Apr 15th, 2019, 10:12 AM

Faculty Spotlight: Clara Delamater

By Claire Price
Professor Clara Delamater has taught at AUP for 19 years. Image credit: Claire Price
Young artists at AUP grow under Professor Clara Delamater's guidance.

On the fifth floor of Combes, creativity flows freely. Meet Clara Delamater, a loyal AUP art teacher of 19 years and a lifelong artist. Clara’s life outside of AUP is immersed in the world of professional art. She is an accomplished sculptress, drawer, and dancer. Clara was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine and raised in Paris, speaking both French and English. She first got involved with art at the Conservatoire Boulogne-Billancourt, where she studied dance. From then on, her artistic journey took her to Julian Academy for graphic arts, Montparnasse School of Art, and the famous Beaux-Arts, before embarking on a seven-year apprenticeship with one of the last French masters of stone carving, Jacques Gestalder. 

Professor Delamater next to a sculpture at the Musée Rodin. Image credit: Claire Price 
Clara first discovered sculpture when she witnessed a sculptor working on her daily route to and from school. “Every time I passed by, it would intrigue me. I used to hide and watch him work. It was like a mystery of how he could go about expressing the human body in stone, with just his knowledge. I think that point in my life did something to me.” Amazingly, she ran into the same artist some years later while she was showcasing her work alongside his at the Grand Palais. Professor Delamater has had the privilege of showing her work in many different places and has received multiple awards, such as the first prize for young sculptors in 1980, presented by the Nationale des Beaux-Arts at the Grand Palais, and the sculpture prize at the Orangerie du Luxembourg in 1984. 

A sculpture by Clara Delamater. Image Credit: The American University of Paris 

One of Delamater's favorite subjects is three-dimensional portraiture. Professor Delamater had the rare opportunity to create a bust of former French president François Mitterand, who sat for her at the Elysée Palace for three hours at a time, twelve times. “He went through very bad times during his power, especially during some attacks. It was interesting to be there two or three weeks after an attack happened. His face totally changed. He was extremely worried, of course. All of that goes into the portrait. When you have very strong ideas going through your head, the face physically changes.”

Mitterand is not the only political figure that she has sculpted. In 1995, she sculpted the bust of General de Gaulle, which is currently shown in a park in Issy-Les-Moulineaux. Her work can also be seen gracing various city halls as well as a few homes, parks, and offices. For example, the Prince of Saudi Arabia is lucky enough to have an onyx bas-relief in his Paris home sculpted by Professor Delamater. 

Professor Delamater sculpting President Francois Mitterand in 1987. Image credit: Clara Delamater

Not only is Professor Delamater an accomplished sculptress, but also, of course, a seasoned professor. She first started teaching in 1978 at L’École Des Techniques teaching sculpture. Her teaching career then continued at the prestigious Parsons School of Design in Paris, then, of course, onto The American University of Paris. “What I really enjoy is when I see that the student has enough technique to explore their imagination. And to be freer in a way. That's when I really appreciate that the keys that I've been giving were something that can be used to explore their own world. Their own personality, their own sensitivity, and they sort of let go in a way (of the technique) to be freer.” This passion for sharing her knowledge is evident to her students. One student, Dohaan Kohli, stated, “She is a good teacher. She doesn’t force you to do anything, but instead guides you towards a better end result, and still allows imagination.” 

After 19 successful years at The American University of Paris, Delamater stated fondly, "I love the atmosphere, I love my students, I love teaching, I love transmitting my knowledge." The university will likely see many young artists grow with Professor Delamater in the years to come.