PANAMA CITY — Shreds of paper litter the floor of a cozy studio behind a house off Bonita Avenue in the The Cove — the leftovers of an art project, soon to be gathered and recycled into a textured page for a future piece of art.
Charlie, the four-legged mascot, begs for petting while the artist perches on a chair and sips organic hot cocoa, searching for words to describe her work — cutout paper art showing people becoming plants (or vice versa?) and interacting with the natural world.
“I was at a crossroads of what to make my art about,” Heather Clements said, noting she likes to experiment with different materials and techniques. “The issue most important to me, obviously, is the biggest issue in the world: taking care of the environment.”
At first, her imagery focused on the negative impact humans have on the planet’s ecology. She showed how we use and misuse “pieces of our home” in ways that damage that home. She says the concept of “Man vs. Nature” makes no sense to her because we are just as much a part of Nature as anything else.
“Our culture is sociopathic in that way, in that it doesn’t register that the plants and animals we live with have a life of their own, and we’re not any better than that life,” she said. “I wanted to portray what could be right rather than the negative. I began to show bits of Nature coming out of people, trying to represent a symbiotic relationship.”
Clements will open a solo exhibit of her work Sunday at the Bay County Public Library in Panama City. The show will feature several of her cut paper works, one large drawing, and many never-before-seen pieces. The opening is also the launch of her newly published book of cut paper art, appropriately titled “Cut Paper.” A limited number of copies will be available for sale during the event.
Clements will kick off the event with an artist lecture starting at 2 p.m., speaking about the concepts and inspirations behind her work. Light food and refreshments will be available. Clements will also donate 20 percent of proceeds from exhibit art sales to the library.
A solo show is something all artists crave, Clements said. While there’s great joy in group shows, where they can see how their work fits with other art, there’s also a “sense of completion” to having a solo show.
“After so many hours alone in the studio, working tirelessly on every inch of every piece of art, then there they all are, your babies, taking over an entire space for all the world to see,” she says. “You can see areas of growth, experimentation, and perhaps mastery of a particular technique. With all the works hung together, you get a much better sense of the artist as a whole. As the artist, you get a better sense of your own patterns, strengths, and weaknesses.”
Her most recent experiment involves recycling the scraps from her art, brewing up batches of recycled paper pulp and making sheets of textured paper. Each sheet takes three or more days to dry, and the paper is very delicate, which means the cutting is more difficult.
“I love the texture,” she says, “and it’s more eco-friendly, which is what I’m about.”
Want to go?
- What: ‘Cut it Out: The Paper Cut Art of Heather Clements’
- Where: Bay County Public Library, 898 W. 11th St., Panama City
- When: Opening reception and book release 2-4 p.m. Sunday, March 3; exhibit in place through April 3
- Details: HeatherClementsArt.com