Artist’s Statement & Portfolio

About, Art, Writing

I create work that bridges the haptic and the virtual in order to change the world, one person at a time.

In order to clarify this statement, I’d like to give you some context: I became a printmaker in college and it electrified me with the inks, the substrates, and the collaboration with the materials. Then there was the phenomenon of print as a social force: the legitimacy of the printed word and the power of the poster. I dove into all the processes I could, experimented with voice and began to find my way. The work I produced was diaristic and figurative but I could feel a centrifugal pull outwards, beyond my own needs.

I pursued an MFA in Printmaking, only to find the department at my school in painful flux: the department head chose to shed a lot of equipment in order to make room for a proposed radio station and additional computers. It was a hard lesson: we as printmakers are the keepers of seemingly outdated technologies and sometimes struggle to prove our relevance. After a year and a half of struggling with my department head’s decisions, I moved over to the 2D Design department to complete my degree. There I found people reverent to the processes of the past while being fully engaged in the future. There was no disdain for the older technologies but a vivid love of the entire continuum; I learned we are only able to truly innovate when we are well-versed in where we have been.

It proved to be a wildly fortuitous move: Printmaking gave me the tools to become an impassioned artist and Design gave me the methodology to become an engaged creative citizen. I dove into the theory and discourse of graphic design: I learned content production, typography, and branded composition as a print designer. I went on to examine persuasion, propaganda, and perception in an effort to master tenets of design thinking. I taught myself to build and publish web sites in a user-centered production cycle. Most importantly, I learned that creating client work is not selling out but being of service, lending a new dimension of compassion to all my creative output. I necessarily became a hybrid, part artist, part designer. My work went from representational explorations of body politics to packaged aspirational devices: paper products to save the world, as I called them.

Graphic Design has become a major inspiration and energy source for my artwork: it is embedded into the warp and weft of our culture, encompassing psychology, technology, commercialism, and empathy. It has given me the latitude to push my work into media I’d not considered before: video, sound, and performance. My work currently comes with two distinct components: an evocative printed take-away and an interaction system in the form of a website, application, or installation. These act in concert to address issues of metacognition, encouraging the user to navigate common woes with humor. This is how I hope to gently change the world from the inside out.

I am currently developing an installation/performance piece called User Testing wherein the viewer becomes my collaborator, giving her answers to a series of queries that will help shape the next generation of products from my Monstress Productions line. The data she gives will be rendered via algorithm into an original composition which will be printed on the spot and given to her as compensation for her participation. As such, I am moving towards using data as a material, extending the idea of the multiple into yet another dimension while uniting my love of printmaking and interaction design into a force for good.

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Libby Clarke is an artist, designer, and educator living in Maplewood, NJ. She received her BFA in Printmaking from James Madison University and her MFA in 2D Design from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Professionally, Libby has worked as an interaction art director for over 15 years for such companies as Agency.com and Scholastic.com. She was an Assistant Professor at the New York College of Technology in Brooklyn, New York. She also served as the Director of the Studio School of the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey. As an artist, Libby has produced a series of multi-media conceptual products under the name Monstress Productions since 1996. She gives workshops and lectures across the United States on the intersection of art, activism, and technology, and her pieces are exhibited and collected internationally.