My paintings with drawing, in oil, wax, and mixed media, of plants and their foliage, interspersed with objects of “still life”, celebrate the complexity of the natural world and our place in it. These works are both painting and drawing, abstract and representational, with line and shape. Some are monotypes mounted to panel; others are painted directly to paper or panel. All have drawn and incised elements. Pattern and repetition leave hints of still life’s narrative, patches of daylight, and memories of movement.
My experience in horticulture and organic land care has led me to focus in on the plant world and the assaults on the soil, biodiversity of plant species, and the protection of native flora. I feel that all these assaults arise from age-old and widely-held beliefs. One is that all the earth and its resources are ours as humans at the top of a hierarchy to use as we will. Another is that the other forms of life on this planet are lesser than we are, thus less deserving of respect or care.
I celebrate plants: their great age and history on the planet, their intelligence and successful adaptions, their beauty of form, shape, and infinite color. I marvel in our new knowledge of their ways of communication, of making themselves attractive to us and other species, and the trading of “goods and services” that goes on between plants, fungi, bacteria, insects, birds, and even us mammals. My aim is to help my viewers appreciate plant life a bit more when they enjoy my work and in a hopeful and positive way.
Debra Claffey is a visual artist who uses encaustic, oil, and mixed media in her work. She holds a BFA in Painting from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Tufts University and an Associate’s Degree in Horticultural Technology from the University of New Hampshire. In 2011, she received an Artist Entrepreneurial Grant from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Claffey’s work has won several awards, including the Second Place Award at the Monotype Guild of New England’s Fifth National Monotype Exhibition in May 2018 and the Juror’s Award at the Anything But Flat Exhibition at the Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill. Claffey has curated five exhibitions, the most recent being The Space Between Shadow and Light for the Eleventh International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown, Massachusetts in June 2017. She is a Past-President of New England Wax, and Past President of the NH Chapter of the Women’s Caucus for Art. Raised in Connecticut, educated in Massachusetts, she now lives and works in New Boston, New Hampshire.