If It Weren’t For: Clown Figurines

Love for circus character inspires class project


photo courtesy of Dan Shelton

Jackson, one of senior Dan Shelton’s first clown figures, is considered a pierrot. Shelton has learned about many different types of clowns and has made art about them during AP Art and Design.

Samantha Haney, News Multimedia Editor / Legend Social Media Manager

Starting in 3rd Grade, senior Dan Shelton’s fascination with clowns began.

“I took a small class through The Center for Creative Learning (CCL) designed to teach kids about mimes,” Shelton said. “From there it just spiraled.”

CCL is a school that children can test into during elementary school and focuses on developing critical thinking in unique areas. It offers main classes with kaleidoscopes, shorter classes, which is where Shelton learned about mimes. Although mimes are different from clowns, it led to them admiring the outfits and colors of clowns, and as they began to learn more, they started to like them on a deeper level.

“I love how there are so many different categories and types that are used to portray different emotions,” Shelton said.

Out of all the different kinds of clowns Shelton has learned about, jesters and pierrots are their favorites.

“Jesters have so much history and the way they interacted with nobles is just fascinating,” they said. “Pierrots are so enchanting to look at.”

About two years ago, Shelton got their first clown character, beginning a collection of figurines.

“Jackson was my first one. I’m pretty sure he’s a pierrot but a lot of figurines are just loosely based on clowns and have what would be considered the basic clown outfit,” Shelton said.

When they started thinking of ideas for their sustained investigation project in AP Art and Design, they wanted to focus on something personal and show people how they perceive clowns.

“I see them as something to be in awe of and not something scary,” Shelton said. “Yes, there are so many freaky clowns, but clowns are so much more than creepy.”

They wanted to present all the different versions of clowns throughout history. To do this, Shelton is using different mediums they’re familiar with, such as painting, ink and drawing, while still experimenting with other forms like 3D sculptures.

“Clowns make people feel emotions and provide laughter and they are so so so beautiful,” Shelton said.