Craig CliffordAppleton, Wisconsin

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Craig Clifford received his BFA from California State University Long Beach in 2000 and his MFA from Louisiana State University in 2003. He exhibits his work nationally and internationally and has been included in the 2007 and 2009 World Ceramic Biennial in South Korea as well as exhibitions at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia, PA and the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, California. He is currently an artist in residence at The Archie Bray Foundation in Helena Montana working for a solo exhibition at the gallery at Pewabic Pottery in Detroit Michigan. He has taught ceramics and art at California State University Long Beach, USC, Mississippi Valley State University and is currently the head of the ceramics program as a Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh.

As an artist I am interested in where high and low culture intersects and how images carry meaning within a society that consumes a huge amount of visual information. My creative practice is an exercise in the transformation of common objects and an investigation into how context, expectation and gaze affect our experience with the things we live with. I use casting to transform found objects and forms into rich tableaus that use color and texture to alter the perception of space and draw the viewer into a complex experience.
My pieces are made by the assemblage of hundreds of press molded, kitsch forms to create a texture in the forms that at first glance seems to be a mere surface, but draws the viewer in with slices of recognizable imagery. I could use anything to create texture, but choose to use the trite sentimentalized images that come from commercial molds. In fine art, ceramics is often considered low art and within ceramics commercial molds are the lowest form of clay as they require no skill or creativity and represent images and clichés as crass novelty items. In my work I transform these hollow, commercial reproductions of ‘art’ to create my work. The forms themselves are cast from found objects like refined teacups and serving pieces from cast off china sets. For myself these objects are images of refinement and wealth and act as a contrast to the surface imagery.
For the viewer the pieces show themselves in layers of information that take time to reveal themselves. For me color acts as another layer for the work, both hiding and accenting the texture and form. As an artist I work in assemblage and use material culture to create works that recontextualize the familiar until it is transformed and unrecognizable.