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Martha M Clippinger

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Getting out of bed in the morning was always a challenge for me. Part of what kept me in the bed was the quilt that covered me, and while it provided warmth and comfort, it also provided much visual stimulation. As a child, I would lie in bed and study the positioned patterns as well as fold the cloth in order to explore other potential pairings.

I find my childhood exploration of this quilt to be much like my artistic practice today. A similar resourcefulness leads my work, and the tactility, geometry, and color that had been reasons for staying in bed have now become motives to make art. I use found materials in the creation of my works, and like my great-grandmother who made the quilt, I address the visual potential of the objects.

My exposure to outsider art while growing up in the South also contributed to my resourcefulness. When not sewing, my work ranges from paintings on irregular scraps of wood to the transformation of domestic objects thrown out on the curb into paintings. I see painting as an infinite possibility of color in space. Sometimes I focus on the life of the color as contained within the space of a scrap of wood, while other times I apply color to an object that exists in the space of our everyday surroundings. At times, the interior approach to a painting, and the public, site-specific installation of a colorful sculpture can create a very similar experience. This dialogue between my two approaches to painting leads me to create installations where the works can be seen as both individual paintings, and parts to a whole. In this situation, the space in which the work is displayed becomes the final tool for completing the work, just like the irregular outlines of the wood scraps provided the first gesture with which to begin.

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