“One of the things that excites me about working in the way that I do is that...if done seriously, artists who work in close dialogue with science have the ability to create a kind of third space — a space that is not strictly science and not strictly art.”
— Emilie Clark in Hyperallergic
Emilie Clark ’s airy watercolors are deceptively beautiful. (We first featured this work in 2012, when we helped supply the walls of the Alexander Hotel in Indianapolis with some eye-catching, thought-provoking art.)
At first glance, her detailed arrangements of twirling petals, leaping fish, and sprouting leaves look like a fanciful bouquet of the natural world. But there’s something awry in her underwater spectacle—it’s as if someone knocked over an aquarium and we’re left with the runoff. Still, it’s a beautiful mess.
It’s that attention to opposites that really makes Emilie Clark tick. And she finds her inspiration by looking at forgotten and under-known female scientists of the Victorian era.
For Untitled (EHR-36) from Sweet Corruptions , Clark looked to the studies of Ellen H. Richards, a prominent chemist responsible for major sanitation reforms in the 19th century. Richards found a balance in uniting scientific theory with home economics; she wrote a how-to manual, The Chemistry of Cooking and Cleaning (1882), all with the goal that improving a woman’s domestic sphere would allow more time for pursuits outside the kitchen.
Clark , unlike the Victorian scientist, seeks a middle ground between science and the home. Using Richards’s research as a starting point for a larger project, Clark preserved her own family’s food waste for nearly an entire year and then painted the detritus. They’re somewhat abstract, yet Clark has an eye for detail that any devotee of Audubon would admire. From it, she’s made something entirely her own.
That’s the type of creative endeavor we all pursue in our own lives—to create meaning out of the minimal and obscure, the beauty and the trash.
With art for everyone,
Jen + Team 20x200