by Mary Koenen Clausen and Susan Heggestad
The Constant One, 2014
Mary Koenen Clausen (American, b. 1953)
Gift of the artist. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. UM2015.19
Purchased with funds from the Office of the Vice President for Research. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. U2015.6
Susan Heggestad and Mary Koenen Clausen are mixed media artists who use texture, layering, and found objects in their works of art. Both artists write of their desire to play with texture, layering, transparency, and tactility as a way to explore the physicality of the things around them, leading to questions of being, sensing, and experiencing the world. Heggestad wants to know just what it means to ‘be’ in the world: “how we come to experience, both physically and mentally, just who it is we think we are.”
Similarly, Mary Koenen Clausen writes of her “lensing system” that allows her to look at objects in a particular way. She tells the story of becoming a “voluntary mute” at age five in order to remove herself, layer by layer, from the physical realm of her surroundings, allowing herself to simply observe and reflect on the happenings around her.
How do these two works (Orange Hands and The Constant One) allow us to look at the world in new ways? What does it mean to remove the arms from the body, to pair limbs with found objects, to challenge corporality, and to introduce subjectivity through the experience of hands, touch, and sense? Similarly, how does The Constant One allow us to experience subjectivity in relation to other beings (animals floating above and below the central figure, text juxtaposed with image and shapes)?
-Dr. Ruxandra Looft