Carolyn Clayton's work seeks to cultivate an enhanced awareness of our shared lives with things. She has long been interested in the traces that human beings leave on material objects. Not only the observable scratches, smudges and smells that hint at past occurrences, but also the invisible and undetectable ones. She is enamored with how something as simple as touch can drastically shift an object’s perceived value, making it tainted or treasured (contaminated or cherished). This has positioned her to ask whether object history is retained in the fragments of everyday things, which she explores by interacting with, collecting, photographing, pulverizing and reassembling second-hand objects.
Clayton received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in 2009, and her MFA from the University of Michigan in 2016, along with a certificate in Museum Studies. Clayton has exhibited her work nationally and internationally and in 2016 was awarded the Dedalus Foundation, MFA Fellowship in Sculpture. She has participated in residencies at Elsewhere, Vermont Studio Center (full-fellowship), the A-Z Institute for Investigative Living and Tomma Rum in Ljusne, Sweden. Clayton is a member of the 2017/18 North Adams Project cohort, a program of Assets for Artists and MASS MoCA, which has helped relocate her life and studio practice to North Adams, Massachusetts.