Monday, April 2, 2012

Now, the Mendel; Next, MASS MoCA: Q&A with Clint Neufeld at

Over the past five years, the ceramic engine sculptures of Saskatchewan artist Clint Neufeld have won increasing recognition in the Canadian art world.

In addition to being featured in MASS MoCA’s upcoming “Oh, Canada” show this spring, Neufeld has had solo exhibitions at public art galleries across the country and was first runner-up for the 2011 Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics.

Last week, while he was installing a solo show opening at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon, Neufeld talked with me on the phone about his military start, farm heritage and more.

Here's an excerpt from the condensed interview published on

LS: Because your engine pieces are often positioned on chairs and couches, I end up feeling like they’re portraits of some kind—that they stand in for figures. How do you respond to that interpretation?

CN: I can respond a few ways.

One way I’d respond is that, you know, I’ve never really liked to be too specific about what my intentions are or what I want people to get out of my art. I think that’s sort of the beauty of art objects, is that they’re really open to all kinds of interpretations.

Part of the reason I went with the furniture was I’ve never really liked the pedestal. It’s never been my favourite display mechanism. And I had these fancy, ornate objects; I thought, What works for displaying these?

I think that the furniture aesthetic or end-table sort of thing that I mashed with them comes from my grandmother, who was an immigrant from England after the war. Being a sort of proper British lady, she had her shelves of trinkets displayed very nicely on doilies or on fancy tables and these kind of things. And for me, that kind of furniture seemed to be a good fit for the objects that I was dealing with.

There’s another thing I like about using the furniture: the engines that I work with tend to be older—they’re mechanical and somewhat obsolete in today’s automotive industry. So I like this idea that they’re sort of lounging or relaxing. And I think you’re right, it certainly lends itself to some kind of personal stand-in. The idea of a portrait is a nice way of looking at it.

To read more, head to

(Image of Clint Neufeld at his Mendel show by Troy Mamer via

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