Live jazz music filled the entrance while visitors walked in and out of Cal State Fullerton’s Duff Gallery Saturday evening for the opening reception of Clare Shadduck’s master of fine arts thesis exhibition.
Shadduck, who is pursuing a masters of fine arts degree in drawing and painting at CSUF, spent the last year working on the exhibition, which showcased a world of improvisation through abstract expressionism.
“It’s about being in the moment and responding to the moment … being open to the experience of anything happening is what the work centers around,” Shadduck said.
On one wall lay five small, black-and-white pieces, while one large installation hung on each of the other walls. All pieces were created with mixed materials such as graphite, charcoal, soft pastels, oil pastels and gouache paint on heavy-duty watercolor paper.
“A lot of times the thing that comes to mind in her paintings is the idea that things are changing in front of your eyes, like things get blurry, or it feels like a shape is about to turn into another shape. There’s a lot of movement in her work,” said Joe Biel, professor of studio art at CSUF.
With a brother and husband who both play jazz music, Shadduck uses art as a way to explore nuances in jazz.
“Her art practice reflects the same things that jazz musicians do. They’re all about improvisation and having music that builds on top of itself and so its complexity becomes greater as you go through a song,” said Candice Chovanec, a masters of fine arts drawing and painting student. “I think it’s the same way with how she used her art. It’s a process of building.”
Born in Los Angeles, Shadduck spent most of her life in Camarillo, California. She attended Moorpark College with plans to obtain a nursing degree, but after taking a ceramics class, she switched to art.
“I had a really amazing professor, Gerry Zucca, who basically changed my life because he pushed me to see that I could be an artist, and he brought that out of me,” Shadduck said.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in art from UCLA in 2008, Shadduck spent the next four years working on her own until she enrolled at CSUF in fall 2012 for its graduate program.
“I just felt that I needed another forum to be part of the conversation in the academic setting, so I wanted to come back to school to get my MFA so I could push what I was doing further,” Shadduck said.
In addition to being a student, Shadduck teaches Art 107A and 107B, which are beginning drawing and painting classes at CSUF. After graduation, Shadduck hopes to continue teaching art as a full-time professor either at a university or a community college.
“I come from a family of teachers. Both of my parents are teachers, so I think in some ways it’s been bred into (me) to be a teacher,” Shadduck said. “I’ve always been drawn more to the collegiate level because it offers a venue to have a higher level of conversation.”
Shadduck’s exhibition will be open for viewing in the Duff Gallery through Nov. 20. The gallery’s hours are from 4 to 6 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.