“When I need solitude, I envision myself in a purple forest that is filled with fairies and monsters, this is a small chapter from a bigger world within me.”
The world of Claire Christerson is infinite, deeply spiritual, and filled with double meaning. An intense sketcher and writer, Christerson explains, “I am interested in the personal saga, the myth, creating a story without words, letting my drawings and sculptures fill in the verbal gaps…” Personal experiences manifest themselves into motifs, characters, and colors that repeat throughout her practice, from film and sculpture to painting and watercolor. Alive, these motifs develop their own iconography through repetition. Ultimately, Christerson creates a universe that is unique, with its own language, images, and symbols.
Daisy Chains Heart Ecology’s narrative contains close to a decade of this practice in action. The exhibition focuses on a single character’s saga, Grizelda, as she enters an alternate universe filled with creatures and monsters found in Christerson’s previous work. The work tactfully announces that everything visceral is in the end temporary; Christerson’s precise use of color and the punctuation of her symmetry fills this idea of transmutation with meaning and life.
“I wanted to create large-scale watercolors that I approached like ‘heart maps’; once these maps were done, I rendered specific imagery through sculpture, and wanted this world to exist in different formats.” Processing feeling through her “heart maps,” which Christerson defines as a personal blueprint to one’s emotions, invites viewers to do the same for themselves. The exhibition consists of watercolor, sculpture and a soundscape created by frequent collaborator Kinlaw. Daisy Chains Heart Ecology is Christerson’s most comprehensive and personal exhibition to date.
MR: When did you get started? When did you character being to form? How long have you been drawing this character?
“Ever since I was a little kid, since I could write, keeping journals has been very important to me; and from a really- really young age, I knew that I was gonna want to be able to keep my thoughts very organized and be able to look back at that stuff eventually – so the practice of keeping a journal and having a sketchbook just kinda kept going until…. I still do it every day; it’s still a part of everything to me- so it’s like where any idea really happens.”
“Around I think it was probably my senior year of high school – It was a space for feelings- if I was feeling one way, I could go there, kind of go back to it later and pick and choose from it like “this really works” or “that doesn’t ever have to be public ever”- that writing or that feeling, but for me it’s like having these records and keeping these journals has really helped to respect my own thought process, rather than brushing it off. Anyway, all these sketchbooks that I’ve been keeping since I was a child, have been really helpful to getting to the process to even where these pieces are right now in the show.”
“I’ve always loved illustrating and drawing I just didn’t go to school for it- I ended up going to school for photo which is great, a lot of good things have happened from that but the whole time I was in school for photo I was still obsessively keeping these notebooks and drawing and not really showing people. It’s like the purest, most personal thing you could do and I started making these paintings of forests in one of my note books and it feels like I’ve been obsessed with that idea ever since- those colors. Vibrant purples, vibrant greens, neon yellow, pink rose- these colors that keep coming back in the work. Its funny because in my last week of high school I remember we were finishing up this school play that all the students had to be a part of and it was this really weird time when I was feeling really over everything- so I would sit in the back of the classroom and I would start drawing these different kinds of faces and that’s this moment when it clicked- I was like, I can apply this obsessive hand that I have to this style of drawing and I really like it- it’s fun and I kept doing it which has lead to now, pulling little idea drawers out of my head from these journals and piecing them together in this way that is a cohesive painting now. But it really comes from years of writing and working thins out on paper.”
“I think its also really special to be able to look at all your drawings that you’ve ever done and be like “wow- that’s so amazing I can pin point what I was feeling when I made this one and this one, like letting it be art therapy and your work is your life. Your work is reflective of what’s happening in your own life and what’s happening in the world or what’s not happening in the world. But definitely letting it come from yourself too.”
Claire Christerson lives and works in New York City. She received a BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts in 2015. Her work has been shown internationally since 2012.