BUCKHANNON – “A Common Thread” opened at the M.I.B. Gallery of the Colonial Arts Center in Buckhannon on July 29, and on the following Friday evening, Aug. 3, Clare Murray Adams traveled from Ohio to introduce her display to the folks in Buckhannon.
Bryson VanNostrand, ART26201 founding member, said the organization has used word of mouth to find good fits for artists featured in the gallery, and that’s how the group learned about Adams.
“In 2021, we asked [another featured artist] for the name of an artist whose work he would recommend showing, and he mentioned Priscilla Roggerkamp and when Priscilla’s display was completed and we were taking her artwork back, we saw a display that had a piece of Clare’s work that was very powerful,” VanNostrand said. “That was how we learned about Clare.”
Adams started her career with about 25 years of making and exhibiting art quilts, she told attendees at her Aug. 3 talk.
“I have a strong fiber background in me, and it still continues today, even though I do not use that much fiber anymore,” Adams shared. “I use a lot more collage, although I came to realize what I was doing in fabric in making quilts with applique is what I call collage when I do it with paper. Many of the paper pieces have fiber in them, so it is a mixed media approach.”
She said she titled her show ‘A Common Thread’ because there are some common elements.
“Even with the great diversity in the pieces exhibited here, there are some common things in it,” she said. “I work a lot from my own identity as a woman and the idea of a woman’s work. This is what women did in the past and what women continue to do and grow as we move forward. I do a lot of work with nature. Another common thread is there is a lot of sewing going on in this work. I sew on the paper pieces – some by machine and some by hand – there is a quilt in the back that is a reference to the quilting I have done in the past.”
During the pandemic, Adams said she worked on a large piece displayed in the gallery.
“Most of the background is eco-printed silk, some of which I did and some of which a friend gave me,” she said. “I added things to it.”
She explained in making the piece, she used tea bags, removing the tea from them before transferring the images onto the flat tea bags. She then refilled the tea bags before suspending them from the piece.
Adams said she uses a lot of different processes, including encaustic painting, printmaking and collage. She explained one of the pieces that is in a window frame is called ‘In Case I Forget.’
“I have a great aunt that was my Confirmation Sponsor and she ended up with dementia, if not Alzheimer’s Disease,” Adams said. “It is a concern of mine as I get older. This piece is my response to wondering what would happen if I forget. There are some faces in there and it is mostly about the women in my family who have done a lot of quilting. My mom did not quilt, but she sewed a lot of my clothes.”
Even though VanNostrand described her pieces as powerful, those gathered for the artist discussion all agreed they found Adams’ work ‘gentle.’ One attendee said he felt the pieces show a delicate touch, and everything seems to be gently chosen and positioned in the pieces. He asked Adams if that was a conscious effort on her part.
“I think my palette is soft and I think that is the way I think and I work,” Adams said. “The work I like starts with a concept.”
Another attendee agreed the work is very gentle and is ‘not in your face.’ He liked it because he found the pieces to be soothing and calming.
In her biography, Adams said she was born in Canton, Ohio and currently resides in rural Southington, Ohio, where she maintains an active studio practice. She earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Kent State University and an MFA from Vermont College. Adams is a Professor Emeritus of Art and former Chair of the Visual Art Department at Malone University in Canton, Ohio. She teaches workshops in collage and encaustic painting and has exhibited her work in venues such as the Quilt Nation in Athens, Ohio.
“A Common Thread,” the artwork of Clare Murray Adams, is a free exhibit open Fridays and Saturdays from 4 to 8 p.m. at the M.I.B. Galley of the Colonial Art Center until Aug. 20, 2022.