Artist Spotlight: Clint Baclawski

Abigail Ogilvy Gallery is thrilled to officially represent the artwork of Clint Baclawski, a Boston-based artist working with photography, technology, light, and space. Working out of 35 Wareham Street studio, Clint transforms his landscape photographs into 3D light installations. He separates his photographs into sections which he wraps around LED light tubes and sets vertically across plexiglass sheets. The result is an interactive and compelling illuminated landscape whose dialogue with the viewer renews and refreshes as the viewer moves along the composition. We recently sat down with Clint to ask him questions about his background, process, and recent work. Check out our interview below:

Photograph of Clint Baclawski by Tony Luong

Abigail Ogilvy Gallery: How has your upbringing influenced your work? What was the original spark that drew you to study photography?

Clint Baclawski: Growing up, I was a Montessori student so, even from a very young age, I’ve always been encouraged to explore my creative interests in the greatest way possible. My older sister, also an artist, attended MICA, originally for photography before switching to painting. She was a constant source of inspiration for me to pursue a creative path. However, it was really my father, a veteran and former state police officer, who inspired me to pick up my first camera at 12 years old. He was a photography hobbyist and invited me to join him for one of the photography darkroom classes he was attending. Since that day, I’ve essentially not put my camera down for the last 25 years.

AOG: Fast-forward several years later, and you’ve graduated with a degree in advertising photography. Why the shift towards fine art? What lessons from advertising have you held onto?

CB: The impetus to major in advertising photography was simply my desire to learn everything I possibly could about cameras and lighting. However, it was never my intention to go into the field of advertising or editorial work as I’ve always been drawn more towards fine art. Despite the early rise of digital photography, I was fortunate enough to be attending an institution, Rochester Institute of Technology, that had such a strong connection to The Eastman Kodak Company and film. The school instilled in me a great love of positive E-6 film, which is the basis of why I continue to shoot exclusively with a large-format camera. My early fascination with light, without my conscious knowledge, was developed during critiques. Instead of presenting images on the wall, we presented our film transparencies on a light table, in order to better develop exposure, technicality, and knowledge.

AOG: What is your creative process like? How do you start a piece? Do you have a vision of the end result?

CB:
When I’m conceptualizing my next work, sometimes I start a piece with the photograph, and, other times I will start a piece by considering how I’d like it presented, then hunt for an image which will best align with that vision.

Even with the rise of digital photography during my undergraduate years, I’ve always been drawn to film photography and these days my large format camera is often mistaken for a video camera when it’s on the tripod. The most unique aspect of my process is that I typically only shoot one frame. I either capture the image or I don’t.

I am interested in making each piece uniquely different from the previous one. I’ve enjoyed playing with multiple sizes of lightbulbs, spacing between the bulbs, and the pattern of those bulbs. Also, I’m very loyal to my camera. Everything I’ve shot in the past 15 years has been with the same Horseman camera with a standard 150 lens.

Clint Baclawski, Oasis, 2017. Glossy red Plexiglas and red mirrored Plexiglas on Dibond, archival pigment backlight prints, clear polycarbonate tubes, 2′ LED bulbs 44 x 80 x 3 in.

AOG: You’ve previously spoken about the serendipitous moment of a piece of film draping over a blub and inspiring this new exploration. How do light bulbs differ from your light boxes? What does this medium offer you?

CB: Yes, I entered graduate school in 2006 at MassArt, presenting rather traditional 2-D work. Then, for a few years, inspired by Canadian artist Jeff Wall, I presented my work in custom-built lightboxes. One night, in my studio a piece of discarded photograph fell onto a light table, setting off a figuratively lightbulb in my head, which lead me to begin wrapping my images around them.

On the most basic level, my current light bulb pieces are a deconstruction of the light boxes. As a medium, the lightbulb offers me endless of options of size and scale, which is a departure to the more confined nature of the lightboxes.

AOG: Much of your current photography explores landscapes and architecture, whether it be a houseboat, wind turbines, or a home. Why this theme? What kinds of subject matter are you drawn to?

CB:
In the last few years, I’m drawn to photographing places that are generally solitary in nature and were often inhabited but may no longer be. I then use the lightbulbs as a representative symbol of former advertising displays. More recently, after living here for almost 13 years, I’ve finally turned my camera to capture subject matter in New England. Previously, most of the imagery I exhibited was far outside of New England.

