The Clockwork Alchemy Artist’s Gallery and Exhibition – Artist Profile: Teri Lenfest

In Victorian times, galleries were the cultural hubs of proper society, and exhibitions would showcase the ingenuity and inventiveness of the period. The Clockwork Alchemy Artists’ Gallery and Exhibition is a place to see and experience the art of Steampunk with minimal distraction. Custom built displays and controlled lighting showcase the exhibited art. During the event, our inventors and artists are often available to explain and demonstrate the wonders of their making. We present them here in hopes that you’ll be excited to see their works in-person in the future!

This month’s featured artist this month is Teri Lenfest. Teri is a long-time steampunk and friend of Clockwork Alchemy. She has displayed many of her pieces in the Artists’ Gallery at previous conventions, and has helped out as a volunteer in many capacities.

How long have you been involved in steampunk?

Oh, it’s been way longer than a decade. I got involved early on in Seattle, then California in 2010/2011.

When did you get involved in Clockwork Alchemy?

My involvement actually predates Clockwork Alchemy, when it was still Nova Albion. I met most of the people involved in Clockwork Alchemy through my daughter, Kat Powell, and her friends quickly became mine. I’ve done a number of things: runner, room monitor, break person, workshop presenter, panel member, art gallery operator, artist, set-up and tear-down, etc.

What do you call your art and why do you enjoy it?

That’s always been a hard question for me. I finally settled on the term “multi-media fabric art”, because it starts with an acrylic painting on shirting fabric then incorporates: swatches of other fabric, beads, buttons, gears, rivets, embroidery floss, leather, pleather, paper, feathers, ribbon, pen nibs, plastic salsa containers, aluminum cans, bread wrapper clips, broken jewelry, and all kinds of found objects.

Some pieces are fully washable and can be sewn on vests, jackets, shopping bags, purses, etc. others are not washable and are framed for hanging.

The world of steampunk seemed to be getting darker and darker to me, so I try to lighten it up by leaning towards the whimsical.

I find working on my art to be a kind of meditation. Nothing is planned out ahead of time, I just zone out and go with the flow.

My first piece was the chambered nautilus. I wasn’t a painter and didn’t know that I could paint until I did that. I was as surprised as everyone else. The nautilus, raven, kracken, and insect made of keys, are sewn on the back of vests and have been through the washer and dryer for more than a decade.

The tracked town is my response to movies and books that portrayed wheeled or tracked cities in very dark ways. Mine is a light, bright, happy, pleasure village, that’s all fun. There is a cougar C’thulu scout, and a cat butterfly netter, a giraffe carousel animal that’s so tall that you need an elevator in order to get in the saddle, an old west dancehall girl, and a post apocalyptic sheriff, because the late 19th century was not limited to England, but was happening in America as well. Then there is the steam-powered dragon.

There are also goddesses and birds that aren’t steampunk.

And, there’s the whale, because I love Moby Dick and I love the whale shape, so I made a whale full of Moby Dick references and was disappointed because nobody got them. I guess I just had to release my inner nerd.