Artist for Hire; Visual Arts: Functional/Decorative, Instructor, Mixed Media, Murals, Painting; term
Artist Maureen Claffy has a very generous heart. The works that she makes in a variety of media—including acrylic, ink, pencil and mixed media—are meant to remind her viewer of life’s heartfelt joys and beauties. “I paint to encourage others to believe,” Claffy states, “and to serve as a reminder that life is beautiful even when it doesn’t seem that way.”
Primarily a watercolorist who sometimes switches to thinned acrylics, Claffy creates large format works on canvas, paper and birchwood. Claffy works both independently and for clients: one recent commission centered on family relationships.
Vibrant, expansive and dense with symbols, Claffy’s works also demonstrate the artist’s interest in embracing chaos and letting go.
This emotional fearlessness, rooted in Claffy’s profound optimism and faith, is her way of letting her own love of life leave traces in the form of art. Claffy has said that “Making art is as essential as breathing for me,” and her considerable emotional and artistic energies go hand in hand.
There is a sense of the miraculous in her work, and an essential gratitude in everything she does.
Although Claffy’s work is distinctively hers, you can feel the underlying presence of creative figures that she admires. Van Gogh’s sense of color is certainly there and so is a sense of the organic that might come from Celtic art or the architecture of Antonio Gaudi. During a visit to Paris, Claffy came under the spell of Claude Monet’s sweeping Nymphéas (water lily) murals. Monet’s paintings, which were made after the terrors of World War One were his way of trying to heal the world. Standing in front of them Claffy had an ephiphany: “Beauty is very powerful. It changes the world for the better. I believe in Beauty. That’s why I paint.”
Claffy is inclined to work in themed series. She likes to focus her ideas on a central symbol or metaphor and then let the imagery flow.
For example, her “Heart” series came after an extraordinary experience of holding an actual human heart, and grew into a metaphorical exploration of the “language” of the human heart. The “Quilting Series,” used the varied and improvisational imagery of quilts as a departure to discuss the way that we structure and arrange our lives. The “Knitting Series” dealt with themes of nurturance and caring using the metaphor of hand-knit garments.
Working from personal emotions and observations, Claffy moves towards connection and shared appreciation. Nothing gives her more satisfaction than when a collector—who inevitably will also become a friend if they aren’t already—lets her know what they feel and experience when living with one of her works. “It’s overwhelming,” Claffy says, “to have them appreciate my work.”
You could say that Maureen Claffy is building networks of friendship and shared beauty one image at a time. It’s a generous and extremely positive way of living and of making art.
John Seed is a professor of art and art history at Mt. San Jacinto College in Southern California. Winner of a 2002 Society of Professional Journalists award in art and entertainment writing, and a 2012 Creative Capital arts writers grant finalist, he has written about art and artists for Arts of Asia, Art Ltd., Harvard Magazine, The HuffingtonPost and Hyperallergic.
Maureen Claffy: A Generous Heart was written by John Seed
Maureen Claffy, American Fine Artist
The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, Certificate of Painting (2007-2014)
Atelier Studies and Private Instruction, Dublin, Ireland (2005-2006)
The American Academy of Art, Chicago, Illinois (1987-1989)
University of Illinois, B.A. English Literature & French (1982-1986)
L’Universite d’Aix-Marseille III, Aix-en-Provence, France, D.E.U.G Studies in Lettres Modernes (1984-1985)
2017, The Sanctuary on Penn, Indianapolis, Indiana “For Doug”
2017, Bistro 750, Chicago, Illinois “The Seed Series”
2017, Village Antiques, Hinsdale, Illinois “Patterned Universes”
2016, Reinvent Gallery, Lake Forest, Illinois “Heart and Soul”
2016, Urban Edge Gallery, Waukegan, Illinois “Body and Soul”
2016, The Bridgeport Art Center, Chicago, Illinois “Grand Opening”
2014, The Lakeview Art Fair, Chicago, IL Juried Participant
2014, The Gold Coast Art Fair, Chicago, IL Juried Participant
2014, The 57th Street Art Fair, Hyde Park, IL, Juried Participant
2014, The Mothers’ Day Art Fair, Solo Exhibition, Hinsdale, IL
2013, The One of a Kind Show, Chicago, IL, Juried Fine Art Participant
2013, The Ravenswood Art Walk, Chicago, IL, Featured Artist
2013, The Oakbrook Invitational Art Fair, Oak Brook, IL Artistic Merit Award
2013, The Glenview Art League Art Fair, Glenview, IL Excellence Award
2013, The Hinsdale Fine Art Fair, Hinsdale, IL Honorable Mention
2013, The Mothers’ Day Art Show Solo Exhibition, Hinsdale, IL
2011, The Hinsdale Public Library, Hinsdale, IL “Art and Motherhood”
2011, The Blackbird Gallery, Chicago, IL, Solo Show, “Bountiful: Images on Gratitude and Attitude in Challenging Times”
2011, The House Beautiful Pink Show, Chicago, IL, Finalist
2010, The University Club of Chicago, March Members Show
2007, Hinsdale Center for the Arts, Enchanted Show
Work in private collections in the United States, Ireland, France, England, Scotland, Dubai and the Czech Republic