We are pleased to begin the New Year with an exhibition of recent work by Dawn Clements. Clements’ powerful use of Sumi ink and ballpoint pen on small to large-scale paper panels remains her primary medium and scale. She often cuts and pastes the paper together to edit and compose a completed drawing, adding paper as necessary to create the desired scale. Through her active process, which is almost performative, the paper becomes distressed with folds, wrinkles, and seams.
Through sight, sound and touch my work is always a response to environments, objects and people, but until fairly recently the responses have been largely limited to working within the confines of my living spaces in fairly solitary ways. (Clements, 2012)
In 2011 Clements spent seven winter weeks in Rome, and two summer months in an abbey in Maele, Belgium. In April she was invited by curator Melinda Ring to respond to the work of dancer Susan Rethorst for a retrospective of her work at Danspace. Over the course of that year she also worked on a large modular drawing as part of an ongoing collaboration with the sculptor Marc Leuthold. This drawing, ”Balcony and Table of Work,” and related works will be included this exhibition. “Balcony and Table of Work” is an amalgam of three years of work and began as two separate drawings that were eventually merged into one. Each day, working in Sumi ink, Clements made individual drawings on 10 x 8 inch pieces of paper. Each drawing describes a new section of the table still life. The final drawing is composed of 366 individual drawings, now merged into one. The original table will be presented together with this work.
My collaboration with sculptor Marc Leuthold has been in progress for the past three years. As friends and colleagues, Marc and I decided to collaborate on a project together. In order to work ‘together’ I made a series of drawings from which Marc made sculptures. He in turn made and gave me his sculpted responses, and I in turn made more drawings. And so on. Leuthold’s work is often non-representational but, in response to my drawings, he modeled clay sculptures in the forms of the images he viewed in my drawings. The result is a series of multi-generational works, a kind of visual dialogue. (Clements, 2012)
In Italy, Belgium, and in Ms. Rethorst’s apartment Clements responded, as she usually does, to her immediate environment. The difference is that these places weren’t hers. She was granted entry and permission to respond, but in these unfamiliar surroundings her drawing process was affected by a strangeness of place, an awareness of her identity as a “guest” and an understanding that her time in these places was limited.
I am always interested in representing time in my work, but in these projects time was a more actively pressing concern, bringing a new urgency to the process. Time, space, place, shifting points of view, travel, mapping…these are always present in my work but this year they have also been active in my life, making me more clearly understand that my studio is mobile.
But most of these thoughts come in reflections of the work after having made it. Clements rarely enters her work with big theoretical designs. Through labor, one process leads to the next and a small drawing may become many drawings, or one big drawing. “A walk across a table, over objects, and through space offers new perspectives. And, as importantly, the process of working with another person brings further perspectives through discussion, agreement, resistance and empathy.”
This will be Dawn Clements’ fifth one-person exhibition at Pierogi. She received an MFA from the State University of New York at Albany and a BA from Brown University. Her work was included in the Whitney Biennal 2010 and is included in the permanent collections of The Musuem of Modern Art (NYC), The Tang Museum, the Deutsche Bank Collection, among others. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.