Unconventional Route to Abstract Art Wheaton Native Breaks New Ground at Cantigny Show

Article excerpt

When Vanessa Clarke began high school at Wheaton North in 1989, she had no interest in art. This weekend she will be the first abstract artist included with 60 nationally acclaimed sculptors in the ninth annual Danada Sculpture and Art Sale at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.

"I didn't dislike art, but I had never really thought much about it," said Clarke, whose parents still live in Wheaton. "I was more focused on science, math and softball. Then during my junior year, I took an art class. I was very surprised to see how well I could draw. Whatever I drew ended up looking almost like a photograph."

Clarke graduated in January of 1993, a semester early, with an art career in mind. She began taking art classes at The Art Institute of Chicago while she looked at different colleges to find the one that best suited her interests.

"I looked at many different schools," Clarke said. "I had decided that I wanted to go into graphic design, so I chose to attend the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, ranked No. 3 in that area."

Clarke was studying graphic design when she took a sculpture class. That class gave her art a new spin, because she enjoyed it so much that she decided to concentrate on sculpture.

During her junior year, Clarke studied abroad and spent the first semester in Ireland at the Burren College of Art in County Claire. Her next stop was a semester in Florence, Italy, where she worked with a variety of different artists.

"I learned different forms of art while in Italy," she said. "One was fresco, a type of painting that Michelangelo used, and batik, painting on silk. I also did woodcarving and stonework."

When Clarke graduated from college she was surprised to find out that she had won a Van Derlip Grant, an award given to three students in the graduating class that can be used however the recipient sees fit. …