Clyde Petersen spent a lot of time with box forts as a child and one can’t help but be impressed with how those building techniques have evolved. He is a transgender Northwest artist working in film, animation, music, installation, and fabulous spectacle.
Using large-scale installations to draw viewers into the landscape of his films, Clyde’s solo exhibitions often feature life-size replicas of objects and nature. Made entirely of cardboard, these landscapes fill the room and surround his film projections. He re-creates lost worlds and documents queer culture that has been largely erased by AIDS, capitalism, and gentrification. He works to offer alternate, more equitable realities and futures through the reexamination of histories of overlooked communities. His work is slow and patient, animating only a few seconds of film a day, gathering new oral histories, and building scale-model worlds in which to tell stories.
Clyde is the director of Torrey Pines, a stop-motion animated feature film with a live score that toured the world for two years. Torrey Pines is an autobiographical film about growing up with a schizophrenic mother in the early ‘90s. Clyde is currently working on two new feature films: Even Hell Has Its Heroes: The Music of Earth, a documentary about the legendary Seattle band Earth, shot entirely on Super8 film, and Our Forbidden Country, a stop-motion animated film about the history of the Northwest gay community in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Clyde’s inspiration comes from oral histories, community, nature, and adventures. He grew up in the Northwest, attending and playing music shows at the Department of Safety in Anacortes. I asked what brought Clyde to Guemes Island. “When I was looking for a quiet place to live, an opportunity on Guemes arrived. I feel so lucky to live on Guemes Island.” When not creating art, Clyde can be found riding his bike in circles all over the island, visiting the donkeys and the peacocks, and looking for whales.
In addition to his own art, Clyde nurtures that of others. He founded and runs The Fellow Ship Artist Residency on Guemes Island, a free artist residency space for Queer and BIPOC people.