photo © David Lee Black
By Gabrielle Peragine
Fluidity Between Art & Life
Waltham, MA. A profusion of exotic plants greets visitors to the third floor of the rustic Waltham Mills Artists Association where Clare Asch’s studio is located. Stepping inside Asch’s studio, one is surrounded by her fluid and geometric watercolor paintings. Clare has surrounded herself with art her entire life. For Clare, “art has been like air to me.”
Clare and her family left Hungary and came to America when she was 8 years old. Not knowing the English language, she turned to art as an outlet of self-expression, creating her own personal “fantasy world.” As a young girl she took art classes at the Brooklyn Art Museum and continued her art education at what is now LaGuardia High School. After attending Cooper Union for a short period, she left the city for western Massachusetts, where she received her BFA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
The minimalist and conceptual ideas she experimented with at Cooper Union have resurfaced in her current practice. Clare’s work in the exhibition Confluence reveals her fascination with circularity and organic patterns. In her compositions she overlaps and layers circles, a shape she regards as feminine. She also utilizes spirals, mirroring with both shapes the universal pattern of growth and evolution. To Clare, the combined geometric and organic subject matter represent totality and the “wholeness” of life.
The process-oriented work and staining techniques of artists Helen Frankenthaler and Pat Steir have greatly influenced Clare. Previously she would pour the paint and let it drip, relinquishing authority to the medium at hand. Now she prefers more control in her work.
She finds the tension between painterly technique and geometric composition both exhilarating and calming. Thinking of color intuitively, Asch notes that “color has to do with how I feel in the moment.” Working in a series, one painting leads to another, resulting in multiple works in process at the same time. The paintings are completed very intuitively and very slowly…brush stroke by brush stroke.
Having received her MFA from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University , Clare has a strong background in academia and is currently teaching a drawing class at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. When asked how she feels about teaching, Clare responds humbly: “Teaching is a great way to learn.”
Clare searches for balance in the contrasted order and chaos of her work. The process of discovering that connection is what she finds most rewarding. The oppositional relationship of fluidity and control can be seen as a refreshingly positive appreciation for flexibility; much like her belief in the fluid benefits of teaching. Clare’s paintings are an extension of herself and her earnest outlook on life.