The purpose of my research is to conduct the first comprehensive study of the life and artwork of Clara Mairs. I seek to re-consider her life and work in the larger
context of women artists working in Minnesota during the depression era and into
the mid-twentieth century. Outspoken and individualistic, Clara played a significant
role in activating the modern and avant-garde art movements in Minnesota and
was a central figure in the early phases of arts education development in St. Paul.
Clara did not prescribe to the popular artistic trends of the early twentieth century and in her paintings, prints and applied arts, she continually experimented with new techniques. Playful yet psychological, monumental yet humble, Clara’s broad body of work reflects the reality, emotion and artistic happenings of her time. As with many female Midwestern artists, little attention has been given to her fascinating body of work. My research involves locating and cataloging Clara’s
artworks and related documents scattered throughout various public and private
collections. In piecing together the many facets of Clara’s career, my goal is to
illuminate her artistic achievements and to challenge and expand the commonly accepted canon of early American modernism.