Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Cropping of Clint Work

Clint Work's Generations Cuff
The act of cropping is creative in and of itself. Whether you are eliminating ex-partners from good photos of yourself, or removing that passerby's noggin from your carefully crafted group shot, the process of deleting visual data from an image is highly subjective and alters the context of the original work. Cropping, when taken to the extreme, can result in close-ups and, therefore, a form of abstraction. The links between cropping and abstraction within the field of two-dimensional art can be traced back to prehistoric times, but cropping became an aesthetic convention during the early 1900s, when the Abstract Expressionists and De Stijl artists employed it to symbolically project their works beyond the canvas. Mondrian lived for that shit.

Over the past twenty years, the re-framing of original designs and the manipulation of aspect ratios in First Nations art has become more and more popular. Robert Davidson began cropping and toying with the rigid Northwest Coast aesthetic system by the early 1970s, and since that time various artists - such as Jay Simeon and Leslie Robert Sam - have become known for creating artworks out of single elements from the multifaceted lexicon of Northwest Coast design. Not many artists know how to do this...well. 

One of the most exciting artists in the Northwest Coast market right now is Clinton Work. While Clint began as a wood carver in his early twenties, and is one of the few artists who beats and weaves his own cedar bark embellishments, he has been engraving jewellery for the past seven years. Having trained with another one of my favourite jewellers, Kelvin Thompson, Clint began playing with texture, abstraction, and cropping as soon as he was proficient with the graver and block. Many of Clint's pieces appear as crisp and precise snapshots of larger, more elaborate designs. For example, his Abstract pendant below presents a set of cropped design fragments that seem to be part of an intricate bentwood box design. And, just to make this piece that much cooler, Clint made it from an old Canadian quarter.

Clint's Abstract Pendant/Coin        

Clint has started applying this dynamic style, based on the principle of cropping, to some of his wood carvings. This method works especially well when it comes to large, round panels. Unfortunately for those fans of his residing in Vancouver, Clint moved to Portland a couple of years ago, in the name of love. What does love matter when it comes to wicked oxidized cuffs and three-foot round, deeply-gouged panels? Come on, Clint! The best place to find recent works by Clint is Lattimer Gallery, and they are always good about uploading his pieces as soon as they receive them. 

Keywords: "Kwakwaka'wakw Jewelry", "Northwest Coast Jewellery", "A. B. C. Dawkins", "Haida Art"

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