State of Affairs

Throughout my career, I have created drawings in sets or series as multiple variations on a theme, usually a theme that explores some aspect of the human condition. A series might consist of as few as three or four drawings or evolve into a large series, as with The Plague Drawings and Studies in Sanguine, or they might be brief explorations of a contemporary issue, as with the Street People and Environmental Advocacy series, represented here.

Street People. Recently I’ve been struck by the growing numbers of people I see living on the street. I don’t remember anything like this before. Something has changed. I don’t want to preach. I feel conflicted around the issue. As a subject, it’s not something I would have considered in the past. But now the homeless are ubiquitous and emblematic of a bigger question facing us all, individually and collectively. I created these drawings not to draw likenesses or to draw comparisons—but to draw attention to a social concern that, far too often, we simply don’t want to see.

Environmental Advocacy. The drawings from this series were begun in the mid-1990s as symbolic narratives or visual allegories in response to the ever-growing threat to the natural environment through such events as chemical and oil spills, nuclear waste, and ozone depletion. For me, a dead bird can be a symbol for all of nature, just as one individual can symbolize all of humanity.

Henri Matisse once said, “What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which could be . . . a soothing, calming influence on the mind…” Although in other works I have shared Matisse’s dream,” Clint adds, “in these drawings I wanted to stir the mind rather than relax or calm it. I believe there are important issues that art can address, some of which are troubling some may even be a matter of life and death.

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