Poster’s Comments: Sissy Clavat was an active member of the Pittsburgh arts community in the mid-90s. I will be posting photographs and descriptions of various of her works on this site along with her inimitable “artists comments” (minor works of art in themselves) and some of her writings and perhaps some writings about her and her work. Below is a sample of the first category from 1995.
Local Politics – Sissy T. Clavat (1995)
Materials: Pine, Dust, Pigment (presumably currant and pollen), Intricate Synthetic Webbing, Incidentals.
I chose the rectangular shape of the piece to convey that while not strictly speaking “square,” local politics in Western Pennsylvania (emphasis on “Western”) don’t break much from the metaphoric four-sided parallelogramic nature of European-derived culture too awful much, do they? The colors, their meaning and their arrangement’s meaning are too obvious to mention. Red: the blood of the Native Injuns, Homestead strikers, and Jonny Gammage. Yellow: the urine of the anti-statist. Tan pallor (found chiefly in the frame): the unifying frame which both literally and figuratively ‘holds this artwork together,’ serves to hint to the audience (nudge, nudge) that the artist is aware that the artist/anti-statist is inextricably bound up in the game of oppressor by the incontrovertible color (tan) of their privileged (an accursed privilege, in the case of the artist) skin color. Note also the self-conscious conventionality of the very use of a ‘frame,’ a Western trope which tells the viewer, “Hi, person! You are Viewer. I am Art.”
There is hope though: (Art without hope, like an ape without a heart, is dead.) See how the blood and urine, the fluid of sustenance and the fluid of relief, commingle?
–Sissy T. Clavat (August 17, 1996)
Sis Clavat came to my attention at a pizza party in New Haven. A strapping young woman with (according to mutual friends) “an angry brush and a happy canvas,” she cut a striking figure standing contra-posto with a kitchen gadget in one hand and a neighbor’s wriggling child on the opposite hip. Right away I knew that if she drew like she dressed, or if she sculpted self-portrayals, I would simply have to have one of her works for my show. As it turned out she was into primary colors and primate politics, so it turned out okay anyway.
–Vivika B. Moorland (August 1998)