Claire B Jones, Interlinked 11, 2016. Free-motion embroidered on cotton canvas with thread, 14 x 11 x 10 inches. Photo: Bret Corrington.

“Failure Exposed” by Claire B. Jones

My solo show, A Perception of Failure is currently on display at Mobius Gallery in Bothell, Washington. This is the 4th time I have displayed this work in a particularly critical light. The exhibition would have occurred in 2020 but the pandemic forced me to wait 2 years to be this vulnerable once again. When did it ever seem like a good idea to reveal the flaws in my artwork to the world?

Claire B. Jones, Curves 2, 2019. Free-motion embroidered on cotton canvas with thread, 10.5 x 6 x 9 inches. Photo: Bret Corrington.


Human nature is intriguing. By accident, I found how to make people pay close attention to my art. Each artwork is augmented with a unique statement explaining why it failed to meet my original objectives. I anticipated the usual, perfunctory browsing after viewers had looked at one or two pieces. However, when attending a previous opening of this exhibition, I was stunned. Almost everyone was lingering at each piece and methodically working their way round the gallery. I had captivated their attention by revealing my inner criticality. My art was being dissected for its failings. Was this my intent?

Claire B. Jones, Interlinked 11, 2016. Free-motion embroidered on cotton canvas with thread, 14 x 11 x 10 inches. Photo: Bret Corrington.

What the artist perceives as a flaw in this piece:
“Multi holed pieces are more difficult but fascinating. The curves that occur across all the dimensions create new challenges. In this case, resulting in a second hole which is oversized and misshapen.”

I did not expect to grow my career by being publicly critical about my artwork. When I looked into locations to exhibit this work, I found that many galleries were linked to academic institutions. This made me think back to when I was a young student, learning to deal with what I perceived as failure. From these thoughts, the idea of revealing the imperfections I viewed in my artwork took hold. The extensive notes that I take when creating each piece would form the backbone of this exhibition.

Claire B. Jones, Arches 1, 2019. Free-motion embroidered on cotton canvas with thread, 10 x 6.5 x 7 inches. Photo: Bret Corrington.

Failure, real or imagined, or fear of failure and society’s ensuing judgment is common. It can seem all consuming and insurmountable when enveloped in its grasp. I wanted to invite the viewer to contrast their viewpoint with my own, and to examine their ideas and experiences of failure in the context of a meaningful visual experience.

This idea is an extension of my time studying at the Gail Harker Center for Creative Arts. At the end of each course, we exhibited our final work along with revealing details of our process via sketchbooks and samples. Mine were not pretty, neat, and cohesive but a random spew of ideas never created for others to consume. Revealing the details of my process is something I find intriguing. My art doesn’t magically happen, its constant work, and there are often many missteps and mishaps along the way. I have yet to make a piece that matches the original vision in my head. Only by learning how to let go of my insecurities and fear can I keep moving forward. Seeing the difference between success and perfection is a step on my journey.

Claire B. Jones, Arches 4, 2019. Free-motion embroidered on cotton canvas with thread, 15.5 x 8.5 x 12.5 inches. Photo: Bret Corrington.

In confronting the “ugly underbelly” of what I do, I grow as an artist. In revealing details of my process and perceived flaws I face them head on and stop them controlling me. In my exhibition A Perception of Failure I go the extra step and leverage them to my advantage. This is one way I find my power as an artist.

A Perception of Failure is on display through December 13, 2022, at Mobius Gallery (Cascadia College in Bothell, WA). If you are intrigued to hear more about my thought process, please see my talk It’s Not about the Stitch

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3 Comments

  • Nancy P Monson says

    November 18, 2022 at 8:00 am

    These pieces are so beautiful--but I totally agree about how the vision in your head can rarely be realized. And how important it is to accept the failures and keep moving on without judging. This is an important post that made me think--thank you.

  • Susan Avishai says

    November 18, 2022 at 8:18 am

    I really find it unimaginable to end up with the piece you had in your head when you started. It’s to your credit that you are flexible and creative and confident enough to go the way the piece wants to go, to solve unconceived of problems, and to stay light on your feet. This is success, not failure, in my book.

  • Ellen Ramsey says

    November 18, 2022 at 11:25 am

    Claire, there is NOTHING "ugly" about your "underbelly"! Gorgeous work and great concept for a show.

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