Clint Imboden, Telephone.Clint.Imboden, mixed media, stainless cafeteria tray with found objects and colored water, 12" x 15" x 2"

American, b. 1953, playing from Oakland, CA, USA

I grew up in a house full of stuff; although neither of my parents were artists, they were both collectors. My father had his tightly defined area of interest—pre-Prohibition brewery advertising from St. Louis, Missouri—and very rarely strayed beyond it. His narrow area of focus reflected an attitude honed by his day job as a commercial loan officer for a large St. Louis bank. My father –-who grew up in St. Louis, and never really ventured outside of Missouri—would judge pieces that he was considering acquiring the same way he reviewed loan applications; looking only for quality, without emotional influences. On the other hand, my mother had much more eclectic interests. She was a voracious but impulsive collector, to the point of being obsessive. As an only child from a wealthy family, she was always able to indulge her whims; the result was scattered, seemingly disjointed collections of everything from antique plastic animal toys to southwestern kitsch.

Over the years I have nurtured two diverse careers, working as a mental health professional while making art. How I see as an artist has been shaped both by my parents and by my experiences in the field of psychology. Like my mother, I can be drawn to new objects, without a clear idea of why I am attracted to them or how they will fit in to the larger scheme of my work. Like my father, I need at times to step back for a moment and try to balance the emotional attraction with the larger picture.

As an artist, I’m self-taught. I’ve cobbled together skills from classes I’ve taken over the years: photography courses at the Kansas City Art Institute; a furniture design class at the University of Texas in Arlington; off-set printing at the Kala Institute in Berkeley; and machine shop at the Crucible in Oakland. I taught myself how to weld, how to make urethane rubber molds and cast polyester resin. My wood and metal working skills come from spending most of my high school years in the industrial arts building instead of other classes. My influences are also as diverse, from Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Jaume Plensa to Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp.

A central element from my psychology background has become an intricate part of my art: my belief that viewing art is equivalent to therapy. The individual is as much an equal partner in the art-viewing process as they are in the therapeutic one. Through the use of text, Braille, or Morse code I challenge the viewer to commit the time and energy it takes to read or decipher elements in my art to discover it’s full meaning. As in therapy the individual has to meet me half way.

Thoughts on the Telephone process

It was hard; it was more challenging than I thought it was going to be. Trying to be true to the image I got and working within the limitations of found objects my medium of choice took some time to work through, at the end I hope what I give back to the project is what was hoped for.

Painting by Denise Araripe
Rio de Janeiro