Clare E. Rojas
1976 (age 40–41)
Clare Rojas (born 1976) is an internationally shown artist, currently based in San Francisco and is considered to be part of the Mission School. She is “known for creating powerful folk-art-inspired tableaus that tackle traditional gender roles.” She works in a variety of media, including painting, installations, video, street art, and children’s books. She received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and previously attended the Rhode Island School of Design.
Rojas also plays guitar and banjo under the stage name Peggy Honeywell. As Peggy Honeywell, she wore a long wig and flouncy calico dresses, and sometimes, because she was shy, a paper bag over her head. She has released two albums: Faint Humms (2005) and Green Mountain (2006)
In her more recent work, Rojas has moved from figurative paintings into pure geometric abstraction.
Referencing West Coast modernism, Quaker art, Native American textiles, Byzantine mosaics, and Outsider art, Rojas tells stories through painting, installations, and video. Often her narratives concern relationships between the sexes and among humans and animals, in their struggle to find harmony and balance. Many works quietly celebrate the traditional strengths of women, depicting them like Russian nesting dolls in conventional roles without critical undertones or hints of sexual exploitation. Quilt-like patterns in vivid colors accentuate the folk art-inspired scenes present in some works, while simple geometric forms and stark interiors evoke Bauhaus design in others. Recently, Rojas has focused her attention on the abstract shapes formed by architecture and shadow that dominate interior spaces, producing colorful, precise, abstract compositions on stretched linen.
Unlike many of her contemporaries, Rojas explores the traditional and often subordinate roles of women without sexual exploitation or overt eroticism, making her works both poignant and enjoyable. Melding craft and fine art with unparalleled verve, Rojas produces witty work that is part Bauhaus, part Bonanza.
The May, 2001, installing “East Meets West”—three West Coast artists and their East Coast counterparts—at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia was a milestone for Rojas. It was her first museum show and it placed her in a context with an artist that to some extent she’d been modelling herself on.