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Kristen Cliffel

May 2023

Kristen Cliffel’s Domestic Endeavors; Feats and Service

Kristen Cliffel’s art explores the social constructs and myths of domesticity. With expected “happily ever afters” and defined ideas of “success,” Cliffel pulls the wig off the mannequin to investigate home, connection, safety, hope, and fear through her sculptures and creations. As a spouse and parent, Cliffel finds herself wedged into roles that both trouble and delight. Cliffel’s work explores domestic mythologies and their conundrums by developing visual narratives that may reveal the complex layers that are behind simple yet integral relationships. By using humor and beauty, Cliffel can delve deeper into the heart of the intimate bonds that surround the domestic stage.

Domestic Endeavors; Feats and Service showcases Kristen Cliffel’s Domestic Operations Merit Badges. Made from mixed media including plywood, ceramic, paint, and gold leaf, the intricate merit badges toy with both the myth and reality of domesticity, and the humor and sacrifice that comes with parenting, partnering, and adulting. 

“These pieces are a sort of bragging hall of fame/shame to the trials and tribulations throughout my history of being a wife and mother...things I have had quite a bit of experience with, good and bad. Traditional scout badges require at least six completed tasks to earn a badge. I was never allowed to be a scout but always very jealous of the juicy badges that were worn by my peers. They seemed to be outward physical acknowledgments of success in certain specific areas of cultural prowess... If only we were given these controlled rubrics to fulfill in parenting, partnering, and adulting.” 

- Kristen Cliffel

About the artist Kristen Cliffel:

Kristen Cliffel is a ceramic sculptor living and working in Cleveland, Ohio. Her studio practice is centered around themes of domesticity and relationships that connect people over time. Cliffel graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1990 with a BFA in Ceramics. Kristen Cliffel has completed Residencies at The Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, and the Kohler Company in Wisconsin. In 2016, Cliffel was awarded the prestigious Cleveland Arts Prize for mid-career artist in visual arts.

Burton D. Morgan Gallery (front half):  Exhibition runs Aug. 2 - Sep 9. 2023.

Sponsored by Thomas and Anita Gedelian.

Kristen Cliffel
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