“I can easily spend 100 hours or more on a painting just because I think it will help me communicate my message or make someone chuckle,” said artist Klaire A. Lockheart.
Most of Lockheart’s work “addresses gender identity within contemporary American culture” and history with oil on canvas and fiber art, and she likes to sprinkle in some humor, too.
On March 10, Miss Art World Kathrine J. Cooksey bestowed a crown and the title of Miss Art World South Dakota upon Lockheart.
At her coronation, Lockheart wore her gold gown, printed with dinosaurs portrayed as artists, for the first time.
“Women artists are frequently overlooked, but it makes me incredibly happy to work with another creative contemporary artist who strives to make the art world more inclusive,” said Lockheart.
“I appreciate it when people tell me stories about what my art reminds me of or how they relate to it.” -Klaire A. Lockheart
She is also the artist in residence for the Vermillion Area Arts Council and an adjunct instructor at Morningside College in Sioux City.
Lockheart tells us about her work, her inspirations, and why she loves South Dakota.
PEOPLE MIGHT KNOW ME FROM… my life-sized oil paintings of women who look like a cross between Betty Crocker and Bettie Page from my Feminine Attempts series. These six- to seven-foot-tall canvases show powerful women wearing unbelievable footwear in domestic spaces. I have exhibited these paintings in Sioux Falls, Brookings, Vermillion, and many other galleries in the Midwest.
“I am compelled to create artwork that addresses gender identity within contemporary American culture” -Klaire A. Lockheart
I ENTERED MISS ART WORLD BECAUSE… I respect Miss Art World Cooksey. She’s a conceptual artist from the Los Angeles area who specializes in performance art. Her artwork is extremely inspiring because it uplifts women, and I strive to empower others through my art, too.
THE BEST PART OF MY JOB IS… I get to communicate and connect with others through my art. Painting is a physical process, and it is incredibly rewarding to create a physical work of art that others can enjoy. I begin each painting by sketching and taking photographs to plot out my composition. Then, I build a custom stretcher and gesso the canvas. I draw on the canvas first to assure that my composition will be successful, and then I spend weeks and months applying layers and layers of paint. Each step is challenging, but it’s worth the effort to make a painting that someone else can connect with and appreciate.
MY FAVORITE PROJECT RIGHT NOW IS… my series of Brodalisque paintings, which are portraits of lounging “bros” in man caves. The “Brodalisque” is a bro who reenacts the passivity of odalisques from 19th century Orientalist art. My paintings challenge the typical objectifying representations of women from art history, but they’re also so absurd that they make me laugh.
MY ART STYLE IS INSPIRED BY… historic, academic-style painting. Women were traditionally prohibited from learning how to become artists in Europe and the United States, and I want to correct that error. I purposefully paint in a style that looks like my art belongs in a museum because art institutions do not have enough women artists in their collections. I am also inspired by artists such as Artemisia Gentileschi, Mary Cassatt, and Frida Kahlo because they overcame many obstacles to become artists, and their paintings are still impactful.
Lockheart’s most recent works are on display until May 28 in the Washington Pavilion: 75% Packard 25% Lockheart exhibition
THE DRESS FOR MISS ART WORLD WAS INSPIRED BY… the historic relationship between artists and models. I designed the printed pattern for the dress, which is made up of dinosaur toys acting like they are artists and models. I use dinosaurs as an analogy in my art because it feels like women have been fighting for equal rights since the dawn of time.
MY FAVORITE WAY TO SPEND MY LEISURE TIME IS… to plot unusual and memorable events for my friends, when we’re not experiencing a pandemic.
MY BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT SO FAR WAS… after I earned my [master of fine arts] in painting a few years ago, I have had so many opportunities to display my artwork in solo and group exhibitions that it’s difficult to select the biggest accomplishment. I am also thankful for the awards I’ve received, especially the title of Miss Art World South Dakota.
SOMEONE LOCAL WHO I ADMIRE IS… my husband, Aaron Packard. He’s an amazing photographer, and he is phenomenally creative and supportive.
MY GO-TO ART MEDIUM IS… oil on canvas. I love using oil paint because I can build many layers to create representational forms and shadows that are easy to identify. I also engage with the history of Western art, and so I have to paint with oil to make my art fit within the larger context of the art world. Furthermore, I think it would be delightful if museums started hanging my paintings in their historic galleries just to see if the patrons would notice anything funny.
MY FAVORITE PLACE TO GO FOR INSPIRATION IS… a stack of books when I am unable to travel and view artwork in person.
ONE THING I LOVE ABOUT SOUTH DAKOTA IS… the community of artists and the people who love the arts. There are so many hardworking and creative people in South Dakota, and I have made many great friends in this state. I enjoy that when I scheme unusual art events, I know many awesome people that will participate and contribute to help assure that my shenanigans are successful.