In honor of our People Issue, which will hit newsstands and computer screens November 25, Cultist proudly presents "100 Creatives," where we feature Miami's cultural superheroes in random order. Have suggestions for future profiles? Email email@example.com with the whos and whys.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, "during low tide in the gene pool" and raised in Broward County, Clifton Childree is one of Miami's most innovative artists. He uses film to create visual installations that range from stop-motion animation to slapstick comedy to gore, but most of all the man has a sense of humor. That can be explained by the fact that as a kid, he spent summers on the Funny Farm--his family's summer home in Mobile Bay, Alabama. During these summers Childree learned how to "smoke driftwood and play the washtub bass," as well as priceless lessons from his grandparents, Grandma Doris and Grandpa Jeff. Doris, a former vaudeville child star, would help the kids organize an "end of the summer" variety show and Grandpa Jeff, a former juvenile delinquent, taught Childree "dirty jokes, amazing stories, and...how to shuck oysters."
Childree grew up "surrounded by antiques and crab traps, horror films, and cast nets." Now he incorporates all those childhood memories into his work, producing art films that hail back to the days of silent films. "My films are an arena for uninhibited eccentricity. They seesaw between the sublime and the profane while shamelessly employing melodrama, blunt humor, and sight gags. They are doused liberally with scatalogical slapstick such as bare asses, flying poop and over-sized dicks, and their quaint toilet humor unleashes repressed urges and drives."
They also unleash a lot of respect. His film The Flew was named one of the top 50 midnight movies of the past decade by Cashiers Du Cinemart magazine and in 2004 Childree received the South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship. Over 40 international film festivals have presented his work and he was named Best Local Artist by the New Times in 2008.
Childree's Miamuh Swamp Adventure installation at Pulse NYC.
Courtesy of Clifton Childree
1. List five things that inspire you.
-Haunted House rides
-Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne Switzerland
2. What was your last big project?
Miamuh Swamp Adventure installation at Pulse NYC.
3. What's your next big project?
I am currently working on three big projects at the same time--solo exhibition at Dorsch Gallery "Orchestrated Gestures" on Nov. 27th, puppet films for Pablo Cano's Theater at the new Young At Art Museum opening 2011, and a solo exhibition at the Vienna Kunsthalle which opens February 8th.
4. Why do you do what you do?
I am cursed by a dark undercurrent, tugging.
5. What's something you want Miami to know about you?
I've been from coast to coast on a piece of toast, and back again on a bottle of gin.
What's something you don't want Miami to know about you?
When, occasionally, my pants somehow come off in my slapstick films, before I shoot my naked scenes I tug on my wiener a few time to give it some length/girth.