2017, ©Clint Baclawski

AOG: Last fall, you showed Zephyr, an immersive installation in a shipping container for Boston’s HUB week (and recently sold, woohoo congrats). How has this harmony between technology and art, electricity and film, defined your work?

CB:
I wouldn’t exactly say defined it but when HUBweek asked me to propose artwork for the shipping container I was intrigued by the concept and felt confident that I already had an image, Zephyr, that strongly represented their theme. Zephyr at HUBweek was really about viewer engagement. The scale allowed the piece to be viewed from different angles, producing a different viewer experience for each person. Some HUBweek viewers preferred the upclose nature of the work, which produces an abstract image, but most prefer to walk along the image until it comes together as one. And, quite honestly, the children who viewed the piece simply loved the lights. As a father, I took particular delight in young people interacting with the work.

AOG: What types of pieces are you working on currently? Do you have any goals or experiments you’re eager to try?

CB: Lately, I’ve been working on a few large-scale site-related proposals and one I am particularly excited about is entitled Fringe. The installation includes new materials and a slight departure from my other image concepts and I look forward to presenting it in the gallery as part of a solo exhibition opening on Friday, September 6, 2019.

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Clint Baclawski’s solo exhibition locations include San Luis Obispo, California; St. Louis, Missouri; Boston, Massachusetts; Edinburgh, Scotland; and group shows at the Chelsea Art Museum, Danforth Museum, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, San Diego Art Institute, and others. His work has been featured in: FRAME magazine, The Boston Globe, The Creator’s Project, Boston Home magazine, Designboom, Take Magazine, and The Collector’s Guide to New Art Photography Volume II. When not in his studio or behind a camera, Clint is a staff member, and teaches Installation Art to graduate students at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Press Release: Collected Stories

New artwork by Holly Harrison & Kristina McComb
December 19, 2018 – February 17, 2019
Opening Reception: January 4, 2019, 6-9 pm

“Flash,” Holly Harrison, Mixed media and found papers on wood panel. 30 x 30 in., 2018

Abigail Ogilvy Gallery is proud to present Collected Stories, a duo exhibition featuring new works by Holly Harrison and Kristina McComb. Both Harrison and McComb are drawn to the idea of creating a visual story that documents the passing of time. Holly Harrison is an artist, writer, and poet; appropriately, her artwork is comprised of multiple bands of imagery and collage, the layers work like stanzas of modern verse, with bits of meaning half-hidden underneath like symbolism and subtext. The work reads as a narrative when paired with Kristina McComb’s recent documentation of the Boston Athenaeum. Each photograph highlights the minute details of the books in the library, worn and weathered through age and use. Together, Harrison and McComb combine elements of past and present, embracing imperfections as means to tell a contemporary tale.

Holly Harrison’s Color Field series relates sections of color with elements of mixed media. This new series is a return to using stripes as structure In this new series, the bands of color are themselves the subject, contrasting with her previous work that was mostly image-based. A crucial element to Harrison’s work is the mixed media components, giving each artwork texture, depth and most importantly: an imbedded story. Often the layers include old shopping lists, vintage comics, book and magazine pages, printed papers, junk mail, her daughter’s early doodles, and pieces of her husband’s works on paper. These components are covered with a wash of paint, acting to join the disparate pieces and also to obscure their content.  What remains is an impression or hint, encouraging the viewer to look more closely. Harrison also questions the emptiness or fullness of each block of color, her draw to poetic forms leads Harrison to build her own organic shapes that push against an established boundary.

Kristina McComb’s photographs capture the hidden history of the books within the Boston Anthenaeum. As their artist in residence for the past year, her plan for this project was intentionally vague, allowing for the individuality of the books to catch her attention. As she worked, McComb deliberately did not interfere with how the books were positioned, only documenting exactly as she found them, the unedited truth of how they exist in the library. These striking photographs bring attention to the tears, folds, broken spines, and cobwebs that mottle their surface; celebrating their imperfections rather than shunning them. By freezing the books in their current state and giving them a new life through digital reproduction, she starts the cycle anew, letting the images age much like the books themselves have aged. McComb finds profoundness in the life lived by both the object and those who have interacted with it. Whether a single image or the series in its entirety, the work tells the story of a collection through intricate maps across the surface of the books.

