“I am inspired by my experiences,” says Clifford Rainey, “my daily experiences and my life-long experience.” Rainey has spent his life traveling the world, exploring regional ethnic groups and studying both cultural and artistic history. In the process he has amassed a visual iconography that references forms and concepts as diverse as Greco-Roman sculpture and the current stresses of globalization. Rainey’s ideas tend to come in tiny increments that in time form themselves into compositions of complexity, not unlike a symphony. As a result, his work is richly layered with double entendres and intriguing cultural convergences.
Symbols and metaphors play an important role in Rainey’s work, harvested for a particular meaning or noted as a point of reference. One such multifaceted symbol is the ubiquitous Coca-Cola bottle, a modern global icon that has become a running thread throughout much of Rainey’s work.
The purpose behind Rainey’s art is not to entertain but to challenge preconceived notions, to disturb ones comfort zone, and to be honest in conception and execution. The confrontational thread – clearly present in his concepts – also appears in his practice. In spite of Rainey’s proficiency with glass and his keen draftsmanship, he is unafraid to push the sculptural potential of his materials. He abrades and ages his work, removing the sheen of glass so that in the end it more closely resembles an archeological relic than sculpture in a contemporary context.