Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique  discovering  thesis and processes behind the work.








Conversation between Jennifer Clay and Olivia Ramos.



Jennifer Clay


RAMOS:  hi Jen


Thank you for joining me.


CLAY:  yay


So I thought you wanted to a video chat.


But I am a fast typer too  ☺


The conversation happens in type form, that way I can publish the real thing.

oh perfect!


I love that


It makes things a lot easier and the reader gets to read your words, instead of my interpretation.


Happy you have joined the conversation.


 Awesome. I am a bad speller though.


No worries, i can take care of misspellings...


Thanking you for inviting me to do this.


I am a fan of your work.


Really enjoy it.


Oh wow I am honored, I am always unsure if anyone will be into it.


Especially when I am performing.


The costumes are phenomenal.


So complex yet theres a structure and unity to the placement of every piece.


Thank you, I just figured out a new way a building so that the costumes I am making now have " puppet " parts.


I wanted to mig weld the frames for awhile but I am making due till I can buy a welder.


Also I really love combining textures and colors. I am really excited about the current project I am working on. I hope the costumes or really "performative sculptures" do something unexpected for the viewers.


What happens to the costumes after the show is over?


In the past, they fold up and are stored away. but this summer I will start to use them more for live stream performances.. live motivational speakers where the costumed ambiguous creatures speaker directly to the viewer.


But I have showed them on their own too. but that sort of viewing isn't my intention


Or at least I don't like to show them alone with out another element like sound or air muscles that would move them or video of them.


In a way you never want them to be static sculptures.




I am working on translating the performance or video works of mine to sculptures but I am not sure how with out some sort of interaction from the viewer .. like a book experience or even using motion detectors.


Do you mean making a book out of each piece?


Or I mean motion sensors.


There are multiple ideas there, i am trying to understand each one.


Yes, I am working on a book currently which is a prologue or foreshadowing of a performance piece.. while working on it I realized that a book can be a experience for the viewer like a performance is a experience .




It also keeps the piece alive


And I was thinking about how a gallery setting for a upcoming show can also be a unique experience.. I really want the viewer to feel like my work is singling them out.


So using air muscles or motors or motion sensors .. like a art haunted house.


When you say singling them out... what exactly do you mean?


So like how a narrator of children's educational TV shows speak directly to the child .. I mimic that in my work by using a narrator but I want to do it physically as well.  for me it goes into a uncanny experience like a inanimate object turning to look at you. I want the audience to feel looked at..


I am sure how successful I am at doing that..but It's a goal.


That effect could be had in books as well


Yes, I hope so .. the book that I making now with IS Projects for their Existent books program, the being/ alien/otherness manifested speaks directly to the reader in the obsessed sort of mantra.


I'm not sure why i am a bit obsessed with this... but i'll roll with it... so the book will preserve the narrative, the structure of the performance, the tone, the logic of the costume, the image of the costume. That makes me happy, and i very much look forward to getting a copy.


But what about the actual costume?


Have you thought about making pieces out of them?


They are so beautiful... even if they were flat in a frame, it would be an amazing piece.


The though of them being folded in a box somewhere makes me sad.


I have actually. but the costumes are meant to represent otherness, seemingly friendly hallucinations or extraordinary experiences.. so with out the extra elements I haven't gotten to a point of figuring out how to show them on their own.


But I am working on showing elements of the costumes.


Also no one has approached me about showing them.. I think if someone or places interested then I would.. I forgot about that part. hahaha


Not so much about showing them, although that's part of it.


I am thinking more about selling them.


Oh yeah, money.


I guess I have always been so focused on getting grants that I forget that people could be interested in buying the work.


I have characters that keep showing up in my work  like the Sleep Eater , with is a puppet / soft sculpture with a appendage that comes down and attaches to people heads.. So I have always thought that I would keep them all to reuse them over and over.. but recently I had to disassemble some to make room for new work.. so It would be great if someone bought some so I would have some more space.


But I guess I would still feel sort of sad about a performative or wearable sculpture being shown and not being allowed to be touched or activated. but if the costume was on a disco ball motor and spun around .. then I would be totally happy.


I didn't realize I was so strict about my work till just now


Well that's a good thing... and perhaps they don't have to be cut into pieces and framed, they might be a sculpture, like filled in with something that would make them sturdy.


I can imagine a range, just think there is so many ways to skin it.


I am making fiber works that are stand alone pieces.. I recently got my first serger.


What do you mean by serger?


Serger is a sewing tool like a sewing machine but pulls thread from multiple points and makes a thread chain while cutting fabric at the same time.. its using on most clothes at the ends so it doesn't unravel.


I am using to sort of collage different textures together.


Right, but that's a two-dimensional piece?


I am going to be in a fiber show at the Hollywood Art and Cultural Center called Plush.


Yeah it is really.


I never really thought about myself as being a "fiber artist" until this show.


Because I work with claymation, video, paper.. it's all just been means to a end for me to create this "experience" for the viewer.


Let's talk about the experience a little more.




If you can narrow down, or distill your intention, how would you describe it?


Well first I am not saying that I actually do this but it's the reason why I make work.. I want to create a unexpected experience for viewer similar to hallucinations or alien/ super natural encounters.


I mimic a lot of aspects of children's educational TV to create a safe , comfortable atmosphere that I then subvert.


Distorting reality to what cause?


I want viewers to question their perspective and what is safe and normal.. I am depicting the un-logical or dysfunction in the normal and mundane.


I am influenced from horror movies and stories which depict the abnormal existing in the normal.


So for me horror movies are a metaphor for anxiety and fear.. like a alien abduction story conveys the same feeling of being in a abusive relationship .. or the Texas Chain Saw Murder movie conveys the same feeling as being in ( insert traumatic experience here) .  So the experiences I create are often metaphors for anxiety and trauma.


What do you get out of it? having people go through that.


Oh wow, I have never thought about what I get out it.


I want people to have a dissonant experience to better understand people who have experiences a chaotic unexplained event.


Like I have this Void character that is like the manifestation of being afraid of the dark.. its a not a good guy and in performances The Void try to talk you into being its friend .. for me The Void is like being approached by depression as a entity. .. So I think what I get out of it is being better understood.


Also I am obsessed with these other worldly experiences like unexplained ghost sightings and ufos and such. I think I am making this work for myself and people happen to be there to see it.


Wait a minute... i think this subject of being approached by depression, or in my case addiction - is something a lot of people can relate to. I am very touched by it now, your work, even more than before.


And i identify for sure.


I wonder how overt it is, or how much you want it to be.


I know its subtle .. originally all my work was based off of children's hallucinations which are a side effect of being neglected  and I would juxtapose the costumes in places similar where the neglect took place .. usually suburban homes.


Oh wow that is some serious stuff.


And very relevant and real.


I really do wish it was more obvious, i think so many people would be affected by it... or already are


Yeah I am just not there yet I guess.


Sometimes people get it when they watch my video work.


But not everyone.