Name: Claren W.
Majors: Art history and advertising
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Claren pairs a bright orange sweater with a pair of black striped pants, both of which she found thrifting. She said buying used clothes, “allows me to change things up pretty regularly.”
How did you decide on your majors? Well art history has always been my passion and what I enjoy doing. I also knew that the journalism school has a really good reputation. So I wanted to be involved there, and there’s a lot of fun things happening.
How do you see your two majors combining? Initially, I thought that there would be an overlap in terms of visual literacy and being able to understand how art functions and apply that to advertising. But now that I’m getting more into the disciplines, I’m realizing that art history is really so theory-based and about dissecting minutia and questioning things and being comfortable with ambiguity. And advertising is not really like that. So they’re diverging more now, but I think having both the liberal arts major and the more trade-based major will be good in the long run.
Is there a movement that inspired your love of art? That’s really hard. Embarrassingly, I started out liking impressionism, and now I’m not a huge fan, but that’s kind of how I got started. I always liked going to museums just because it was kind of quiet and a nice place to be. So I hung out there a lot as a kid and had a really good art history teacher in grade school. So that’s how I got into it, but now I’m definitely more into looking at more contemporary things.
She rocks Blundstones, which she said, “everyone at UO or in Portland has.”
Who are some of your favorite contemporary artists? I’ve been talking a lot to Lee Asahina who is in the MFA program [at UO]. She’s the only person still doing painting in the MFA program, which is interesting. I’m also really into Lutz Bacher, Yvonne Rainer (a modern dance pioneer) and Wangechi Mutu.
Are artists switching to digital? There’s a lot of emphasis now on new media and sculpture. Sculpture can take the form of installations or different kinds of sensorial experiences. So there’s a big shift away from the more “traditional media.”
How would you describe your style? Oh that’s always tough. I think it’s evolving. It’s always changing, honestly. I look at what I wore last year, and I’m completely embarrassed by it most of the time. I’d like to describe it as the brink of disheveled, but not quite there. I always wear my hair in a bun, so I feel that somehow makes me seem like I’m more with it than I am.
She often wears buns because she used to do ballet and it has become a habit. She said being a dancer, “made me dress a little bit more comfortably. And I also still love any kind of stretchy pant.”
Do you have any style inspirations? Sometimes it comes from fashion people. But honestly a lot of times, it’s just looking at what my friends are wearing and also what artists are wearing. I think artists have really fun, kind of messy choices that I don’t necessarily emulate, but I look at and appreciate. I also sometimes think about the colors that kids will put together. I’m an art instructor at a little art studio in Portland during the summer. Seeing what all the kids wear is sometimes kind of fun.
Is there a memorable outfit you saw a kid wear? Well this one kid, her name is Lucy, and she would have this uniform of different kinds of corduroy pants. Then she would wear a patterned, long-sleeve shirt, but she always wanted two shirts. So she put another T-shirt or tank top or something on top of it. So there’s a minimum of two shirts on at any time. And then the corduroys. It was a good look, so she’s my icon.
The stamped ring (far left) was a gift from her friend. Her sister gave her the gold ring, and she thrifted the silver one (far right).
What would you like your style to be in the future? It’ll probably end up morphing into something that’s more professional or put together if I have to have a job at some point. So I’m taking my college years as kind of an experimental period in terms of what I wear. I hope eventually in the future that I can be a very well-dressed grandmother or older woman. I admire a lot of women who are a little bit older than me who just wear whatever they want and look really good doing it.
Words and photos by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, @HSteinkopfFrank