B.A. DISTINCTION Clare Link-Oberstar

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Clare Link Oberstar received a B.A. with Distinction from the School of Art and Art History upon her graduation in 2021. The artist worked for one academic year on a special project guided by the faculty. The installation in the Schwayder Art Building lobby represented the culmination of her research and art-making in this course.

The installation consisted of three separate pieces – Peripheral Permanence of Everyday Life (2021), a hanging work of fishing line, garment, vinyl, epoxy resin, and acrylic tubing with screen print. Grid (2021) was a wall-based work of plaster panels and paint, meant to resemble birth control pill packaging, while the untitled interactive sculpture (2021) was formed of cast silicon tampon applicators. Read on to learn more about her work and the processes and methods she used in the creation of the installation. 

Project Statement

My work draws on my growing awareness and research about how my own experiences and belief in gender equality, racial justice, and human rights have broader impacts. I call out issues of injustice and attempt to bring to the forefront of people’s minds how they might be playing a role in these issues and how they can affect change on a personal level. I use some of my own experiences within the intersections of race and gender and social justice as a starting point, hoping that the work will take those further by engaging my audience with their own experiences, resulting in an opening for greater dialogues. The ultimate goal of this work is to seek common solutions as a society.

Working from a feminist consciousness, I’ve been engaging with my personal stake in these issues. It has sparked my interest in how employing specific materials like cast multiples, symbolic found objects, and printmaking processes can lead to works of art that conceptually ask these questions of the viewer.

With this project, I take issues of gender and racial discrimination in legislation and resulting politics and try to convey how intimately they can impact folks’ bodies.

– Clare Link-Oberstar

My distinction project has been an exploration of the body and how it functions as a central point for how and why we experience issues of social injustice. The body becomes a vessel for carrying these resulting heavy experiences and a starting point for creating powerful solutions. With this project, I take issues of gender and racial discrimination in legislation and resulting politics and try to convey how intimately they can impact folks’ bodies. Oftentimes these issues are talked about at the surface level in abstracted ways, such that they become detached from lived experiences. This body of work specifically attempts to address the experiences of those who menstruate and use garments to examine the impacts of legislation on femme bodies. Specifically, it centers on the various ways society attempts to control femme bodies and those who menstruate. This control can come in many forms be it through financial ability, psychological control, and/or physical control via social expectations.

The garments act as surrogates for physical bodies and represent how society engages issues of bodily control through legislation. This legislative language exists in the world around us, but the ease with which we choose to disregard or ignore it causes its presence to begin to fade from our consciousness. Ultimately this denial of rights becomes written on us and associated with aspects of our identity. As a result of these experiences, we as people are then reduced to an empty shell representative of the injustice. The menstrual products are meant to be representative of the burden and the simultaneous presence of these objects in the lives of menstruators.

I want to create work that utilizes or stems from found objects but transforms them such that they are recognizable but become approachable enough for people to want to interact with them. I hope to be able to break down the barrier to these products and subject matter through an invitation to interact with them.

Click to enlarge photographs