02 Sep Artist Profile: Clovis Blackwell part 2
Last week we were talking with Clovis about his new series of work where he’s doing studies on Mushroom Clouds.
“untitled” | 11×14 | chinamarker on paper | 2010
LG: I’m curious as to why you picked the Mushroom Cloud and not say the “Robot Apocalypse” or the “Zombie Apocalypse” or the “Monkey Plague Apocalypse”?
CB: And there’s the Religious Apocalypse. [helicopter interruption]
CB: It’s because I grew up in the late Cold War when the threat of nuclear war was still very real, yet there was a cynicism about it. Since I was very young it was filtered through toys and movies which made it kind of glamorous. It wasn’t very frightening to me. You know the story that I like to tell people, I grew up with this G.I. Joe toy called “Rolling Thunder” and it was a mobile ICBM launcher. It actually had these toy missiles that raised up. For that to be a toy is pretty remarkable.
I don’t ever remember being afraid of bombs falling, yet I knew that was part of the background of my life. In fact that’s why it’s alluring to me, there was never any fear of the actual apocalypse it was always a gateway to these Hero stories that were part of my fantasy while growing up.
LG: How do you balance art, business, creativity, chores, how do you manage all those things, being artistic AND being a functioning adult?
CB: You know I’m still figuring that out. For the last 3 years I was in a grad program and when you’re in school you have an extrinsic driver. You’ve got someone who’s watching over you and keeps you going. The trouble is when you get out and you don’t have that anymore, how do you keep it going? And of course I had a baby boy right after graduating. So I was a little worried that life would interfere. But I’m really excited that in this period I’ve started a new body of work. I’m really compelled, really excited about doing it.
But I have to try hard to find studio time because I’ve got a baby boy, a job, and I’m going to start teaching pretty soon. Trying to manage all that is really tough and I’m still trying to figure out what will work best. Is it getting work done at night after people go to sleep? Or trying to carve out certain times? I think what is really helpful is finding people to keep you accountable. I’ve joined a critique group with people I went to school with and am doing that once a month. It’s still a process though, there are so many life things. This boy is amazing [laughs] but is really tiring too. So I’m still figuring that out. That’s the phase of life I’m in right now. It’s really exciting but it’s also a challenge. It’s a trial.
LG: It is a trial.
CB: There could be some transformation there.
LG: Hopefully no nuclear apocalypse…
CB: No apocalypses
LG: At least not until the boy can pick up a Carbine.
CB: Yeah, he has to be available to help out. Carry a backpack at least.
LG: So if you weren’t doing art, what do you think you’d be doing?
CB: I would have been an astronaut.
LG: That’s probably the best possible answer.
CB: I mean it, I had these two life paths getting out of high school. To be fair, I chose the art path in High School. I took art classes instead of physics, but if I wasn’t doing art I definitely would have been an astronaut. You know in high school I was voted “Most Likely to live on the moon.” And “Most Artistic” so…there it is.
LG: There you go. Are you reading or watching anything right now?
CB: If I read during the day, Xavier will try and eat the book. So that’s kind of challenging. Mostly I’m reading a lot of comics. I’m reading “Walking Dead,” “Chew,” “Unwritten,” “Day Tripper,” and some Marvel Universe stuff, “Uncanny X-men” and “Avengers.” I just watched “The Road” which does not portray the post-apocalyptic life as very appealing, although there is still this kind of glimmer of hope. It’s really dim but, the Father talks to the Son about “carrying the fire.” And how do you carry that fire? But the son still does even when there is no hope. There’s nothing, no plant life at all, you’re just surviving on what’s left. Contrast that film with “The Book of Eli” which is more in-line with the view of the post-apocalypse that I was thinking of growing up. There’s a badass hero with a quest. This hero is on a journey and he struggles to survive and bring light and truth. It’s really appealing.
Also, recently played the “Fallout” video game. This post-apocalyptic thing continues even today.
And I watch a lot of crappy sci-fi, horror, and action movies. Yeah, a lot of really bad stuff.
LG: One last question, what’s your favorite episode of The Real Luke?
CB: I like the Japan one a lot, but I’d have to go with the Bigfoot. I think the survival-horror episode with the Bigfoot was probably my favorite.
LG: Cool. Where can people see more of your work?
CB: They can check out my website, www.clovisblackwell.com and, pending the Dean’s approval, take my screenprinting class at Azusa Pacific University starting in the Fall.
Thanks for checking out my first artist interview! And a big thanks to Clovis for being my space monkey. Any questions you’d like me to ask in the next one?