Clarissa Plank

Artist's Statement

My work is a study of objects, memory, and the concept of home. I am curious about the stories that ordinary objects might be able to tell about our lives. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania gave me many opportunities to photograph lost and abandoned objects, and questions about the object’s past stuck with me throughout my academic career.  As a printmaker, I continue to discover ways to combine techniques such as etching, aquatint and photopolymer  to add depth to a single image, such as in Home Never Lost/ Radio (2012). Following the path of the object, my work evolved to examine how items from my childhood home could elicit certain feelings and memories.

Visiting home to catalog and photograph objects made me reflect on my relationship with that site as an adult. The place that I once identified as home, my parent’s house, no longer existed as I remembered it. I began to deal with these feelings of displacement, and examine the concept of home itself. I focused on this topic for Recollecting Home (2013). I constructed a four-by-five-foot model of my parents’ property out of handmade paper, populated with 3D printed objects, handcrafted paper trees, and an animated projection of site-specific memories.

In Recollecting Home, I work with the memory’s power of distortion. The scale of the house forces the viewer to look at it from a bird’s eye view or to lean in and examine it as one would a child’s toy. It represents where I am now, looking down from the vantage point of adulthood. The palette is monochromatic; it is a blank slate upon which the memories are replayed. The shifting text projected on the land mimics the fluid nature of memory and its connection with place. In this piece, I pay homage to the strength of my connection with my former home, and tap into the blurriness of childhood memory.

I continue to be involved with a study of home and the object. I am currently exploring how people present themselves to others through their homes. The outside of the house becomes a façade through which one can perpetuate an image or identity. I am curious about why people choose certain decorations and what these are intended to say about the inhabitants. These images represent a shift in the focus of my work toward the dichotomies of wealth and poverty and outside perception versus self-image. The beginning stages of this body of work can be seen in prints such as Perceptions I & II, and Bones of the House (2013).

I often use photographs as a basis for my prints, but I also value the physicality of hands-on processes such as monotype, woodcut, paper-cutting and construction. I combine labor-intensive printmaking processes of reduction woodcuts and etching, with more computer-driven techniques such as silkscreen, photopolymer and lithographic transfers. Both manual and technological processes are meaningful to me, and the combination echoes the intersection of past and present. As a printmaker, my work is informed by my experience with multiples. There is ritual in the creation of multiples; it speaks to the repetition of habit and routine, of committing something to memory. 

I take inspiration from the work of many printmakers and artists, such as Michael Landy, Do Ho Suh, Andy Goldsworthy, and Janet Ballweg. To read a my research on home, click here.