Hinsdale artist weaves family love, knitting and angels into painting

More from Maureen


Mary-Margaret, 24, works in the casting industry in Los Angeles, and designs jewelry

Elizabeth, 23, office manager for Mary Burke, Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate challenging Scott Walker

Annie, 22, a student at Indiana University, and part-time officer with the Indiana University police force

Joseph, 16, a sophomore at Hinsdale Central, and a bassist

Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life? Nicole Kidman

What superpower would you like to have? The ability to feed everyone who is hungry

Would you liked to have lived in another time period? I’ve always been fascinated by the medieval time and its ornamentation. But that was before penicillin, so I probably would not have wanted to live then.

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Artist Maureen Claffy will showcase her artwork in the stately building on the corner of Washington and First streets in downtown Hinsdale for a limited time.

The Hinsdale native has rented the space, which formerly housed a bank and the Gap, through Thursday, May 15, to coincide with Mother’s Day, as she did last year. Claffy will donate 10 percent of her sales to the Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills District 181 Foundation and to the Hinsdale Central PTO.

After graduating from Hinsdale Central High School in 1986, Claffy majored in English Literature and French at the University of Illinois in Champaign. While she was studying abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France, Claffy accompanied her friend to a life drawing class.

“I just knew when I took that class, that was what I was meant to do,” Claffy said.

She returned to Illinois, got her degree as planned, and got married. As a newlywed, she began taking classes at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. When her husband’s job took them to Dublin, Ireland, in 2005, Claffy took private art lessons there.

“So much of my early work had the Celtic scroll or the Gordian knot in it,” she said.

Intertwining circles were an image that stayed with her.

“I almost never use straight lines when I paint,” Claffy said.

Her abstract paintings feature fluid lines, vivid colors and organic shapes.

Since 2007, she has been taking classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. Claffy finds it invigorating because she never had been part of an artistic community before.

“I work out of my home. What used to be my master bedroom is my studio where I paint with acrylics. Downstairs in the kitchen and the dining room is where I paint watercolors. I work on maybe eight paintings at a time,” she said.

Claffy creates paintings based on different themes, such as butterflies, angels, quilting and knitting.

“I used to knit and make blankets all the time. That was my art form.”

When she was caring for a sick child, Claffy said, “All I could do was knit to calm myself.”

In her paintings, knitting symbolizes the love between a mother and child.

“When you knit two stitches together, they lay over each other so beautifully, you can’t tell one from the other,” she said.

In addition to painting, Claffy created a handmade jewelry line with her now 24-year-old daughter, Mary-Margaret Kunze, called Bloodline.

“It started out very much as a family thing,” Claffy said. “We gave them to people we love.”

The pieces are made of metals, such as copper, brass, and silver, stones and at least one trademark red bead.

When her daughter moved to Los Angeles two years ago, Claffy packed up all the materials and equipment and sent them to her.

“She has made it her own. She obviously has this gift for designing,” Claffy said of her daughter’s shared passion for the arts.

Bloodline jewelry will be sold with Claffy’s original paintings and prints in the temporary gallery, at 101 S. Washington, Hinsdale.

A preview party is open to the public from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. tonight, May 8.

The studio also will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, March 9 and Saturday, March 10; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday, May 12 to Thursday, May 15.


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