Artist captures past life experiences in Toronto exhibit

In 1963, when artist David McClyment was 10 years old, he recalls his Grade 3 teacher crying as she announced to his class that U.S. President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

“What was going on? My teacher crying?” McClyment remembered thinking.

While it may not have registered when he was 10, McClyment sensed the assassination had significance in his life and his artistic expression.

“The assassination introduced the world to the reality of modern public life,” McClyment said. Years later, the resulting piece of art he created for his current exhibit “Gone (Again)” at Toronto’s David Kaye Gallery (through Jan. 31), explores that theme.

“The imagery in Gone (Again) steps back a little,” he said. “It looks at the sudden removal of celebrities from public life, people like John Kennedy.”

McClyment, is the co-ordinator of the Fine Arts Studio program at Centennial College’s East York campus. Galleries have shown his work across the GTA, throughout the province and internationally.

Frequently in his work, McClyment likes to depict his personal life. In one of his previous shows, Dreaming I was a Crow Dreaming, he used a mixture of carbon and charcoal to capture the crows. Why crows?

“Charcoal is black. Crows are black. A coincidence? I think not,” McClyment said. “They are fun to draw and allow the viewer to quickly get into the imagery. They (crows) become stand-ins for all kinds of human behaviour. And while I didn’t consider it at the beginning, crows are frequently the embodiment of the ‘trickster’ in many cultures.”

McClyment has lectured, run workshops and taught art related courses for over 20 years in 10 different colleges and universities across Ontario. He said he tries to inspire his students to be passionate and to love what you’re doing as an artist.

“I tend not to think of myself as a teacher, but more of a mentor. That is, an artist working with other artists,” McClyment said. “I have been on the planet a little longer, so I am happy to share what I have learned.”