Featured Artist : Clara Mitchell
Artist Bio / Statement
My name is Clara Applewhaite-Mitchell, Printmaker/Textile Designer/Silk Painter. I have over 12 years experience in the Textile industry of New York and New Jersey, over 8 years as an independent artist, and a lifetime in the creative arts.
From 1988 to 2003, I worked in the Textile industry. I began in womenswear, at Fisher and Gentile, Company Limited, as a ‘board artist’, doing colour work and layouts. I learnt the intricacies, the cycle of design movements, the use of colour, and the intrinsic pace that is inherent in the womenswear industry. In 1991, I moved on to home furnishings, designing fabric and wallpaper, bedding and bath, rugs and other connected products, with Gear Holdings, Incorporated. In 1995, at the level of Stylist/Studio Manager, I decided to go freelance, continuing to design and do colour work on many of the same products, and with many of the same clients, Raymond Waites Designs, Maya Carpet Company, Incorporated, and Thibaut Wallcoverings.
In 2003, I decided to test my creative juices once more, and commit myself to the ‘artistic journey’. I founded Clara Applewhaite Designs, and had my first presentation in September that same year. I have since joined representative groups of artists in the New Jersey area, and show my original artwork, at the various juried art and craft shows in the area. I specialize and continue to experiment with the ‘gutta serti’ method, or silk painting. My work may be described as ‘wearable art’. My pieces are original, one-of- a-kind, custom art, which may be worn or hung in the home. I execute many of my designs on natural fibers, but mainly work on 100% Silk Habotai 10mm weight, silk being the preferred medium for the technique. Silk is durable, luxurious, and transcends every season. It lends a light and natural luminous quality to my pieces. (I use Dye-Na- Flow silk paints from the Dharma Trading Company, because they are vivid, non-toxic, and easy to set.) My designs are bold and vivid, depicting elements of flora and fauna, inter-twined with striking motifs of my multi-cultural Trinidadian heritage; that is, African, Amerindian, East Indian, Chinese, and European. Recently, I have used my work to voice my displeasure in the visible degradation of the eco-environment, brought about by the disdainful neglect of society, particularly in my island home. These images can be seen in my one-woman exhibition, “Paradise Losing” of 2009, followed by “Earth Skins” exhibition of 2011. This latter exhibition concentrated on the origins of man, and the many ways ‘we’ must begin to re-connect with ‘Mother Earth’, in order to sustain a balance in nature. Far too many species of plants and animals are becoming extinct, as a result of so-called ‘progress’. We must begin to set aside the arrogance and selfishness of man, in order to enable a natural co-existence, and to realize that without one, the other ceases to exist. Therefore, ‘Earth Skins’ continues to grow. My next body of work, ‘Fractured Masks’, is a direct ‘off-shoot’ of ‘Earth Skins’ and it realizes the truth that all of the original world cultures, are themselves endangered. The work seeks to identify and to bring to light, the threatened cultures around the world, through their primal masks and or face-paintings.
On a lighter note, I constantly experiment with colour and incorporating printmaking with my “gutta serti” process. I am presently working on the similarities of Viking armour and hummingbird feathers. Illustrating how man attempts to imitate nature, for all the right reasons, but then steals from nature to the point of extinction.
Clara Applewhaite Designs,