Under Water

Under Water
Kristen Cliffel
Born 1967
Acquisition Number: 2012.3
Medium:
Size: 27" x 18" x 17"
Date: 2010

Kristen Cliffel, wife, mother and artist. A third generation feminist, Cliffel has explored domestic themes in her work and she focuses particularly on roles that have been traditionally assigned to wives and mothers. Her work is an ongoing commentary of these roles. Her pieces can be functional or dysfunctional. For instance the symbolism in “Under Water”; is a reaction to the housing crisis in Cleveland during the 90s for Cliffel. Kristen tells us “unfortunately, it hit very close to home…our home in fact. We were facing several health crises in 2009 and ended up struggling with our mortgage. We tried to re-finance and found our home gravely ‘underwater’. I am however, the “Mommy” and leader of the family. I felt myself almost comically bright and buoyant to counteract the gravity of the situation we were faced with…I had been hit by a truck while walking that year and felt lucky to be alive yet challenged by many banal but critical details in life. Absurdity comes to the rescue! Giraffes have never been observed swimming and I thought it a fitting rescue toy to place in the swirling baby pool of life if you will… The home on the bottom is blue and heavy, yet well cared for and obviously loved. Juxtaposing not only color buy images helps me to balance the good and the bad, the sweet and the salty, the joy and the heartache in this piece. I love the attention to detail and focus on minute details of the home while the inflatable toy giraffe swirls carelessly around the top. Ready to float away at any minute.” Cliffel’s work is personal but has resonated strongly in Cleveland, a city that has been particularly hard hit by the recent housing crises.