Leah often works with her husband and glass artist, Stephen Jon Clements
In her own words….
I was born in 1957, in Phoenix, Arizona. Ken Wingfield was a very talented commercial artist and art director and Mira Wingfield is an extremely creative mom with tons of style. My sister and I always made stuff and our parents always thought we were brilliant. Thanks Mom & Dad.
Then I was 19 and decided to be a potter. After a couple semesters of ceramics at the local community college, I started making and selling little sculptures. For 8 years I set a booth at local craft fairs and at one of these, I met Stephen Clements and Michael Joplin who were glass blowers in Tucson. Steve asked me to marry him that weekend and I agreed. However, before that really happened, I took a glass blowing class from them, got the glass bug then went to Pilchuck School as a student of Dan Dailey and came home and sold all of my ceramic stuff.
After hounding Alice Rooney for months in 1985, she hired me to be on staff at Pilchuck for 3 summers as one of the maintenance men (code name Mike). Additionally, I was the reader at the annual auction for 6 years (I had a knack for pronouncing the European artists’ names) and was a Teaching Assistant and Advanced Student for another 3 summers. I obtained a very unique education by having access to so many faculty from around the world. A lot of famous artists know me and their influence has been extremely important to me. My education has been primarily at the School of Hit and Miss and through apprenticing. I always fought with art teachers in grade school and high school, so didn’t take classes after freshman year.
Michael Joplin brought me to Tucson in 1986 to be his glassblowing assistant and I eventually became his head gaffer and worked with him for 6 years. I love blowing glass, but my ideas led me to casting as I could not realize them using blowing. Time also led me back to Steve (remember that marriage proposal?) and we created studios and a life in Tucson. We were involved in our individual work and between the two of us possessed a wide variety of glass working skills. My casting skills and sculpture started to mature during this time, the ’90’s, and I developed strong relationships with great galleries that I still work with today.
In 2001, we left Tucson and moved to Jacksonville, Oregon for cooler temperatures, woods, rivers, lakes and lots less people. It took us 2 years to complete the building of a new house and studio, a project we approached like sculpture. When we started working again, we began to collaborate more and have found it to be very rewarding and feel we produce our best work together. It allows us to mix materials and styles and opens the sculptures up to broader expression.
Travel is an inspiration and a dream for me. I love it and have had the opportunity to see a bunch of places, want to see more, and wish the airlines would get their act together. One of my very favorite places to be is rowing in my beautiful racing shell on a glassy lake. And smooches from our Dalmatian pooches provide me with 50% more laughter each day.
I’ve made lots and lots of sculptures, had lots and lots of shows around the globe, work with amazing galleries, will make lots and lots more sculptures and shows and intend to work until I die. I someday hope to make a masterpiece.
And that is Leah Camille Wingfield for you.
I.M. Pei said…“Find originality in the time, place and problem.”
This is a quote I keep nearby. Originality is a big one for me and something I always strive for.
This pursuit haunts me and can infect me with the “masterpiece” syndrome which can be paralyzing.
But as I have matured as an artist, I have been able to identify some of the boundaries of originality and understand what it means to me. For example, there is nothing new about working with the human figure and that used to trouble me. Until I realized that the figure is not the issue – the issue is to find an original way to express my thoughts using the figure. That pursuit is foremost for me. I take some pride in the fact that when a review is written about my work it is not compared to other artwork in order to describe it.
I have strong opinions about found object work for this reason. It can be clever arranging, but the use of someone else’s handiwork ultimately leaves me uninterested. I am hoping that someday soon a university glass program will declare that there will be no found objects used in glass casting. I am disappointed in new work by young people that is a demonstration of mold making and does not show any skills in modeling, sculpture or design. Please don’t make any more clothing out of glass, it’s been done. I feel the same way about music sampling. Taking a Billie Holiday recording and dubbing hip hop rhythms over it is awful. Why is that okay? Would it be alright to change the ending of a Hemingway novel or Picasso’s blue paintings to green?
These kinds of meanderings happen when I’m working on a new wax for a sculpture….time for my mind to wander….
About the “Conversations” series….
December 11, 2012
Currently we are thinking about “Conversations” and attempting to freeze a moment. What leads up to that moment and then follows it, is open to interpretation. It is very interesting to capture gestures that inspire stories created by each individual viewer. Each person brings their experiences to the story and will invent the narrative.
In creating environments for the figures to have their conversations, the challenge is to suggest a place that becomes a component in the story, without assigning too much information. We love to evoke the essence of architecture or abstract their furniture in an interesting and slightly off kilter manner, lending a little bit more spice to the story.
Our collaboration brings out the best in both of us. Steve brings an architectural edge and talent for seeing form to the drawing table, where Leah brings an eye for the figure and talent for a more organic approach to sculpting. Working through concepts, drawing, figuring out construction, answering problems and using our individual talents for materials and sculpting adds richness and depth to our process. We have the same goal and come at it from different experiences and points of view that blend to achieve the expression of our collective ideas.
Information for this article is taken from the Wingfield’s website: http://wingfield-clements-glass.com