“Boston Athenaeum 0008,” Kristina McComb, 2018, Photograph - framed, Ed. 1 of 10

Holly Harrison is a mixed-media artist living and working in Concord, MA. Harrison received her MA from City College of New York and her BA from Wesleyan University. Harrison’s work has been featured at galleries and museums throughout New England and New York such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Concord Art, and is held in private collections across the country and internationally. Harrison was selected for the 2018 and 2015 Artcetera Auction as well as the 2017 MassArt Auction. She was also the recipient of the 2014 Dick Blick Materials Award and the 2012 Attleboro Museum Certificate of Merit. 

Kristina McComb is an interdisciplinary artist from Western Massachusetts. She graduated with Distinction from Greenfield Community College, receiving her Associates of Science in Visual Art with a concentration in Photography. McComb also holds a BFA from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. Her work has been exhibited since 2014, most notably at the Brattleboro Museum and Arts Center in Brattleboro, VT, the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, and The Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston, MA. McComb has also exhibited in galleries across the country including Manifest Gallery, in Cincinnati, OH, and the Mark Arts in Wichita.

Collected Stories, Holly Harrison & Kristina McComb, Abigail Ogilvy Gallery

Local Nonprofit Spotlight: Artists For Humanity

Our gallery director, Abigail Ogilvy, and AFH teens in front of their artwork

Artists For Humanity (AFH) alumnus, Tony ‘PRONZY’ Perez, was an AFH teen artist in the painting and sculpture studios for several years before becoming an assistant mentor for an additional three years (and recently exhibited at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery!). Perez reflects on how AFH impacted his growth mentally and artistically, “Growing up the oldest of ten [fourteen now] with a single mother, a lot of pressure is put on your shoulders to set an example for my siblings. I struggled with that a lot. I wasn’t the best academically, was not very athletic, definitely wasn’t good at art by any means; AFH changed that for me. They were a home away from home. Rob, Stephen, Andy, Swat -- they were all more than mentors, they were family. They molded me, artistically, mentally, and culturally. They were very honest and didn’t spare feelings. They wanted you to know that you had room to grow, so you could become the best you could become. Rob always said, “Grow on, Flow on” and I intend on doing that exactly. While they mentored me in the arts, what I appreciated from the beginning and will until the end, is how much they visibly care for our development and well-being; even if we don’t choose to be artists later on.”

Mayor Walsh stands in front of a commissioned installation in the Bank of America lobby

Not only does AFH give teens an opportunity to explore various realms of art, but the program also allows them to experience working with clients directly and coming up with creative solutions. A recent example was a project for the Bank of America lobby, which was spearheaded by a fourteen-year-old AFH teen! Academic tutoring is also an important part of the AFH program: 100% of AFH high school seniors graduate on time and go to college, including top schools like Boston College, Georgetown University, RISD, and Tufts University. 

Given the success of AFH alumni it is clear how much impact the organization has on the lives of their teen participants. By supporting their careers, AFH creates young, innovative, and informed leaders who can redistribute the tools they’ve learned from AFH to the youth around them. 

Abigail Ogilvy Gallery looks forward to hosting a two day exhibition with AFH on June 2-June 3, 2018. Join us for a Spring Mixer the evening of June 2nd, all proceeds for the event will be donated to Artists For Humanity: Learn More

Artists For Humanity's (AFH) mission is to bridge economic, racial and social divisions by providing under-resourced urban youth with the keys to long-term economic and personal self-sufficiency through paid employment in art and design. AFH’s mission is built on the philosophy that engagement in the creative process is a powerful force for social change, and that creative entrepreneurship is a productive and life-changing opportunity for young people and enriches their communities. In 27+ years, AFH has grown to become a leader in youth development and one of the largest onsite employers of Boston teens. The next few years will be a transformative time for AFH with the expansion of the EpiCenter, which will allow AFH to double youth employment to 500+ teens annually. To learn more, visit: www.afhboston.org.  

Go Behind the Scenes at Artists For Humanity (AFH) where all six our bustling studios are alive with creative energy. Hear from co-founders Jason Talbot, Rob Gibbs, and Susan Rodgerson; participants Jonathan 'Pineapple' Tejeda, Jamaleek Bush, Samantha Shave, and Fred Plowright; as well as community members Nina Nielsen, Mel King, and John Cannistraro.