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A native born Washingtonian, having grown up in Wheaton, MD and graduated from Wheaton High School, Clay Huffman experienced early artistic success as a ceramist. By the age of seventeen, and spurred by a desire to expand his creative repertoire, Clay became a student and artist-in-residence at the original Torpedo Factory Art Center  (his workspace was where they had once stored documents from the Nuremberg Trials). During this same period, he attended the Montgomery College School of Architecture, an experience which would dramatically affect his future artistic direction and technique. Turning his newly acquired drafting skills towards silkscreen printing, Clay spent the next three years studying the art from nationally recognized masters of the craft, Marcel  and Anne Laddon.
The union of his experience, talent, and unique subject matter provided Clay with a series of national awards and honors beginning throughout the United States including the Athenaeum  13th Annual Juried Show, the North Carolina Sixth Printing and Drawing Exhibition, and the 27th Hunterdon National Print Exhibition. Some highlights of this period came in 1993, when one of his silkscreens was selected for display at the prestigious Coconut Grove Arts Festival. Clay's reputation has since reached international levels with his work now displayed in corporate offices, private collections, and art institutions around the world. Most recently, four of Clay's major works were purchased for the American Embassy in Beijing, China. Clay also sent three major works to the US Embassy in Nairobi. Clay's silkscreen prints have earned unanimous praise from respected art critics and collectors across the country.
Continuing his artistic development amidst the creative environment of the Torpedo Factory Art Center, Clay drew his serigraph inspirations from a variety of sources ranging from the instantly recognizable icons of fast-food franchises to fast-disappearing islands of small business and local gossip. With a penchant for elevating the seemingly mundane to the monumental, Clay often focused—literally and figuratively—on "those places we pass each day and take little notice of".
Prior to commencement of any silkscreen project, the artist may make several photo trips to a prospective location in an attempt to capture the essence and mood of a place from various perspectives and times of day. A unique personal relationship develops between artist and cityscape, and it is this subjective insight that Clay so successfully translated and conveyed through his work.
The actual process of creating a silkscreen includes many steps. Since Clay's work was generally of actual places and things (with the occasional exception of some imaginative additions such as a Cinderellaesque figure running to catch the last train in his print titled "Metropolitan Curfew"), his first step was taking photographic images of the subject at different times to catch it with different shadows, lighting and character. From the selected photographic image and the artists feeling to inspire the final print, a line drawing was created. From the line drawing, Clay had to decide what color went where and cut out individual stencils for each area and color choice. Each stencil was then applied to a silkscreen and one by one, ink forced through the screen onto the paper, eventually creating the finished piece. This individual silkscreen process was used for every color on every print.
Unlike images created using a printing press (which uses pressure applied to copper plates to create an impression which can deteriorate in quality from the first print to the last), a silkscreen has no deterioration of the screen during printing. This consistency in print quality throughout the edition means that lower numbered prints should not be more desirable than higher numbered prints, except when determined by the artist.
Clay Huffman kept the first 10 prints of each of his silkscreens, he called it his "pension plan". As the prints sold, the first ten would become increasingly valuable. He sold one of his ten originals of a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop for $750. The original price was $150. Another silkscreen artist with a similar, yet almost opposite, business plan is Zachary Kent of Kent Designs. Kent currently specializes in rock art (collectible pieces commemorating an event, concert or show). After creating a new piece, Kent auctions the first handful (usually numbers 1-5) on eBay , starting with the higher number and selling through to number one in the edition before offering the rest for sale.
Not content with merely being a serigraph historian, Clay set in motion a developmental process combining his life's work and experience including his study of ceramics, architecture, stained glass, neon fabrication and design. His fascination with three-dimensional imaging can be seen in his whimsical and possibly prophetic piece, "Man's Best Friend in 2084". This piece, nicknamed "Robot" with an image of the same, was printed in four versions; black, gold, silver & copper. It was completed in September 1984 and printed on 26"x34" paper.
Imbued with a sense of humor, a touch of nostalgia, and an eye to the future, Clay's work was noted overall by a fastidious attention to detail and masterful technique. Each edition (rarely exceeding 200 impressions) would take Clay up to three months to complete.
One of his missions as an artist, he maintained, was preservation of disappearing styles of architecture and the giving of new life to bright and colorful signs that increasingly tend to be limited and dulled by modern building regulations and code restrictions. The buildings and objects shown in his silkscreens, he said, were "beautiful at one point. Now they're places we don't even notice. Once they knock them down, we miss them".
Clay Huffman died on January 15, 2001 at his home in Alexandria, VA, of complications related to AIDS and kidney failure. He had known that he was HIV positive for about 15 years before his death but maintained an ambitious work schedule. He was an organizer of the annual Torpedo Factory Mardi-Gras fund raising ball and had an interest in model railroad trains. After his death, remaining pieces of his work are handled by the Executor of his Estate, mentor and friend, Marcel  who still has a studio at the Torpedo Factory Arts Center in Alexandria, VA. After his death, a small, one week memorial exhibition and sale was held at the Torpedo Factory's Target Gallery.
