"Art is not propaganda. It is truth." John F. Kennedy, 1960
Elizabeth McClancy paints the faces of social crises that are either off the radar or insufficiently understood. As Peter Frank, Huffington Post art critic, noted in "To Be Self-Evident: Purpose, Principle & Portraiture,"
Her art, its exhibition and, ultimately, its distribution are strategically designed to promote awareness and support of front-line social change organizations who address the crisis in question.
"McClancy subscribes passionately to Marcel Duchamp’s dictate that 'the viewer completes the work of art,' and, further, that the work of art’s own history completes it as well. That is to say, the work of art incorporates its own history and future. ...Taking the bull by the horns, McClancy has decided to devote her art, and the process of its being made and seen, to affecting [social change]."
(Image: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Elizabeth McClancy, 2006, oil on canvas, 18" x 24", Democratic Principles series, No. 1.)
McClancy's debut series, "Democratic Principles," includes paintings of 22 contemporary government leaders paired with a statement by each subject on a cherished principle of American democracy. In no way intended as a "tribute" to these leaders, her purpose is to create a space for them and for us to consider "principles worth fighting for; principles worth dying for; principles worth losing an election to defend..." (E. McClancy, "Preface to the Plates," Democratic Principles, 2008).
Her upcoming series, titled "Look. At. Me.," will be the centerpiece of the Look. At. Me. Project, an interactive initiative set around three artists' responses to the same 12 people with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities. The national, touring show will have its NYC debut in the fall of 2015. The art exhibition will be supported by a follow-up online curriculum, mechanisms to introduce attendees to the disabilities nonprofit community, and enhanced programming at major metropolitan museums across the country.
President Barack Obama, Elizabeth McClancy, 2008, oil on canvas, 14" x 18", Democratic Principles series, No. 21.
Vice President Joe Biden, Elizabeth McClancy, 2009, oil on canvas, 14" x 18", Democratic Principles series, No. 22.