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Connected Through the Human Experience - Part 3

Connected Through the Human Experience - Part 3


Curator Richard Fletcher describes Come Along With Me, on view in the OAC’s Riffe Gallery until April 15, 2017, as an exhibition thatexplores the communication between Ohio artists’ experiences, the artwork they create, and how that creative process can translate into lessons or guidelines for others. Come Along With Me engages these narratives to bring the viewers into an intimate and interactive conversation with art as experience.”

I’ve been fascinated with many of the artists and artworks featured in the exhibition. I interviewed three artists to find out more. Read the first post with Dan Jian here and the second post with Charisse M. Harris here. In this third and final post, I asked Peter Clay about his compelling work and how his life experiences provide inspiration.

Peter Clay, Sandusky Swiss, Laser print on paper, edition of 20, 7 ¾" x 4 ¾"

“Peter Clay entertains the contradictions between contemporary media and historical storytelling in his exploration of queer identity and growing up in a Swiss Mennonite family,” said Fletcher. “Through his jarring juxtaposition of traditional craft forms and collaged image in Too Late Schmart, and the storytelling format of the zine Sandusky Swiss, the artist looks to the links between subconscious devotional practice, the consumption of historical narratives, and the imitation of iconography.”

Kim Webb - I am very interested in the last line of the statement Richard wrote, “the artist looks to the links between subconscious devotional practice, the consumption of historical narratives, and the imitation of iconography.” Can you break down these three categories and tell us why these are important investigations for you?

Peter Clay - It's very simple, regardless of culture, humans are creatures of habit, devotional beings if you will. We may call ourselves modern, contemporary even, but nothing in my mind separates us from any person in any culture devoted to any idea. In the later half of the 20th century the television was the alter to which we sacrificed our time, but the paradigm has shifted and now we're all sitting here lost in scrying mirrors. More than anything, these three categories are an invocation that provokes one to think about the relationship between devotion, narrative, and relativity truth. Are you what you eat? Do you vote with your money? Or will everything just work itself out? We all pick our stories, we select the vocabulary with which we will present them, and I think that's great fun.

Peter Clay, Too Late Schmart, 2016, Photo collage print on found fabric, inkjet print, string, 81" x 59"

K.W. - Can you elaborate on the humor within your work?


P.C. - Last year I was visiting my mentor’s family home in the Catskills and this very question came up. I didn't have a clever answer at the time so my mentor covered for me and recalled an incident in which her daughter had asked me why such interesting and funny things happen to me all the time. I told her “such things happen to nearly everyone almost constantly but clearly you're not paying attention.” I'm not really sure that answers your question, but I don't care.


The Queer dead end of a patriarchal line that traces itself into the Reformation, Peter Clay explores the intersections of media, art, and reality through the emergent paradigms of their generation. While technology and structural propaganda beg us to see ourselves as the epoch of all eras, this artist's work asks the viewer to question the realities we construct through subconscious devotional practice, the consumption of historical narratives, and the privilege of not having to think too deeply. These pieces reflect the artist's experience as a queer person, socialized as the first born male, in one of the founding Swiss Mennonite families of the original northwest territory.


The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery showcases the work of Ohio's artists and the collections of the state's museums and galleries. The Riffe Gallery is located in the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts, across from the Statehouse on High Street in Downtown Columbus. Like the Riffe Gallery on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.


The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Kim Webb, 2017-18 OAC Riffe Gallery Marketing and Exhibitions Fellow

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