Puzzle-like patterns with playful colors zoom across various mediums from pigmented ceramics to expertly stitched quilts in the Durham studio of artist Martha Clippinger. Kind and polite as she is talented, her basement studio has a kaleidoscopic quality in which your eye quite simply can’t decide what to be mesmerized by next.
As many others have noted about Martha’s work, it is truly smile-inducing. On our last visit to the modernist home, the newest addition to her family of creations, Iona (an almost one year old bundle of love) delightfully occupied herself with wooden blocks in the pack-and-play while dog Walter silently supervised our chat from his striped perch below a studio table. This is a house truly spirited by cheer and anchored in wit. In a 2016 Hyperallergic article, critic John Yau observed: “Imagine the wayward progeny of the textile artist and printmaker Anni Albers and the Mexican geometric artist Gunther Gerzso, experimenting with the wild palette generated by a computer, and you get a glimpse into what Clippinger is up to.” Martha’s work schedule may have changed in the last year but her commissions have continued to draw well-deserved attention from far outside Bull City. Happily you can capture more than just a glimpse with lithographs at Durham Hotel
, a mural at Duke’s Brodhead Center
, various local exhibitions regularly, and a website
that never fails to intrigue. As she focuses on completing a large scale installation work in Charlotte, Martha is also in the process of planning her next jaunt to Oaxaca, Mexico to work on new tapetes, preferring to choose colors in person and weave on looms alongside the family she produced with when she completed her Fulbright-Garcia Robles Research Grant.
In an art world that rightly confronts the daily challenges of the political and environmental landscape in which we live, Martha Clippinger’s aesthetic brings a fresh and bold felicity that few artists are capable of cultivating. One of Durham’s brightest and a visual blessing to our state, we can’t wait to see what joys she produces next and we’re brimming with excitement for our next visit to her studio.