Interview: Alec Coiro
All Images Courtesy of Claire Christerson
The last time we spoke to Claire Christerson we were lucky to catch her as she was in the midst of the uproarious planning, coordinating, and celebrating surrounding her massively collaborative Wizard of Oz film.
Summer finds her in a more floral, tranquil mood. Tranquil but playful, it should be noted. In Between Earth and Water (Daffodils) she has paired highly mannered illustrations of flowers with aphoristic poems. For me the precedent for such a collection would be the poem-illustration pairings of Edward Lear (although it turns out the artist leans more partial to Beardsley and Gorey — see below). The anthropomorphized flowers attract with their detail, fancy, and dusting of menace.
Fractures in my Structure takes on a more overly zine-like approach. The notebook paper and the textual declarations of moods suggest a personal diaristic approach. So too does the confessional aura of privacy that defines the book’s aura. The illustrations of human-like figures seem to depict an emotion more than a person. It’s an ideal pairing for Earth and Water (Daffodils), both display the imaginative nature of Christerson (which was also fully on display in the Wizard of Oz movie) but from contrasting sides of her psyche.
Read on for the interview, and if you’re intrigued consider attending the special brunch Christerson is hosting on June 15.
Were these books created concurrently? Do you think they tap into different aspects of your personality/psyche?
They sort of just happened, I didn’t even begin making the drawings in Ireland with a book in mind. It didn’t happen till I finished traveling for the winter that I decided I’d like to make a book. Once “Between Earth and Water (Daffodils)” was made, I decided I wanted to make “Fractures in My Structures.” I wanted to finally give some insight into how I work by creating books that emanate my journaling practice that is so private; so it felt fitting to make books that people could experience on their own and hopefully feel the preciousness that I feel from holding a journal.
“Between Earth and Water (Daffodils)” reminded me a lot of Edward Lear’s drawings and poems. Are you fan of his?
I actually did not know of him until this question, but I can say that I am a huge Aubrey Beardsley fan, as well as Ed Gorey.
What do you consider your structures to be?
My brain, my gut, my heart, my body.
It felt fitting to make books that people could experience on their own and hopefully feel the preciousness that I feel from holding a journal
What was Hope Christerson’s involvement as editor?
Hope played a big hand in helping to format the books, be someone to help critique and just add a great touch to organization.
Both books pair images and texts in a way that seems essential to the overall meaning put forth. Is there a word/image hierarchy for you? Do you create the words to match the image or vice versa?
The images generally come first. For both of these books, I definitely wrote after I made all the images. Though often, I write down little things that I think about, and they come in handy when I am figuring out text.