Artist Spotlight: Will Clift
How would you describe your art? My sculptures are about exploring gesture through the interaction of form and balance. They consist of intersecting parts that stand or suspend together in equilibrium. No part is extraneous. I try to reveal the fine line between weight and weightlessness, motion and stillness. I’m trying to capture the moment between breathing in and breathing out, between being grounded and taking flight – the pure potential of movement that has not quite commenced.
Who or what influences you/your work? Where do you draw your inspiration? The forms in my sculptures come from the world around me — the contour of a hill, the movement of a stalk of grass in the wind, the mark left by a tire in the mud, the curve of someone’s neck as it meets the shoulder. Sometimes something I experienced during the day comes back to me at night, as I’m about to drift off to sleep. I’ve learned to always be looking, to be open in general, to what’s around me. Being trained to look and notice is one of the greatest aspects of doing this professionally.
Describe the process of creating your art? How do you begin? How long does it typically take to complete a piece? How do you know when something is done? I begin each sculpture with a form or a movement that I notice, in an instant, in the world around me. This moment of recognition is the most essential part of my process; it relies on intuition, when emotion and intellect are in balance. Then begins a long series of iterations on paper. This period is where I spend most of my time on a sculpture… it takes days, sometimes all at once, sometimes over the course of years. Once the drawing looks right, I know the finished work will balance — that’s inseparable for me from how it looks. Then, the actual fabrication of the sculpture is like the visible part of an iceberg — it takes time, but usually nothing compared to what I spent honing the form.
Which of your pieces are you exceptionally happy with/proud of? Why? My earliest works, from when I was in high school, and even grade school… I made these structures before I ever would have used the word “sculpture.” But they’re direct precursors of what I’m doing now, and I remember the joy I had creating them. I try to keep that joy in mind… if I ever get too far removed from that now, as I do this for a living, I know I’m on the wrong track.
What are your goals for this year? The next 5 years? I was extremely lucky to meet about five years’ worth of goals last year, and I haven’t really caught up, or focused yet on what’s next, except that I want to carve out some time, maybe on a nice beach or on a desert somewhere, to sit with a sketchbook and just sketch. Technically, I also want to stay at the leading edge of new materials. My sculptures are more and more demanding, structurally, as they get larger and more delicate. In the last five years I’ve incorporated steel and carbon fiber composite into my stable of materials, and in the next five, I’m sure there’ll be others.
What is your favorite part of being an artist? Least favorite? I love knowing that I have to be open to the world around me in order to be good at what I do. I also love that my job is physical — my hands are calloused, cut up and often full of splinters, but my body feels good and well-used at the end of a day. That said, I’m not in my 20s anymore. My body can’t take the amount of punishing work that it used to. I need massage and soaks in hot water. So the physicality of what I do cuts both ways.
Fill in the blank: I wouldn’t be caught dead putting more than one piece of my own work upon my walls. I like to look at a recent piece of mine, and sometimes an older form that I’m considering revisiting. But otherwise, I need space from my work.
Which contemporary artists to you admire? I’m particularly taken with contemporary dance choreographers right now. Justin Peck in NYC, Garrett Ammon of Wonderbound in Denver. I see dance as a sculpture in four dimensions.
What are some of your other interests/hobbies? Other interests? I live and dream sculpture! Ok, that’s only partly true. I love working with my hands in general, be it digging in the garden or cooking dinner. I love to travel. To be outdoors.