Let's Talk About Art: Lenka Clayton


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This is a biweekly series about art and artists in the region. Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts serves the community through arts education, exhibitions and artist resources.

Lenka Clayton is not afraid to tackle projects that would seem impossible to the rest of us -- such as sending a letter to everyone in the world.

Called the "Mysterious Letters" project, the artist is handwriting or typing (on a typewriter) a personalized letter to every household in the world, and then mailing them, town by town.

A native of England, Ms. Clayton has lived and worked in Pittsburgh for four years, while balancing a schedule as a busy artist and a mother of two babies. She was recently named Emerging Artist of the Year by Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside, where an exhibit of her work is on view though Nov. 3.

Much of Ms. Clayton's work is conceptual art. That is, it emerges from a concept and therefore, the art begins with an idea. She says her work exaggerates and reorganizes the familiar, turning it into "the poetic and the absurd."

For instance, for an exhibit in 2008 Ms. Clayton collected 7,000 stones from within a three-mile radius of Alfred, N.Y., hand-numbered them and arranged them in a pile for a gallery show there. Visitors to the exhibit were invited to take the stones home to redistribute them.

Her art asks us to question the ways in which we attempt to organize and understand our world. She once collected and re-formed 1 million paperclips from offices around the world.

It is clear that Ms. Clayton enjoys the playful interaction with people and objects in her conceptual art projects.

For her exhibit at PCA, Ms. Clayton asked 100 couples from 12 countries to each create a single shoe from materials found around the house, and to not show the other partner his or her shoe. Called "One Brown Shoe," each pair of mismatched shoes is in the show. They can be seen as a reflection of the individual creators but also the couple.

Ms. Clayton has exhibited locally, nationally and internationally, including in Switzerland, Germany and France. To find out more go to: www.lenkaclayton.co.uk.

For more information about PCA exhibitions: www.pittsburgharts.org.

artarchitecture


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