Rose Clancy is a sculptor, site-specific installation artist, and gardener currently working with the reclamation of neglected spaces.
When driving up to her home studio, it was easy to assume that like many home-based studios, her workspace would be tucked in a back room, basement, or garage. But then she opened her front door, and we discovered studio space in her living room, and her kitchen, and two upstairs bedrooms. After becoming an empty nester, she converted the majority of her home into art space. And it's just as awesome as you might imagine.
Where are you from?
Pittsburgh, originally from Overbook
What neighborhood do you live in now?
Why do you choose to make art in Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh is home. I didn’t really choose it, someone else made that choice, but I’ve always been here. And it’s comfortable.
What is your favorite part of being an artist in Pittsburgh?
I don’t have a favorite part of being an artist. Because it’s basically what I am. It’s breathing. It’s what my life is. I enjoy every part of it. I enjoy the process of making, working with people in the community, exposing people to the idea of process. I like the end results. I like how it makes my imagination go further so I can keep experimenting with work.
What would you love to see more of in the Pittsburgh art scene?
I think we’re at a really strange time right now with the NEA and the cuts in funding. I’ve been supported by institutions at many different levels but I think the cuts in funding will trickle down so that those organizations have to cut what they do in terms of supporting artists.
I’ve also been in situations where people expect you to work for free for the exposure. I have always had an issue with that. We’re providing a service to people. If someone comes to see an exhibition I’ve put together, telling me you love it is nice to hear but if it’s not supporting me financially, I can’t keep doing it. I’d like to see more conversations about the reality of where we are as far as being paid as artists. And how we can go about changing perception because the public perception seems to be that art should be free but that’s not the reality for the people making the art, especially if institutional support goes away. So many artists are self-funding their work already.
What is your favorite music to jam to in the studio?
I like listening to the neighborhood. The neighbor next door has wind chimes that are tuned to some famous cathedral in Italy so I hear those. The neighbor over here also has wind chimes, and children, and dogs. Just the sounds of the neighborhood- birds and things like that.
What other things do you do when you are not making art?
I read. I like to read everything but I really enjoy reading about people’s lives. I also enjoy marine biology, or really anything to do with biology and science.
I like to go for walks where I can appreciate nature around me. I like to spend time walking the trails.
What would you tell artists who are just starting out?
To follow their inner voice. To be aware of the inner voice.
I would tell them to volunteer at different organizations so they can get a sense of what the organizations are about, especially if they are going to approach those organizations in the future with their work.
I’d tell them to create their own opportunities. The things I’ve been most satisfied with have been where I created my own opportunity to make things happen.
For example, I sprouted some potatoes in my kitchen as a pseudo science experiment. I exposed them to different light conditions, heat conditions, and water conditions. And I photographed them throughout the whole process. At the end of the winter when it was time for them to either be planted or tossed onto the compost pile, I just happened to run into Michael Olijnyk of The Mattress Factory and he asked me what I was doing. I said, “I’ve been playing around with these potatoes, do you know of anywhere I can plant them?” And he said, “Oh yeah, we have this lot” and that’s how the Garden Lab started.
That relationship wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t volunteered with The Mattress Factory and volunteered without any intention of an outcome or ulterior motive.
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