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Dawn Clements, Creator of Detailed Panoramas, Dies at 60

Category: Art & Culture,Arts

She made such works, she said, not simply by copying a single still image from a movie, but by watching the whole film and compiling a selection of interior shots from different angles. It was an interest, she said, that began with a focus on movies’ stars but morphed into something else.

“For years I drew the figures, lots and lots of drawings of Joan Crawford and Lana Turner, all those women and their crises,” she told The L Magazine in 2012, “but at a certain moment I started to realize that almost everything in melodrama is happening indoors. They’re these crazy places that are often beautiful homes, well appointed, everybody’s miserable, nobody can leave, the door is wide open but they can’t get out. So I thought, what is it about always being inside? I’ve got to address that.”

Dawn Marie Clements was born on April 14, 1958, in Woburn Mass., to Bruce and Carlene (Johnson) Clements. She grew up in Chelmsford, Mass., and received a bachelor’s degree at Brown University in 1986. In a 2014 talk at the Vermont Studio Center, she recalled studying movies at Brown without the benefit of DVDs or even videotapes.

“They were projected from a chattering film projector, and we got to see them twice, and that was all,” she said. “So I got used to writing and drawing images and text just like a maniac in the dark.”

She went on to earn a master of fine arts degree at the University at Albany in 1989. By 1993 she was represented in the Venice Biennale. Later in the 1990s she was in group exhibitions at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., the University Art Museum in Albany and numerous other places. Since the turn of the century, her work has been seen in scores of group shows, including at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, Me., as well as in China, Belgium, England and elsewhere.


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