Silk painter Claire Vassort discuss her process, community involvement, and her inspirations
When it comes to painting, there are certain expectations we usually have for the canvas. Paper on an easel, maybe a wooden square, undecorated dishware, or some other typical flat piece. Clare Vassort has taken a wildly different approach though. Her canvas is silk.
Claire emigrated to America from France in 1988. She first lived in Pennsylvania before moving to the Chattanooga area to pursue her hobbies as a hang-gliding enthusiast and fan of the outdoors. She quickly became involved with the local community by displaying her art at the Area 61 Gallery.
As mentioned, Claire specializes in Silk Painting. Painting on silks is a long and difficult process that she has spent years mastering. Claire has been using her experience as a teacher and an avid member of the art community to teach others about the art form and its process.
Silk painting consists of four steps. First, the canvas must be created from the silk itself. The artist must then create what are called ‘Gutta lines’. These are lines of resin that act as barriers for the ink, ensuring it won’t flow into places the artist doesn’t want it to. Once this is done, the artist can start painting. The final step of the process is steaming the piece. This will set the colors.
Claire is entirely self-taught and has been silk painting for over 30 years now. She is heavily inspired by both ecology and concepts of motion.
“Adaptation is in everything,” Claire said. “I use the wind and the breeze as a symbol of this and of constant motion.”
With motion and perpetual change being huge themes for Claire, she has been using her artwork to express her feelings about the COVID-19 crisis. She has recently begun a new series that she calls the Transformation series with all of its pieces being focused on showing the process of adaptation and change.
“We can’t ignore the suffering,” Claire said. “Instead we should be finding new ways and ideas to strengthen the community.”
Claire is heavily involved not just in the Chattanooga community but is also in the art community of Rising Fawn, Georgia. This is where Claire has her studio, Silk By Claire. She has been joining with other artists in the area to help revive the art community in Rising Fawn through studio tours and new art projects.
In Chattanooga, Claire has taken part in many projects such as teaching silk painting to community members. She is now taking this involvement to the next level by joining with local visual artist and graphic designer Anna Carll to create 2CREATE. The two artists have joined forces as a team and become creative strategists for the cities 2020 art plans.
Photo by Takako Montgomery
While the COVID-19 crisis has caused 2CREATE to put their projects on hold, Claire is still staying active. She continues to work on her new series and is finding ways to use the internet to stay connected with the community.