Corwin Clairmont's interest in art is intimately tied to his personal history of growing up in the Salish and Kootenai cultures. When he was 15 years old, he designed a tribal seal that won a reservation-wide competition. To this day, his logo remains the official seal of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Nation. When he attended college in Montana and California, Clairmont met and was influenced by artists like Rudy Autio, John Baldessari and Joseph Bueys. Afterwards, he established his career within the west coast avant-garde, taught at Otis Art Institute, co-directed PAC, a contemporary art gallery, and received fellowships from the Ford Foundation and the NEA.
Today, Clairmont is among an important group of Native American artists who use elements of their cultural background in combination with European artistic traditions to make political statements. Clairmont often uses elements of printmaking, photography and collage to create his artwork. These complex images give sharp attention to corporate and governmental injustices imposed on the Native American community and environment.
Though the messages in his work are strong, their delivery can be subtle, relying on ironic observations rather than overt accusations. One of the characteristics of Clairmont's works is that the viewer must approach the work and examine the relationships of many visual and textual references in order to understand its full social and political commentary.
The University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
California State University, Los Angeles, CA