I am the daughter of Patricia Canfield (Seneca/Alleghany) and Harold Clark of Great Valley. I was born in Great Valley, NY, and was raised primarily on the Seneca Alleghany Reservation in Salamanca, New York. I am of the deer clan.
I truly have been creating art for as long as I can remember. If you ask my mother, she will tell you, my very first medium came before I could even walk. My mother is my greatest teacher and inspiration. She was always drawing, painting, sewing, and beading. I was always watching and encouraged to try it myself.
The inspiration for my art comes from nature and the art of the Iroquois. As a child I spend endless days roaming the woods of the Allegany Foothills and playing the waters of the Ohhio (Alleghany River) and its tributaries. I always watched the sun light come through the trees and hit the water looking at the wonderful colors and shapes created by the shadows and light. At an early age I was mesmerized by the textures and patterns that Mother Nature created. I would watch and study wild animals, for as long as they would allow me. All these experiences have influenced my paintings, drawings, and sculptures.
I was also taught to do beadwork and make corn husk dolls at a very young age and continue to make pieces today. I have always found the raised beadwork and corn husk dolls of the Iroquois unique and beautiful. I am always learning about my ancestors and culture and using what I learned in my art.
Pottery came to me in my later years. I started creating pottery about 15 years ago. The first time I felt the clay in my hands I knew this was going to be a lifelong love. It reminded me of having the mud between my toes exploring and fishing, on the edge of the river. I then began to study and used the traditional techniques and styles of the Iroquois in my art. I love the unique shapes created by the Iroquois and found that as most pottery, the forms were created to cook food by hanging them over the fire, thus the form of the neck and collar of the vessel. They were also decorated out of the need to tell stories, identify the owner or just as a form of beauty.
What I find the most intriguing about pottery and art is that the artist leaves their fingerprints (literally in clay, it is the nature of the medium) or themselves in every piece that they make. So, when you look at art or artifacts, you can see a part of that person who lived centuries ago and they are still part of “today”, the day you looked and thought about it and them.