TED CLAUSEN

SCULPTURE

SCULPTURE

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ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

I do not remember a time in my life when I was not interested in letters, words, stories and making. As a grade school student I was fascinated with letterforms. Handwriting was the most important mark for me in those early school years. I would take your ‘m’, his ‘a’ and her t’ and work them until I liked them. By the third grade this love of letters found poetry, an ongoing presence in my life. I started making little books of my poems, stitching cardboard and tree bark and grass into little portable volumes. 

As a teenager I became deeply curious about the lives of others: how they worked, where they found meaning. I found myself paying close attention to what people said and the way they said it. I discovered that I was not shy about asking questions and that the answers only seemed to spark more curiosity on my part. Later, when I became an artist, interviewing and the use of vernacular text became an integral part of my work.

As a young man studying calligraphy, letterform and type design, I found myself wanting to work three dimensionally with these skills and with my interest in words and story. I began creating intimate three-dimensional objects that held the vernacular words of the stories I wanted to, or was commissioned to tell. I was and still am fascinated by materials and their relationship with words: how the material world can be channeled to underscore and deepen the meanings in the texts. This has led me to use a wide variety of materials and processes in my works: glass, wood, steel, water, boxes, detritus, plastic wine cups, squishy bags filled with glycerin, and the list goes on.

One day a friend and public art administrator asked me, “Ted, have you ever considered working MUCH larger?” I had no idea what she was referring to. “Look, take this Request for Proposals, read it, and apply”. This small, generous and insightful act became a turning point in my career- it led to my first permanent public art commission, the Vendome Firefighters Memorial in Boston.

With my early public projects I had to confront some basic questions that are yet vital to my work: What does ‘forever’ mean when you are using words? What ‘shape’ are these words? What material are these words? How do these words and materials want to be experienced? How do I integrate sculptural form with text so that one could not imagine one without the other? How should this form be experienced? Asking these questions, I have developed a body of public art work about integrating site and project specific forms and materials with thoughtful, provocative, vernacular texts. I am still asking them.

 

ARTIST STATEMENT                                                                             RESUME