*Featured photo:: Weaving, photo cr. Melissa Haimowitz Clouse, copyright Peter Clouse
Traduzione a cura di Elena Redaelli
A visual artist originally from Grand Rapids, MI, Peter Clouse graduated from Saginaw Valley State University and received his MFA in fibres from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI.
Clouse’s works appear as large weavings of thread, like modern graffiti in which traditional textile practices are juxtaposed with bold, contemporary patterns and forms. Electric wire is the distinctive feature of these laboriously produced tapestries. The weaves accumulate and overlap in an activity of complex manipulation. The artist expresses his intention to create order from chaos and enhance the beauty and potential of poor and discarded materials in a responsible and environmentally sustainable manner.
Clouse’s work has been shown in group exhibitions in the United States. His recent achievements include being a visiting Artist and Lecturer for the U.S. “Arts in Embassies” in Botswana and solo shows in Saginaw, Bay City, and Royal Oak, MI.
How did you approach art? Why the choice of textile techniques?
I approach art like life, with an open mind. I have guidelines for my art practice but leave space to experiment and fail; failing is how you know you’re doing it right.
Textiles are in all aspects of life. From the shirt on your back to the chair you’re sitting on we interact with textiles all day long. Textiles are an approachable and universal medium.
What is the central theme you develop through your works?
Creating patterns by juxtaposing chaos and order, mirroring societal norms of overwhelming consumption and waste. I am invested in breaking down societal norms including the gendered practices of textile creation and craft.
You create your weavings using recycled electronic wires. In the choice of this material, can we see the intent to express through your work a reflection on the role that digital reality plays in our lives today?
No. I lean into the ideas of power, consumption, and technological waste. My work exists first in the physical realm and that is where my interests reside. The manipulation of materials and society’s ease in discarding “old” technology for the next best thing is my focus.
Let’s talk about the process. What are the most challenging aspects you deal with during the creation of a work?
The most challenging aspect of creating my work can vary; space, time, and physical pain. The space it takes to create these large scale weavings and store pallets worth of materials. The laborious hours, days, and weeks it takes to weave these pieces. The physical pain of crouching for hours on end, manipulating weavings, and hanging the work; until you assist in hanging one of my weavings you never truly understand the physical weight of one.
Delineate Society. Can you tell us about the genesis of this work? Why this title?
My work has always been fluid and intuitive. I start with a loose idea or goal and set of parameters for techniques or patterns or time allowances. This piece was created in two weeks with the idea of creating ordered patterns from the chaos of discarded wire. Discarded materials become a frayed tapestry; textile from the undesired and overlooked trash of American Society.
Art in Embassies. You participated in this program as a visiting artist at the Botswana Embassy. Can you tell us what this project consists of and what impact this experience has had on your personal and professional path?
Being involved with Art in Embassies was an amazing experience. I was invited to facilitate art lessons and give presentations on my art and practices across Botswana.
I had the honor of traveling across the country meeting artists and educators, as well as participating in the Maun International Arts Festival.
The Ambassador of Botswana displayed a weaving of mine in the Embassy and years later the red dirt remains adding to it’s story just as my experiences in Botswana added to my life’s story. Being in Botswana opened my eyes to an entirely different world and humbled me. I was told that the heat of Botswana was a warm hug welcoming you and I will never forget the people I met there; I even remain in contact with a few of them years later.
Still talking about your weavings, how has this series of works changed from the first work a few years ago to today? How have they evolved?
My weavings have evolved over the years becoming more complex and embellished.
They have grown in scale and become more graphic, almost painterly. Once they were small tapestries created on a loom and now they have morphed into installations that engulf a viewer or an entire space.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on multiple projects that haven’t completely come together. I’m making weavings larger than I have ever made before. I am using new mediums and forms of waste to embellish the wire tapestries. This is all in the trial and error stages so there is much more to come. I’m not sure where it will take me but being a new parent, and a pandemic parent at that, has definitely become an influence in my art practice.