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Dawn Clements (1958–2018)

Dawn Clements, who imagined intimate, intricate interiors in both sprawling and compact drawings, has died at age sixty from cancer. Clements mainly worked on paper in sumi ink, ballpoint pen, and watercolor to realize her subjects, which included rooms drawn from stills from soap operas and melodrama films and inspired by her own domestic environment. Her drawings played with perspective and often spilled across multiple pieces of paper in distorted panoramas that explored memory, space, and home. 

Born in 1958 in Woburn, Massachusetts, Clements received her undergraduate degree from Brown University and, in 1989, her MFA from the State University of New York in Albany. She was an assistant professor at the Rhode Island School of Design. Clements spoke with Eve Aschheim about her influences for the Brooklyn Rail in 2007: “I’m not interested in making a whole bunch of separate moments, a photographic snapshot collage. Instead, I wanted the passage to feel like it existed in a bigger space of time. . . . Some works of art are slow; they walk instead of run. I think a lot of my work is slow.”

Clements was based in Brooklyn and represented by Pierogi Gallery. In addition to her numerous gallery exhibitions, her work was included in the 2010 Whitney Biennial and is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Tang Museum, and the Saatchi Collection, among other institutions. “In film, time is often condensed to fit into a two-hour format,” Clements told Aschheim. “A day might last a few minutes. In soap operas it’s exactly the opposite. A day might last an entire week because there are so many stories to tell. It goes on and on for years. I love that kind of time also.”