We had the good fortune of connecting with Clifford Eberly and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Clifford, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
Creativity makes me happy because it is a gift and talent I possess that I can share with everyone. If my art inspires others to seek education, no matter what field, than I have achieved my purpose. Education is the remedy for societal ills. If we can make quality education available to all, our country will thrive.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
After completing the 2 year MFA program from Claremont Graduate University in 2012, I moved to the Arts District and started working on a series of collage works called L.A. Lover. I combed the nearby sidewalks, streets and bins for detritus I found interesting. From paper scraps to knitted castoffs, I assembled my ready made materials on my studio table and glued them down on the hand made frottaged paper. I felt a natural affinity between the proximity of the L.A. River and the L.A. Water street covers and transformed “WATER” to read “LOVER” on the rubbings. I illustrated the duality of loving L.A. and L.A. somehow loving me—whether the people or the buildings and natural environment. Now, the series is becoming more emblematic of the city as a whole with the myriad of cultures and peoples that love making lives for themselves here no matter what the odds. What sets my art and the L.A. Lover series in particular uniquely apart is the originality of forms and proprietary process I developed and the people I choose to memorialize who may be lesser known. I am most proud I was chosen as a recipient of the Curators Lab grant from the Fellows of Contemporary Art in 2019. For my exhibition Code Word Safe the six artists addressed the idea of safety in a variety of medias; from painting to installation, through narratives of celestial astrology, folk symbols, Greek tragedy, social injustice, word play games and urban planning. When researching an exhibition, I disengage from my art practice to intellectually and critically address a theme. My goal is to reveal and draw connections to contemporary life through artists’ diverse phenomenological works. To overcome a challenge, I ask for help. This way, friends, family and colleagues are aware of my projects. Solutions are offered and our relationships are strengthened. Remaining in a silo is damaging, isolating and should be avoided. What I find easy about being an artist is knowing that I cannot not be an artist. Art is like air to me–vital for my physical and mental being. My art and curatorial practice is always evolving; with ideas reaching like roots growing under fertile soil in all directions waiting for the right moment to rise up, be noticed and appreciated in the light by all to see. I never stop learning from history, other artists, my brilliant husband Tim, and my family. We are all artists- it just takes a spark in our imaginations to guide us to the bottomless well of creativity.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend came to visit L.A., I would show them a time they would never forget. Upon arrival at LAX I would pick them up and head directly to Malibu Farm Pier Cafe and have a relaxing, negative ion recharge lunch as the waves crash on the shore below us. Next we would check in at the Shangri-La Hotel in Santa Monica. Built in 1939 the hotel boasts a rooftop bar with sweeping views of the coast and ocean below with an outdoor cafe and pool courtyard. For dinner we would walk to Giorgio Baldi and hopefully see some celebs while catching up over several courses of the best Italian food around L.A. Next day we would rise early and go for a walk in Palisades Park, visit the Camera Obscura, walk out to the pier to watch the magicians, seals and check out the best Farmers Market in southern California on the Promenade. We would then visit the Getty Museum and enjoy a picnic lunch in the gardens designed by artist Robert Irwin. I would insist on visiting the Getty Villa before returning to the hotel for a nap. Next day we would check into the legendary Chateau Marmont and explore Sunset Plaza, Sunset Strip and take a chance on a show at the Comedy Store. For dinner we would go to Sunset Tower to schmooze with the arts glitterati before a surprise show at the Troubadour by my friend’s favourite band. Before decamping to Downtown L.A for a few nights where we would stay at the Intercontinental we would attend an auction at Bonhams, watch a ground-breaking dance piece at the Center for the Art of Performance on the campus of UCLA, the latest exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, LACMA and the Underground Museum. While staying downtown, we would visit the Central Market, the Bradbury building, MOCA, the Broad and the Redcat Theater for a unique black box performance. If we had time, other farther afield sites to visit from Downtown L.A. are Mount Baldy, the Rose Bowl Flea Market, the Brand Library and the Huntington Library and Gardens.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Over time, my artistic development has grown positively because I met 3 arts instructors who were generous and forthright in their creative beliefs while looking at the world through art. Their three points of view guided me to envision my unique creative path. In high school my art teacher Faith Lange taught me to believe in my potential as an artist despite growing up in rural Pennsylvania. She was the first person who I met who had been to Italy to study art. While striving for my BFA degree in Fibers at the Savannah College of Art and Design, my professor Deborah First taught me to make informed material decisions that shaped my career and mixed media area of emphasis in art. Rachel Lachowicz, the LA based artist and my thesis committee chair at Claremont Graduate University, supported my intellectual and conceptual development that continues to propel me to reach new levels of critical inquiry today.
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