Anyone who happens to drop by the WSU Museum of Art between January 13 and April 2, 2011 will notice the display of creativity from Claudia Fitch. Her collection spans more than two decades (1987-2010). Fitch graduated in 1975 with a BFA in painting from the University of Washington and received her MFA in painting in 1979 from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. She currently resides and works in Seattle, and her art is displayed at both the Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle as well as the Adam Baumgold Gallery in New York.
The majority of Fitch’s art exhibitions have been featured in New York and Seattle, but she has had her work featured as far away as the Netherlands. Her first piece was a miniature cityscape in the midst of a real cityscape in New York, which creates an interesting contrast. Some of Fitch’s fellowships include the New York State Council on the Arts, through Sculpture Space, Utica (1989), the Artist Trust Fellowship in Visual Arts, Seattle (1992), and the Art + Architecture Program Fellowship, European Ceramics Work Center (2006). Fitch was also commissioned to create artwork for the Eastgate Park and Ride in Bellevue and those visiting Qwest Field in Seattle might have noticed her creation entitled “The Colossal Heads.”
On January 20, a reception and lecture on Fitch’s artwork were held in WSU’s art building. During the reception, visitors to the art museum had the opportunity to stroll around the room and peruse Fitch’s creations, while munching on snacks or sipping drinks. It doesn’t take an expert art critic to notice that Fitch’s work presents a strong contrast in medium and shape. Fitch has created a range of pieces, some of which are 3-D, attached to the walls or sitting on the floor, as well as traditional pencil-drawn pictures made to hang on the wall. She easily combines 2-D and 3-D structures and plays with a range of shapes to create a final product.
Keith Wells, curator of exhibitions in the WSU Art Museum, writes that Fitch “cannot be classified by her materials. In fact, her accomplishments in painting, draftsmanship, sculpture and installation make it difficult to categorize her by medium or technique.”
During the lecture, Fitch discussed her work at length, for about an hour. As she talked, Fitch clicked through slides of her artwork, displayed on the projector screen. She described the inspiration for her art, which is often related to dreams that she has. Another interesting source of creativity is her postcard collection, from which she conducts silhouette studies as well as flocking. Fitch’s work isn’t easily defined, and she has to trust the way that things are put together—going with her gut instinct of what feels right in order to develop a piece of artwork. When Claudia went to school in the 1970s, she says that post-modernism was popular, and she also cannot avoid looking at art through a cultural lens.
In an interview with Debby Stinson from the WSU Museum of Art, Fitch comments on what she perceives as the message of her art: “I like to bring the bland conventional together with the personal use of art (as in a statue) and see them interplay. I love the quote, ‘Art deepens the mystery.’…I try to let the message be an afterthought… I hope my art has humor, and my personal vision is brought to bear against the cultural convention and somehow, somewhere in the process, the mystery of art comes through.”