Will Clift’s favorite toy as a child (he was born and raised in Santa Fe) was a huge set of wooden blocks, which he’d assemble into cantilevered structures, pushing them larger and larger until they came crashing down. As he grew up, this evolved into Sculpture was Clift’s first passion, but not his first career ambition. He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees from Stanford that combined psychology, business, and engineering, then worked as a consulting engineer for three years before committing to his art full-time in 2006.
While much of his early work was in wood, as the scale and complexity of his pieces has increased, he has mastered a wide range of materials to keep up. Large-scale and site-specific works are now his primary focus, in materials including steel, carbon fiber composite, and ultra-high-performance concrete.
I explore gesture in sculpture through the interaction of form, gravity, and balance. This interaction is my medium, as much as any physical material.
My sculptures are abstract but evocative, tied to familiar forms. They explore the line between order and disorder, combining intersecting parts into a whole that stands in delicate equilibrium on a small foot. Each work is precarious, yet ultimately poised and stable, overcoming entropy. I use this narrow point of balance to connect viewers to something beyond the sculptural object itself. In each form are tension and poise, the suggestion of gesture or movement, the ephemeral moment between breathing in and out.
My training is a combination of engineering, the sciences, and the arts, and with my sculpture I aim to pull these disparate fields together. As I would have said in my days as an engineer, the point of balance is where potential energy transitions into kinetic energy, and a form narrowly balanced can express both.
Over the last 20 years I’ve mastered several traditional sculptural media, including wood, bronze, and steel, and have pioneered within the sculptural field several others, including carbon fiber composite and ultra-high-performance concrete. Each material has its strengths and limitations, and matching the material to the multi-faceted demands of a project is something I care a great deal about.