Artist Spotlight: Clyde Petersen
Published: December 16, 2021
Categories: Fall Campaign
From now through December 31st as part of our end-of-year campaign, we’ll be sharing stories from artists from across Washington State about the ways they are taking care of themselves and their communities. We hope you will join us in making a gift in support of artists now! Make a gift at artisttrust.org/donate
Clyde Petersen (they/he) is a transgender Northwest artist, working in film, animation, music, installation, and fabulous spectacle. In 2019, Clyde founded The Fellow Ship Artist Residency, a paid residency for queer and BIPOC artists to spend a week on Guemes Island in the Salish Sea. He lives in a wooden boat on land on Guemes Island, works on films, and runs the residency space.
Clyde has been the recipient of the Artist Trust Arts Innovator Award, The Neddy at Cornish, The Stranger Genius Award, and numerous other grants and awards. His work has been featured in museums, galleries, DIY spaces, and film festivals around the world. We were especially excited that Clyde gave us direct feedback on how our grants could better support artists
Name: Clyde Petersen
How did you first find out about Artist Trust? What is your history with Artist Trust?As a young working artist in Seattle in the 00’s, I read about Artist Trust while researching grant opportunities. I’ve learned throughout the years that Washington state is a competitive place to get funding since there are not that many granting organizations and a ton of talented and deserving artists. I applied to Artist Trust grants for 7 years, finally receiving a GAP grant in 2013 to fund my animation work for a performancecalled Gender Failure which premiered at the Harvard Exit at opening night of the Translations Film Festival. The following year I won the Arts Innovator Award from Artist Trust and was able to pay to complete the soundtrack to my feature film, Torrey Pines, in addition to spending 3 weeks in south Florida, exploring a region of the United States that I have long been interested in. This funding allowed me to both complete my work and travel to follow new interests and curiosities.
How has the Artist Trust community been meaningful or beneficial to you?The most valuable lesson I have learned growing up with Artist Trust is that there is a huge community of artists deserving of funding. Everyone can’t win every time, which is really too bad! Artist Trust should be given unlimited funding to celebrate each and every artist in Washington state. Celebrate my peers getting grants and learning about new artists and works in the community has been very meaningful to me.
What has the last year and a half been like for you and your artistic practice?In the past year and a half, my emotions have felt all over the map. I’ve been frozen, tired, worried and doubtful at times of the point of creating art in a country that does not care about artists.
I have had to set aside personal projects to take any work that comes my way to keep sustaining income. It’s depressing.
What has inspired you or brought you hope?Simon Hansalmann’s daily comic Crisis Zone kept me going all last year. Staying in communication with my art, music and film peers brought relatable moments to my days.
How have you taken care of yourself and your community during this time?I founded The Fellow Ship Artist Residency in 2019 on Guemes Island. The residency is a week-long, paid artist residency in a cozy trailer, 2 blocks from the beach. I was hosting residents as the pandemic began. I’ve hosted 40 artists in the past 2 years. Community members donated to create the stipend for each artist. Being able to offer a space for folks to create, rest and dream has been very joyful. I plan on continuing to host residents throughout the years.
Why is it important to support individual artists right now?Your life would be so boring without art. If you like TV, movies, music, murals, reading books or looking at Instagram, then you are enjoying with the work and labor artists. To say that art is not a job is to deny the fact that our lives are filled with the work and talent of so many individuals, creating the things that make life worth living on a daily level. If artists have to spend their time away from their practice to earn income, they have far less time to create new things and thats a loss to us all.
Why do you think it’s important for people to support Artist Trust as donors?Artist Trust is the only organization in Washington giving individual grants to artists statewide. This is extremely important. As a person who lives in Skagit County, I have grown to love the work of so many amazing artists who are deserving, but not eligible for grants centered in King County. Not everyone can afford, or wants to live Seattle, a city that is becoming less and less equitable and welcoming everyday. Supporting Artist Trust means putting your confidence and support in artists from all over the state.