Martha Clippinger, a North Carolina painter and textile designer, is always exploring the relationships of color, and often off-kilter geometrics, in her many works.
The artist: Clippinger grew up in Columbus, GA, and headed After high school, she headed to New York to study art history. She received a BA from Fordham University in 2005 and an MFA in visual arts from Mason Gross School of Art at Rutgers University in 2008.
In 2014, she left the New York area to study indigenous textile traditions in Oaxaca, Mexico, through the support of Fulbright grand.
She currently lives and works in Durham, NC.
The studio: Clippinger works out of her studio in the basement area of her house in Durham. She started making paintings in 2003 and began an ongoing collaboration with two Oaxacan weavers in 2014.
In the beginning: Growing up, Clippinger was given a lot of freedom to make things. As a child, she would combine scraps of wood and make painted sculptures. In high school, she designed and made costumes for the school’s plays. She also learned how to make a quilt from Georgia master quilter Cathy Fussell at age 18.
In college, Clippinger began focusing more on making colorful, geometrically abstract paintings largely inspired by the Quilts of Gee’s Bend exhibition that she saw at the Whitney in 2002.
The goods & materials: Colorful, abstract works that range widely from small painted wood constructions and woven wool tapestries, to large three-dimensional murals, hand-sewn quilts, prints, and ceramic reliefs.
Many of her pieces serve as both functional objects and as works of art.
What’s popular: Woven wool “tapetes” (Spanish for “rugs). The tapetes ($750 to $3,000) are designed by Clippinger and woven by master weavers Licha Gonzalez Ruiz and Agustín Contreras López of Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca. Mexico.
Other favorites: Woven wool handbags ($40 to $165).
- The observation of color relationships.
- The intersection of fine art and craft.
- Textile traditions of weavings and quilts
- Artists: St. EOM (aka Eddie Owens Martin), Sophie Taeuber Arp, Anni and Josef Albers, Helio Oiticica, Sonia Delaunay, Alma Thomas (hometown hero) and Luis Barragan.
Fun, special or unusual requests: Painted the risers of her friends’ stairs, to create a vertical, geometric composition that is only visible when ascending the staircase.
Big break (s):
- Received a free studio in NYC through the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation’s “Space Program” in 2010.
- Fulbright grant to Mexico in 2014.
Awards/honors: Many including:
- Finalist, Society 1858 Prize for Contemporary Art, Gibbes Museum, Charleston, SC, 2019
- Arts & Industry Residency, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI, 2018
- Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artists Grant, Durham Arts Council, Durham, 2017
Recent work & shows:
- “Textiles & Objects” solo exhibition at Elizabeth Harris Gallery, NYC, 2021
- “Vibrating Boundaries” solo exhibition at Warren Wilson College, NC, 2021
- “Switch Point” large, outdoor mural in Raleigh, 2020
- A large group of silk-screened monoprints, produced with master printmaker Bill Fick, a commission through Hodges Taylor gallery for Truist in Charlotte.
What’s next: In 2022, a three-person show with artists Susan Klein and Mark Brosseau at the University of Georgia.
Get social at:
- Instagram: marthaclippinger
- Facebook: marthaclippinger