Artist Spotlight: Claire Bowman

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Rose Rucoba
Staff Writer

Claire Bowman, a junior fine arts major, recently sat down with Flyer News and revealed the secrets behind her art, what it means to be a feminist artist and the influences behind her work.

Bowman’s inspiration started early, as both her parents, Steve Bowman and Diane Bowman, are artists themselves. Before the couple graduated in 1983 from the University of Dayton, Diane was a graphic design major and Steve was a fine arts major with a concentration in painting.

Growing up in a family of artists, Bowman said, was and continues to be her main source of inspiration.

“It’s kind of hard to not be influenced by art when I’m growing up with it,” Bowman said.

Her first experiences with creating her own artwork began in art class in high school where she experimented with acrylics, oil, charcoal and graphite, among other mediums.But, she really began to find herself as an artist during her senior year of high school when she took AP Art.

“I got to choose my subject matter and my path,” Bowman recalled. “And just as long as it had a unified theme, I could do whatever…I had some good stuff my senior year.”

Since then, Bowman has evolved both as a person and as an artist, her life and her work affecting each other

When asked what she thinks her personality as an artist, Bowman voiced how her style can fluctuate between harsh and gentle, and how important the element of intelligence is in her work.

“I tend to be bolder,” Bowman said. “I like being rude sometimes in my art. I use swear words a lot in my art. But then other times I like to be elegant and sophisticated. Overall, I would say one of the biggest overlying themes in my work is intelligence just because I like to really think about what I’m trying to say.”

The two photographs are part of Bowman’s senior thesis project and have to do with corsets. In the photos, Lauren Murray, junior dietetics major at UD and Diane Bowman are pictured being confined in some manner by corsets.Bowman described how the use of corsets in her artwork is meant to communicate the social confinement of women today

“They represent…how I want to approach making feminist issues into a visual format,” Claire said. “Those two [pictured here] specifically are about how corsets have previously been associated with confining and restricting the female body—synching it, hurting it.

And even though we don’t have corsets today, a lot of those same ideas are still around—they’re just all mental.

I wanted to communicate the idea of a mental corset, of a woman being held back by societal expectations that can cause real physical harm on her psyche or her interactions with her body.”

The other two pieces in her senior project, both drawings, come from a series of hers called “Civil War.” 

These pieces, Bowman explained, have to do with the battle women fight against their own bodies.

“It’s in Italio print using book pages and the quotes from the book are about war and just relating the idea of body image to a potential battle between what you see and what you think you should be seeing,” Bowman said.

“I then took that a little further with one more print called “The Quickest Way to End a War is to Lose It.” That title is based off a quote from George Orwell’s essay, Shooting an Elephant.” It’s a self-portrait in which I am actually ripping away flesh. Just the idea that you want to tear away a piece of you that is so intrinsic to who you are…is very strange when I thought about it from a more outside perspective,” Bowman said.

Bowman said that for her next project she plans on creating a series in which she copies her “Civil War” drawings onto wood blocks in the form of relief prints.

She explained that women’s struggle with their own bodies is a concept that she is stuck on at the moment.

“That whole idea of connecting the mind and the body and that violence of wanting to tear away at yourself—that’s kind of where I’m at right now,” Claire said.

You can see more of Claire’s art on her Instagram, @clairebowmanstudio.

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