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Vibrating Boundaries (work of art)

Artwork Info

Created
2023
Artist
Martha Clippinger (born 1983)
Dimensions
192 × 322 inches (488 × 818 centimeters)
Medium
paint, wood

Credit

Courtesy of the artist

Culture
American North Carolina

Key Ideas

  • This is a large-scale installation made from painted wood panels. It uses the optical illusion of simultaneous contrast
  • Martha Clippinger is a contemporary artist who lives and works in Durham, North Carolina. 
  • Clippinger is known for creating colorful, abstract objects that combine painting and sculpture. Her work explores the importance of community. 
  • This installation was inspired by other works of art in the NCMA collection. These include ceremonial costumes from Nigeria, 20th-century abstract paintings, and handmade quilt designs.
  • The title of this work comes from a chapter in a book by artist Josef Albers
  • Clippinger’s art is influenced by Albers’s ideas about color and the ways colors interact with each other.

Learn More

Martha Clippinger is Durham-based artist who creates colorful, abstract works that combine painting and sculpture. She often explores themes of a shared visual language and the importance of community in her work. These themes are highlighted by the large scale of this installation and its overlapping layers of color.

The vibrant colors and geometric patterns in this installation were inspired by artworks in the NCMA collection. These include traditional egúngún masquerade costumes from Nigeria that feature overlapping layers of fabric. Other works at the NCMA that influenced the artist’s design choices include 20th-century abstract paintings and handmade quilts from the American South.

The title of this work comes from a chapter in a book by artist Josef Albers. His 1963 book, Interaction of Color, explores color theory, perception, and experimentation. To create this installation, Clippinger drew from Albers’s ideas about color and the ways that colors interact with each other. This work is an example of an optical illusion known as simultaneous contrast. It works like this: when two complementary colors of similar brightness are placed side by side, one of the colors appears to be darker or lighter than the one beside it.

I’m interested in how formal relationships of color, shape, texture, and scale can both reflect and inform emotional states. As an abstract artist who works with geometric shapes and patterns, I’m drawn to motifs that span cultures, and I think about how such symbols can produce a universal or shared visual language.

Martha Clippinger

Additional Resources

Resources for Teachers

  • Read an article about the optical illusion known as simultaneous contrast.
  • Watch a video that highlights connections between the work of Martha Clippinger and the work of artist Josef Albers.
  • Read an article about Albers’s ideas about the ways in which colors interact with one another. 

 

Resources for Students

Images

  • A photo of a large wall covered in brightly colored rectangular panels

    Vibrating Boundaries