Claire Millett Lima is a mixed media artist raised in coastal Newport, Oregon. At age 16, she dropped out of high school to focus on her education.
From her dad, she learned that being an artist is a way of seeing;
From her mom, she learned that art materials grow on trees;
From her backyard, she learned that weeds tell stories of survival;
From her hometown, she learned that misfits offer secret wisdom;
From her travels, she learned that unassuming places hold immense power;
From her thief, she learned to be comfortable with uncertainty;
From her guides, she learned to see beyond the lens of her opinions;
From her children, she learned to follow the path of play and curiosity;
From the ocean, she learned that she is nothing and everything;
From the forest, she learned the power of reflection and solitude.
My sculptures explore our human tendencies to cast judgments and form limiting beliefs and invite the viewer to challenge their perceptions, thereby broadening connections to place and community.
I demonstrate this through the story of society’s relationship with common urban ‘weeds’ and ‘invasives’. They are often labeled as problems to be eradicated but these warrior plants not only pioneer and regenerate inhospitable soils that have been disturbed due to human activity, but they are also underutilized sources of food and medicine. These plants surround us in urban landscapes and allow us the opportunity to foster relationships and positive associations with our surroundings.
My process begins with the act of making friends with the places these plants grow… along roadways, under power lines and around construction sites. After harvesting, I felt, weave or wrap the plants in various fibrous materials. The sculptures that emerge are lavish, harmonious forms that counteract and balance the lens through which these plants are seen. The forms’ surfaces are alive with texture and topographical elements, sometimes meandering and sometimes gridlike, to represent my physical journey and solidify the importance of placemaking. Shimmering gold and copper embellishments symbolize the higher frequencies where unity and understanding are experienced.