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Claudia EsslingerProfessor of Art Kenyon CollegeStudio Art
Gambier Ohio 43022 United Stateshome Home Phone: 7405045896home Website: claudia esslinger
Claudia Esslinger is a visual artist working experimentally with digital media, both photography and video, as well as sculptural installations and prints. She often collaborates with writers, musicians, dancers, scientists to develop her projects for gallery exhibition, screenings and publication. Recent photography ranges from panoramas of Italian ecclesiastical architecture to tropical images of Reunion Island, east of Madagascar. Recent new media work has included custom electronics that use “smart glass’ film.
A common thread throughout her projects is a poetic exploration of inequities in both humanity and nature. By juxtaposition of challenging, seductive, intriguing or humorous elements, she opens the work to a wide range of interpretation. Working with dancers and composers has resulted in richly textured work that has been performed internationally or screened at international film festivals.
Originally from Long Island, N.Y., Esslinger holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota. She has been the recipient of seven Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Excellence awards and a New Forms Regional Grant (NEA). She has been an artist-in-residence at the Omora Ethnobotanical Preserve near Cape Horn in Chile, Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, CA, Singing Pictures workshop in Seoul, South Korea and the Grafikwerkstaadt in Dresden, Germany. She has taught at Kenyon College since 1984. In 2019 she was the director of the Kenyon-Rome program.
Although each of my projects has a separate focus, commonalities are found through a central concern about inequities and the way that artistic processes can confront them, especially with the use of digital media. I do not seek to be didactic, but rather raise questions by juxtapositions of seductive, intriguing or humorous elements.
Themes are filtered through the media used, whether photography and video, or custom electronics and installation. The media re-orders or layers the images through its inherent characteristics, increasing the opportunity for interpretive variations. The surprising results due to these characteristics is often a reward of the dialog between artist and process. Working with dancers, composers, writers and scientists has also enriched the work adding implied narratives and metaphors.
In this archive, Snow Migrant follows a central character embedded in an alternative landscape that questions her preparedness. With both humor and poignancy, the images can provoke thoughts of a changing climate. The photographs included in this registry are also related to an ongoing video project.
Distant Tracing similarly lives in both video and photographic formats. It began as a video project that traced the movements of a young girl on a journey. It now lives in still images of that same girl in a remote tropical climate (Distant Tracing: Reunion).
The photographic project Specimens and Reflections is comprised of panoramic photograph constructions of ecclesiastical architecture in Italy, composited in dialog with software. The raw images were gathered during a recent semester in Rome. These panoramas are jumbled forms that flatten the three-dimensional spaces into puzzles of perception. Rather than combining horizontal segments of a landscape into a linear whole, these fragments fold in on themselves with more deformation than a traditional panorama. Their overall shapes remind one of natural history specimens twisting and curling into place. Indeed, these composed images are cultural, historical specimens that reveal detailed curiosities and purpose when examined closely. They allow us to re-imagine these spaces with their layers of material and mystery, devotion and history, wealth and poverty. Poet Royal Rhodes has written responsive poems for each image which are included in an exhibition and a companion book.
This recent work tends toward still photography but is intimately connected to the process-oriented work of my video and installation projects which can be seen on my website.