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Clara Lieu

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Artist Statement
“I am the founder of Art Prof, and currently a Partner. From 2007-2020, I taught as an
 Adjunct Professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, teaching in Illustration, Printmaking, Foundation Studies, and Painting. For 7 years, I taught at RISD Project Open Door, a free college access program for urban teens in RI in the department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design and in the RISD Pre-College Program. In the past I have taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, at Wellesley College, and at the Lesley University College of Art and Design. I have traveled to Guangzhou, Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, and Vancouver to lecture and teach workshops. 

I wrote Ask the Art Prof, an advice column for visual artists in the Huffington Post. I have written articles for the New York TimesEducation Week, and my artwork has been published in the British Journal of Psychiatry and in The Figure: Contemporary Perspectives. I was the Director of the Jewett Gallery for three years where I curated, organized, and installed both professional and student exhibitions. I have lectured at Brown University, the RISD Museum, Simmons College, the Cape Ann Art Museum, the Fitchburg Art Museum, the National Art Education Association conference, the Attleboro Museum of Art, and more.

Exploring the extremities of human emotion, I use the human figure as a vehicle for expression in multiple techniques in drawing, printmaking, and sculpture. My artwork has been exhibited at the International Print Center New York, Bromfield Gallery, the Danforth Museum of Art, Mark Miller Gallery, the Currier Museum of Art, Childs Gallery, and the Davis Museum.

I have received artist grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and the Puffin Foundation. I have been profiled in Art New England, WBUR, Hyperallergic, Two Coats of Paint, WCVB-TV’s Chronicle, and Artscope Magazine. My prints are in the collection of the Hood Museum of Art and the Barbara and David Stahl collection.”

Video Transcript

Prof Lieu: “I’m Professor Lieu, and I’m a fine artist working in drawing, printmaking, and sculpture. I love teaching Studio Art because of how open and free it is, and how totally unpredictable the creative process can be. When I’m teaching, I have to be so alert. I have really be on my toes and really ready to react to anything that might happen.”

Casey: “I was really afraid when I made my decision to go to art school that that decision would ultimately be the wrong one because I remember getting School in that first week and we were doing all these orientation Ice-breaker games, and I was afraid that the rest of the 4 years would be just like that … this kind of ‘summer camp’, but, I was immediately relieved of that fear the first day I arrived in Professor Lieu’s drawing class. More importantly, during our first critique, she said that I had great technique, but that with such poor compositional skills I may as well have not made the drawing at all.”

Prof Lieu: “In elementary school, I had art class every week for 1 hour, and I remember those days that we had art class that my classroom teacher would write the daily schedule on the board and when I saw the word ‘art’ I got so excited thinking about all the things I was going to get to do in art class.

When I got to middle school, because it was no longer something that you got to take all the time, it just disappeared from the curriculum. I was so shocked by that, and things didn’t improve when I got to high school. I knew in high school that I had this passion for visual art but I never met an actual working artist. To me, artists were people who I read about in textbooks and who were on the plaques at museums, I didn’t really know that they existed within our day-to-day lives.

I looked at some of my peers who were musicians and they were studying with the top musicians in town. I looked at the athletes in my high school and they were going to these prestigious National Soccer Tournaments full of opportunities, but for me there was almost nothing. There were just a few classes here and there that I would take, but there was nothing substantial or rigorous that really measured up to what I was looking for in my high school.

Our program was always underfunded, and we barely had any supplies to work with and the few teachers that we had had such a demanding schedule and they were so overworked that they really just didn’t have the resources to support the kind of intensive program I was looking for.

When I started teaching college, and I was talking to my students about their experience trying to learn visual art before they came to art school and I couldn’t believe that they had pretty much the exact same story that I had, and that pretty much nothing had changed in 20 years. I realized that, because I was a college professor, I could change things. I could create the visual arts resource that I wanted so badly when I was a teenager. it didn’t exist for so long, but today it does.”

Lauryn: “When I was in art school, I was really stressed out and nervous for my final critique in Professor Lieu’s class. But, during the review, she told me that I had a Herculean work ethic, and now, whenever I’m feeling really down or upset about myself or my work, I think about that comment that she made and it makes me feel like I can get through this.”

Prof Lieu: “People are always saying to me, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be great if you were independently wealthy and could afford to do your art all the time?’ And my answer to that is no, it wouldn’t be that great. For me, my teaching and my studio practice are so totally integrated with each other that I just couldn’t imagine doing one without the other.”

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