Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 5 No. 3 | Fall 1983 (Seattle) /// Issue 5 of 24 /// Master# 53 of 73

I Call On CLAUDIA CAVE- SUMNER P h o to b y D a v id M il h o ll a n d l/l^iile visiting with Claudia Cave- Sumner, I meet her two dogs. The one whose eyes are different colors is a real sweetheart. The other one, the one with the rat-nose and the electric tail, looks like he might like to do something to me, though it’s not entirely clear what. Looking at Cave-Sumner’s drawings, the question of what the dog might have in mind, left to its own devices, becomes even more intriguing. Would it like to bite me on the leg? Engage me telepathically? Inhabit my body? But the dog is in the garage now, and we’re sitting on the lawn of the small, well- cared-for green shingled house she shares with her husband Kent in a quiet family neighborhood in Salem. Kent’s off to work, we’re in the shade of a tree with some kind of little green fruit dropping off of it. As we talk, the little green fruit I am absently mutil ating with my fingernail gradually begins taking on the feeling of something in one of her drawings, a kind of importance that makes me begin having second thoughts about digging my fingers into a fig for my own amusement. BY JIM BLASHFIELD But that’s what draws you to someone’s art, isn’t it? It’s the ability to show you something you haven’t been seeing. Clinton St. Quarterly: Would you give me a brief history of your life? Claudia Cave-Sumner: It would be very brief, because it hasn't been that involved. I was born in Salem and went to Salem schools. After I graduated, I went to Oregon College of Education [in nearby Monmouth] and decided I wanted to be a teacher. When I was a little kid, I was the type of person who would gather the young kids into my garage and teach them things — things I didn’t know, but I would teach them anyway. Another reason is because I was always involved in art and I didn’t know what else you could do with art. You can’t be an artist. That's not a real job. I taught for three years, and got married to one of my best friends from college. We decided we wanted to go back to school, and moved to Moscow, to attend graduate school at the University of Idaho. All my professors were males, who couldn’t relate to what I was doing and I couldn’t relate to them. And so I spent a lot of time being frustrated. But I found when I left that all that frustration that I was dealing with at the time is the main force in what I’m doing now. It really forced me to think about my direction, my reasons for doing what I'm doing, my imagery; it clarified my goals. CSQ: Are you drawing foryourself, or are you communicating with someone else when you draw? CCS: I think both. Of course the ideas start with me. Because I find I have more power in what I do if it’s coming from an emotional base. I can't take your emotion and do a piece from it. I have to take mine. And I try to clarify imagery to a certain extent, so it won't be so jumbled up with unimportant things that it makes no sense at all. If I were just drawing for myself, I’d just be popping in all these things that are coming to my mind. Because people do view it, Ithink about what someone will see first. How they will react. CSQ: What is your attitude toward the content of these drawings? CCS: I think my stuff has two levels, really. I think there’s a humorous level always. There’s a part of me that can’t take too many things too seriously. I don’t know what’s important in life, I haven't found that out. But on the other hand, I’m a fairly serious person, and so everything is important. I'm a person with a lot of Above: Hollow Ween. At right: Night Life . n : . ■>», - ««#• [W i w 'VM I W j