team on the Coast Guard icebreaker Healy.

The research involves plankton colonies under the sea ice, their importantance in the arctic food chain, and how they are being affected by climate change. My role on the cruise is to use art to humanize the science and make it more accessible and appealing. While onboard the Healy I will be making daily drawings for the official outreach website and also working on imagery for a larger body of prints/drawings/fiber art about plankton and their role in the arctic ecosystem that will be finished back on land after the cruise. After the project is over there will be an exhibit of work from the whole outreach team (which includes a photographer/videographer, a writer, and a dancer!) to try to generate some appeal for plankton, marine biology, and arctic conservation. This is pretty much my dream job!

The cruise leaves May 12th and I'll be back in late June. I don't have the link for the official outreach site yet, but I'll post it as soon as I do and in the meantime you can follow along on my blog at http://www.arcticartandscience.blogspot.

This is a short statement I wrote about my lichen studies for the show at Cataumet Art Center this past fall. Once I get all the new lichen studies from 2013 photographed and up in the portfolio it will probably make more sense to put it there, but in the meantime here it is:

Lichens are not a single organism but are actually a symbiotic relationship between an algae (a plant) and a fungus growing together. They are able to grow in some of the harshest environments on Earth and survive conditions that most vegetation cannot, including extreme temperatures, high winds, salt spray, and lack of water. Lichens are one of the first colonizers of barren landscapes after fires or glaciers and they pave the way for other life forms by building and stabilizing soil on bare rock or sand. They are also a good indicator of air quality because although they can survive incredibly harsh environmental conditions they are very sensitive to air pollution.

I am drawn to lichens for their incredible diversity of forms and colors as well as their hardiness. Studying the forms and ecology of real lichens, I use deconstructed wool suits and colored threads to mimic their growth patterns and create new varieties adapted to a more domestic habitat. Each lichen form I create is inspired by one found in a specific location and represents a connection to that place, from the colonial stonewalls on Cape Cod to the rocky coast of Maine, the pink granite on Mt Katahdin, or even the brick walls of the old buildings on Water Street in Woods Hole, MA. In creating these lichen studies for the wall, I invite others to bring this unique part of the ecosystem indoors to become as beautiful and fascinating as they are to me.
Happy New Year!

So far this year is starting out very well art-wise. I spent a lot of December studying for the GRE and not making art, but now that that is over I have been spending a lot of time in the studio on both new woodcut prints and fiber projects. I also applied for and received a small grant from the Falmouth Cultural Council to have professional photos taken of some of my work. I chose six large prints I made for my BFA thesis because even though they aren't as recent as some of my other work they show off the more complex, technical, and large scale printmaking I was able to do when I had access to an etching press and all the other amazing facilities at Maine College of Art. They are also more difficult to photograph myself than most of my current work due to their size, so I was very grateful to be able to have them professionally photographed. The photos are in the new BFA Work folder in my portfolio and I'm hoping to add more of my own photos of both new and old work soon.

Thank you so much to the Falmouth Cultural Council for the grant and also to Mike Petrizzo of Fine Art Productions in Falmouth for the photos themselves. I am very grateful for the help! And now, as they say on NPR:

"This program is supported in part by a grant from the Falmouth Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency."

I feel like Ira Glass!
Work at Cataumet Art Center

Now that the busy work season is winding down I am finally finding more time to focus on my artwork. Both time in the studio to get to work on some of the ideas I have been storing up all summer and also time to update this site, work on getting my work out into the world, and connect with other artists. I just dropped off some work, mostly small prints, at the Cataumet Art Center for their front gallery/store and it will be on view and for sale there starting this coming weekend. I'm so happy to have work in such a sweet little gallery so close to home! If you're local please go take a look, it's right next to the Cataumet post office and there is a lot of other amazing work there as well. I am especially in love with Richard Jason's beautiful carved wooden whales and birds.

I will also have some bigger pieces, including lichen studies and fieldstone pillows in the fall group show in the big gallery at Cataumet Art Center opening in early November. I'll post more info on that when I have it.

And finally, I have been spending some time lately searching out and looking at the work of other artists that I admire or who are doing work I feel a connection with. I put links to several of them in the Links section of my site and I will be adding more soon. I'm hoping to reach out to some of these other artists over the winter and try to connect with more like minded makers inspired by nature and science. If you like my work you should definitely check out these other artists, there is some really amazing work out there once you start looking!
Staying Put

Although my adventures and travels of the past few years have been amazing, and I already miss many of the places I have lived and traveled, I have finally decided to say here in one place for the next year. In a way staying put will be as much of a novel experience as visiting new places. I have not spent one whole continuous year in the same place in ten years, and it will be nice to root down and experience all four seasons in one place. This will be the first time I will not have to pack and move seasonally, and I will be able to have my studio and all my tools and continue to work and make in one place over time.

I had a really good and productive winter with the stone pillows and lichen pieces, and I finally have most of those photos up. Now I am slowing down the lichen and pillow making, although still doing some of that, and starting to work on a series of drawings that will become both woodcut prints and more fiber pieces. Be on the lookout for both new animal wall art pieces and hand stitched animal patches for clothing and gear inspired by all of the amazing wildlife I saw last summer in Alaska.

The Etsy site is still on what might end up being a permanent hiatus, but much of my new and some of my older work is still available for purchase. Just contact me if you are interested or have questions. I am also really enjoying making the animal patches on a custom basis with specific people in mind. If you have an idea for an animal you would like, or a custom variation on any of the lichen work, I would love to hear it.

Happy Spring!
Back to the East Coast and a show at Highfield Hall

I just got back last week from an amazing and inspiring summer working and adventuring in Alaska, and now I'm settling back into my studio on Cape Cod. The website should start to be more active now with more work both old and new up as soon as I finish some major photo editing, as well as some very new work as soon as I get going in the studio again! My Etsy shop will be back online soon as well.

In the meantime I have work in a show called Beebe Woods: The Trail Leads to Our Door at Highfield Hall in Falmouth, MA. The show is open now and will stay up through November 16th, please check it out if you are in Falmouth. I have four pieces in the show along with a lot of great work by other local artists.

One of my pieces in the show is a collaboration with my friend Ruth Bleakley, a book and paper artist. I did a long narrow drawing which she bound into a beautiful accordion book inspired by the stonewalls in Beebe Woods. I will have photos of the finished piece up soon, but besides binding the book Ruth also documented the process on her blog and her process photos and explanations are well worth looking at!

Thanks to everyone who came out to the opening last Friday and also to Annie Dean and everyone else involved for making it happen! Here is the official description of the show, as you can see it's the perfect fit for my work:

Beebe Woods: The Trail Leads to Our Door
Wednesday, September 26–Friday, November 16

Explore the botanical beauty, the geology, and the human history of Beebe Woods as interpreted in new work by established regional artists. Utilizing a wide range of media, from intricate needlework to large scale sculpture, these artists will uncover the mysteries of the woods and delight even the seasoned naturalist. Highfield Hall is encircled by this 383 acre woodland, which has inspired artists and townspeople for centuries.