About Cleve's Work


Both in teaching and working, I have moved in a fluid progression through various media of artistic expression and craftsmanship. My first love was photography, but in the Seventies, clay sculpture and pottery became my focus. My medium of choice evolved to woodcuts and etching, which I'm still inspired to do from time to time. In the Eighties, welding became my passion and steel sculptures my expression.

I began doing mixed media collages when living in Senegal, West Africa, in the early Nineties. It was invention born of necessity, for an artist without canvas, brushes or paints. My media consisted of local natural materials, including wood, sand, shells and rock, as well as cast off materials, such as metal objects which had been worn as thin as lace by the elements. Back in the U.S. in the late Nineties, I moved into wood collages and sculptures, inspired by the work of Louise Nevelson.

After working on wood cityscapes for about two years in Washington, DC, I began to see the abundant electronic material being discarded as a source of inspiration. They varied in color, media, size, shape and texture, and could be fit together to represent the technological centers that produced them. I began to experiment and was able to mix and apply colors without covering the texture of the circuit boards.

Cleve Overton, mixed media artist

My work has been called "enigmatic" and "cryptic," but to me it's nostalgic. I'm not a visionary, and I'm trying to find boundaries with my work. My materials are both primitive and technologically sophisticated. It's comforting to be an outsider or an outlier if it makes people smile.

I use mostly recycled electronic material and other media. My pieces are both miniature representations of the urban and technological centers that produced them, and a reminder that we need an infrastructure for convenient, safe, inexpensive computer disposal. Millions of computers and their lead-containing monitors become obsolete and find their way to our landfills annually, or are exported to countries with less strict pollution laws. My work is one small effort to give them new life. One piece commemorates 9-11, because the material lent itself readily to become an abstract yet obvious portrayal of the destruction of that terrible day. Most of the pieces shown weigh between 15 and 40 pounds, and all are framed and ready to hang.


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