Clay Huffman's work has been compared to that of fellow Washingtonian, Joseph Craig English. One of Clay's most recognizable pieces "Pigmentation on Powhatan" (nicknamed "Dixie II" or "Dixie Pig"), can be seen at ClayHuffman.com .His work "Last Call" can be seen at Sunforged Studios. Unfortunately, online representations of his pieces are rare although his popularity with collectors has grown in recent years.
|PRINT NAME||NICKNAME||NUMBER OF COLORS||FRAMED SIZE||DATE COMPLETED|
|Intermission||Candy Machine||33||17" x 20.5"||10/79|
|Progress Around Johnson's||Johnson's Full||40||20" x 26"||07/81|
|For Ice See Clerk In Store||Ice Box||26||14" x 18"||09/81|
|If You Can't Find It Ask||Front Door||22||14" x 18"||08/81|
|For Local Calls Deposit 20c||Telephone||Unknown||14" x 18"||11/81|
|Johnson's Store All A Glo||Johnson's Neon||26||14" x 32"||01/82|
|Demolition Man||Demo Man||45||26" x 32"||08/82|
|Escaping Steam||Steam||14||12.5" x 17.25"||09/82|
|It Will Be Ready At Five||Garage||26||26" x 32"||09/83|
|Two Burgers Fries And Coffee||Little Tavern||Unknown||26" x 32"||05/84|
|Man's Best Friend in 2084||Robot Black||14||26" x 34"||09/84|
|Man's Best Friend in 2084||Robot Gold||14||26" x 34"||09/84|
|Man's Best Friend in 2084||Robot Silver||14||26" x 34"||09/84|
|Man's Best Friend in 2084||Robot Copper||14||26" x 34"||09/84|
|National Facelift||Liberty||14||14" x 32"||12/84|
|Hot Doughnuts Now||Krispy Kreme||Unknown||26" x 32"||03/85|
|We'll Have Oil In Your Tank...||Fannon Oil||Unknown||26" x 32"||04/85|
|One Cheeseburger Sub-To Go||Little Tavern||Unknown||26" x 32"||Unknown|
|Puzzling Name For An Art Center||Torpedo Factory||Unknown||14" x 17"||Unknown|
|On A Universal Tour||Halley||36||14" x 32"||12/85|
|Club LT All A Glow||Club LT||30||20" x 26"||03/86|
|Metropolitan Curfew||Metro||32||14" x 32"||06/86|
|Patriotic Emblem||Small McD||12||18" x 24"||10/86|
|Corporate Infant||McD||32||18" x 24"||10/86|
|Radio Daze||Radio||25||11" x 14"||04/87|
|Video Fix||Bob's TV||30||11" x 14"||07/87|
|Lock-Smith||Wig||35||11" x 14"||08/87|
|G.C. & Co.||Murphy's||12||11" x 14"||09/87|
|Suppression Of The Masses||Corset||65||26" x 32"||05/88|
|Spirited Glow||Central||20||18" x 24"||06/88|
|High Voltage Speedee||Speedee||32||26" x 32"||08/88|
|Goodbye Luminous Market||Santullos||32||16" x 34"||01/89|
|Bug Busters||Bug||15||11" x 14"||03/89|
|Last Call||Whitlow's||30||20" x 26"||05/89|
|Pastry Palace||Brenners||30||20" x 26"||08/89|
|Tubular Swine||Dixie||60||26" x 32"||01/90|
|Royal View||Roller Rink||48||26" x 32"||09/90|
|Aspiring Market||Giant||45||14" x 32"||12/90|
|Sails||Hobie||8||14" x 17"||01/91|
|Too Late||Key Lime||17||11" x 14"||02/91|
|Burning Bright Tonight||Shorty's||30||20" x 26"||03/91|
|Coin Slot||Bank||60||16" x 34"||08/91|
|Celebration||Fireworks||31||26" x 32"||12/91|
|2000 Park||Collins Park||17||9" x 11"||02/92|
|1000 Collins||Fairmont||17||9" x 11"||02/92|
|720 Ocean||Beacon||17||9" x 11"||02/92|
|1220 Collins||Webster||17||9" x 11"||02/92|
|1420 Ocean Dr.||Crescent||17||12" x 18"||02/92|
|Miami Set||All 4 Miami||17||10.5" x 25.5"||02/92|
|Flemish Bond (Alex. House)||Brick||10||11" x 14"||07/92|
|Subterranean Jewels||Grand Central||Unknown||27" x 33"||Unknown|
|Up Your Alley||Bowling||50||15" x 33"||Unknown|
- ADSW: 1990 Art Deco Ball
- The Washington Post, Date: January 17, 1990, Section: Food, Author: Carole Sugarman
- "Architecture Home". Montgomerycollege.edu. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
- "Marcel Fine Artist". Marcelarts.com. Retrieved 2014-06-24.
-  Archived May 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- http://www.perfectisite.com. "Juried Print Exhibition - The Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton, NJ". Hunterdonartmuseum.org. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
- "Home: Welcome to the Coconut Grove Arts Festival". Coconutgroveartsfest.com. Retrieved 2014-06-24.
- "Torpedo Factory Art Center". Torpedofactory.org. Retrieved 2014-06-24.
- "Kent Designs screen printing located in Santa Cruz, CA". Kentdesigns.com. Retrieved 2014-06-24.
- "Expresso Beans". Expresso Beans. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
- The Washington Post, Date: January 25, 2001, Section: Metro, Author: Bart Barnes
- Alexandria Silk-Screen Artist Clay Huffman Dies
- "Marcel Fine Artist". Marcelarts.com. Retrieved 2014-06-24.
- The Washington Post, Date: March 16th, 2001, Section: Weekend, Author: Michael O'Sullivan
- "Printmaker, Painter, Sculptor". Joseph Craig English. Retrieved 2014-06-24.
- The Washington Post, Date: September 23rd, 2007, Section: Fall Home and Design, Author: Christina Breda Antoniades.