About Claire Lenahan
Claire Lenahan is an artist working with the idea of queering away from, and the queer experience against, the “straight-edge” of the societal norm. She explores this through disrupting the extension of bodies into space by queering familiar objects, causing disorientation.
She received a fully funded Graduate Teaching Assistantship for three years during her MFA where she was the Instructor of Record for three ceramics courses and a Teaching Assistant for two. She was a studio assistant to potter Bob Meier, and artists Lynn Duryea and April Flanders. She has exhibited her work at the annual NCECA Juried Student Exhibition in Cincinnati, Ohio, Master of Fine Arts Candidates II Exhibition in Gainesville, Florida, Ten Years of Appalachian State Ceramics at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum in North Carolina, and other locations in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, and China. She has also been featured in two publications exhibiting her artwork. She received her BFA in Studio Art from Appalachian State University and MFA in Studio Art (Ceramics) at the University of Florida.
When drawn by the human hand, the line is never truly straight. Never truly vertical. Never truly horizontal. Never perfectly “on-point.” To get a true straight line we need assistance from a “straight-edge.” Since birth, we are told and shown to be straight. It is built into our culture socially, politically, religiously, and through inheritance – it is the societal norm. This “straight-edge” was created to make a perfect line, a perfect image. Despite this “straight-edge” some may stray, experiencing their lives in a non-linear way creating a path toward their desires—becoming queer.
The objects I make disrupt the extension of bodies into space, causing disorientation. I am inspired by dining tables, which are places of ritualistic gathering, communication, and connection of family and friends; and the functional objects we use every day on them. I use clay to make these functional objects and found wood dining tables-- changing their expected design to challenge the user. This transformation subverts the original object.
These everyday utilitarian table wares are conventional to western domesticity; designed to look perfect, function flawlessly, and are mass-produced by molds that spit out replicas. It is a control of aesthetics and utilitarianism. I queer this “straight-edge” process in my work. I alter form to imply deviation. My lack of prototyping leads to unexpected results which are embraced. I make each object by hand using throwing and handbuilding techniques, creating unique individual pieces. The use of porcelain refers not only to commercial wares, but also the vulnerable, delicate, and precarious queer experience in a heteronormative society.
The disorientation people may feel while using my objects withdraws them from a familiar secure space, opening new directions and possibilities. How and if people choose to then reorient themselves toward my objects is up to them.