I am going to be teaching at ADAA for the first time this year. I have never taught at or even been to a conference that specialized strictly in dolls. I am not quite sure what to expect but I am excited about the opportunity. Besides its being held in a Austin where the motto is “Keep Austin Weird”… I want to start a campaign called “ Make Ferndale Weird” but not in the creepy weird way it may lean some days.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Hi Clarissa, tell me about the dolls you create.
Clarissa: I create assemblage dolls from recycled and found objects. I enjoy giving discarded objects a new life. I am drawn to the rust, patina, and evidence of life on found objects.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Where did you start your artistic journey? Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
Clarissa: I knew I wanted to be an artist in 3rd grade, and then I got distracted with horses and math for most of my school career. I went to college on a drama scholarship and, in a moment of being frustrated with the lack of creative input I had in theater, I wandered into the art department and never left. Making art, talking about art, learning about artists fed me in a way I hadn’t found before that. I have been both fortunate and tenacious enough to make a living as an artist since I was 22.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: So you are a full time artist! How long have you been able to focus on your art?
Clarissa: Yes full time for 20 years.. Eek that makes me feel old!
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: I’m coming up on my 20th anniversary with my day job too, but I’m not a full time artist! Where do you find artistic inspiration? Do you keep an art journal?
Clarissa: I am currently addicted to Pinterest and justify my hours on the computer as “artistic research”. I am inspired by other artists of all medium both famous and unknown. My studio walls are a giant collage of art images, postcards, quotes, old work of mine, rusty objects, and general chaos. Those visuals become some kind of non linear source of inspiration. I also keep little scratched out ideas on random piece of papers that no one can decipher including myself.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: I have recently discovered video’s on Pinterest and have been sucked in! Describe your process for starting a new piece. Do you know exactly how your pieces will turn out before you start sculpting/painting or do you allow your creation to develop as you work?
Clarissa: All my work is greatly inspired by the objects I have on hand. I start with a porcelain doll that has been discarded to the Goodwill or a yard sale because its owner has out grown it. Those dolls have a certain prissy kind of quality to them and my first order of business is to do some creative deconstruction. I am not a traditionally trained doll maker, and I am starting with a partially constructed figure so a lot of my process is about altering that original doll and combining with found objects to create a completely new art piece. I use a lot of alternative techniques to achieve the look I am going for including but not limited to taking a butane torch to my dolls. I might have a mood or a feeling about the direction a doll is going but for the most part I try to stay out of the way and let the process and the materials create the work.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Do you believe you have a muse? If so, how does your muse express his/herself?
Clarissa: I believe creativity is the essence of our life force. I don’t have a “muse” per say but I believe there are things I don’t cognitively understand that allow and nurture creativity to flow through me and into physical works of art.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: What a beautiful way of articulating creativity! Please describe a day in your studio.
Clarissa: That greatly depends on what kind of deadline I am working on. I try to do some kind of social media update or promo to start the day and then the sky is the limit. I might be torching a whole group of dolls and splashing paint and stain around or I may be spending quiet hours capturing that elusive look in the details of a painted face. I enjoy the alone time in my studio and listen to audio books while I work.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Describe an idea that you have that is yet to be born. What is keeping you from starting?
Clarissa: I want to create large life sized doll as part of a larger gallery instillation. Also dolls that are more abstract and even further away from traditional forms.