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NIGHT SHADE by Claire Christerson

Claire Christerson presents her second solo exhibition,"Night Shade." The narrative of the show follows a character who is stricken with night terrors but learns to overcome her fears by submerging herself into a forest in the night. "Night Shade," is a love letter to the night and a reminder to conquer fear through love. In this article, Christerson tells us about the process of developing this multimedia show and how her personal experiences with night depression played a role in the wise conclusions observed in her artistic expression.

The show is open at Little Sister Gallery in Toronto up through September 8-29 weekends.

A printed book complements the show printed by Little Sister Gallery x Flaccid Press. To purchase please contact Claire Christerson.


I love the irony in the title ‘Night Shade’ How did you choose this?

“Night Shade” was planted in my head two years ago. I was very interested in poisonous or toxic plants and I arrived at drawing a flower that I thought looked like nightshade. It was a time of extreme sadness and I put the project away to work on other things. As I developed this show, I began to understand the relationship more between the words “night” and “shade.” Night is all the way. Shade is half way. There has to be some balance there.

What inspired this show? What is the synopsis of the story?

So as I started in the other question, this project was something that I put away in my back pocket two years ago. I began actually working towards this show in May. It felt very natural to fall back into this work. I wanted to create a body of work that felt connected in every medium and felt clean and sophisticated. Inspired by night depression-I wanted to insert this real life truth into the show through creating a fictional character to live through it.

The show consists of many different media from a book of illustrations to a sound installation. How are they all the same and different?

The show will contain, drawings, sculptures, a sound installation (by Kinlaw), and a book. This summer I felt very inspired by the idea of creating costumes to go into the show as well. So I am actually going to put on my version of a fashion show, showing the costumes inspired by the drawings. The drawings are the heart of the matter, everything else revolves around them-it’s important to me to render the 2-D to 3-D. All the parts make up the same feeling- just different mediums.

What is the relationship between fear and love?

That’s a huge and small question at the same time. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this this summer. I feel that humans exist in fear and that’s our biggest downfall, and it’s up to all of us individually to make that choice to use that fear and put it into love. As a child, I would go through bouts of night depression, and as I got older and experienced more, nights still remained the hardest part of the day for me. Everything would become stretched out and longer and sadder. To deal with sadness, loss... to live with being sad, and to be able to find poetry in it to generate love into yourself, that’s the relationship to me.

Why have the character in this series submerge herself in the night time forest when she fears just that?

Because in order to become her full self she needs to go through what is hard or frightening in order to grow and develop.

Butterflies and wings seem to appear quite frequently in your work. Why?

Butterflies and wings are uplifting elements in my life. They make me happy and they give me hope.

Why should people write their own love letters to their fears?

I think that everyone has their own journey to go on, and having the courage to get past feeling afraid of something is a wonderful part of the journey. I don’t know if writing letters is for everyone, but I know that for me, writing is a great tool to accomplish that. A love letter is affection and there has to be affection flowing from within in order to push forward.

Tell me about the sound scape by Sarah Kinlaw

Sarah Kinlaw, who goes by Kinlaw for her work, is a wonderful artist and great friend of mine. We have collaborated on different projects-she contributed to my show last year (Daisy Chains Heart Ecology) by making a soundscape that was fitting to that body of work. This year she generously created a new soundscape for “Night Shade.” As these shows develop, I am finding that sound is really important to help push the feeling of the entire show/vision. Kinlaw is someone who I trust so much and feel connected with. She has this capability to look at a drawing of mine and run with it. There’s just so much care and though behind what Kinlaw does.

Do you get nightmares? What are they like?

I’ve had very powerful dreams that have inspired a lot of my work. They do not happen often, but when they do, I feel like I have gained another piece of knowledge about my inner imagination/life, that helps to influence how I approach my outward life.

How much do your own personal fears translate into your artwork?

I don’t think that fears come into to my work so much as obsession does. I get obsessed with working something out inside of me until it’s worked out. I am meticulous and will do something a lot of times because I enjoy looking at all the efforts put together for me to assess how to proceed with what I need v.s. What I want to make next.

What was your favorite moment in the entire process of developing this show?

Watching details of the drawings get filled and being fulfilled by meticulous little lines that don’t mean anything up close, but are powerful when you step back. I also really enjoyed expressing my idea between the different mediums.




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