Clea Felien | Click on image for more details
Artist’s Statement My paintings examine issues of class, race, and gender by re-contextualizing actual events and childhood memories. I encourage the viewer to explore societal disorders tangential to the “American Dream” and the layers of human complicity in its mythological creation. In creating my sculpture and painting, I choose easily recognizable objects or signifiers; photos of children, news events, etc. Technically, I re-examine formal issues by altering traditional painting surfaces, making jarring color choices, unusual compositions, and skewing other formal aspects of art making.
The Dancing Girls painting is a memory from my childhood. As a young white girl growing up in a predominantly African American neighborhood, my childhood was unique. However, I didn’t realize this until much later. The paintings I have created from this time in my childhood have become a litmus test for the audience. A white girl with a group of black girls is anathema to the common American experience, and provokes thought. Viewers respond differently—most see the girls dancing together happily; some see the white girl as afraid, pointing out a subconscious racial divide. My hope is that by reanalyzing omnipresent traditional ideological and cultural systems, we can gain a deeper understanding of our world and its accepted dysfunction.