Claud Spadafora is a multidisciplinary artist, born and based in Hamilton Ontario (Ohron:wakon). Claud works in many mediums, usually combining them; she is a theatre-maker and performance artist, playwright and poet, filmmaker, multimedia artist and digital painter, and musician. Claud's art practice tends to include her doing many jobs towards the final product, sometimes simultaneously; in her award-winning film series "Recovering", Claud wrote poetry based on her lived experience of eating disorder recovery, recorded herself performing it, intercut it with community interviews she conducted on the same topic, directed the film's visuals, and edited it all together. Another example is, during COVID, Claud wrote a play called "Bathtub Spaceship", an immersive and interactive live-stream adventure: in it, she operated the livestream while performing the script she wrote, changing her voice for each character with sound software, operating the sound design she created, and typing in the live chat to the audience. In short, she is primarily a writer and performer of many modalities, with proficiency in photography, videography, Adobe Premiere Pro, Illustrator, Photoshop, Reaper audio, voice, and a couple of instruments (links to examples of work found below).
Claud believes in process-over-product art making, and is interested in arts work that puts people and their well-being first. Her work (and life) are led by a continuously evolving anti-oppression framework. Claud seeks to use art as a way to carve out moments and spaces of rest, or joy, or catharsis, or education, or resistance, or chaos, particularly for historically under-served communities. Claud is disabled, neurodivergent, and queer- she is passionate about making art around these topics and their intersections. Claud is interested in being an active player in the continued development of Hamilton’s arts industry, while keeping community and access at the forefront and battling the ongoing gentrification of our symbolic/metaphorical and physical spaces. Claud's recent artistic work has gone like this:
Playwrighting! Claud won 2nd place in the Hamilton Fringe New Play Contest in 2021. This year, Claud wrote a play called Bimbos In Space for the 2023 Hamilton Fringe Festival (and is also performing a role in it). Inspired by the absurd camp and euphoric filth of sci-fi B movies and exploitation film of the 1960s, this is a backwards morality tale that speaks to the virtue of the liberating things we were never taught to value: hyper-femininity, rest, self-love and vanity, owning your sexuality, sex work, kink, queerness, and the possibility of restorative justice. We're neither covering up the grime nor wallowing it in– it’s sticking glitter on the grime and calling it fashion.
During COVID, Claud wrote a play called Bathtub Spaceship, an immersive and interactive live-stream sci-fi adventure. In it, Claud leads a small audience of astronauts through an interstellar rescue mission they pursue from their own bathtub (spaceship). Using live vocal modulation and Youtube's live chat, Claud plays 3 different characters, typing and speaking while simultaneously operating all the tech via 3 monitors, 2 computers, and unearned hubris. The piece explores themes of isolation, sarcastic robots, and how we need each other (Hamilton Frost Bites Festival in February 2021). Link to trailer. Link to behind the scenes. Link to review in Beyond James.
Filmmaking! Claud recently created Recovering, a series of short films chronicling the process of recovering from an eating disorder, viewed through the lens of the five stages of grief. The episodes combine Claud's spoken word poetry, audio from community members with lived experience that Claud interviewed, contemporary dance, and mixed media. One of the episodes was shortlisted at Films on the Fringe 2021. Link to episode. Link to another episode. Claud also made a stop-motion film starring two adventurous anthropomorphic dildos because no one told her not to.
Performing! Claud won the Hamilton Fringe Monologue Slam in 2023. Claud performed and co-wrote plays in three previous Hamilton Frost Bites Festivals, including Whorearchy: Pilgrimage (Critics Choice, View Mag) and Key Words Include. She performed in Tottering Biped Theatre's Shakespeare at the Rock festival for 3 years, before taking the helm in 2019, when she directed a queer reimagining of Twelfth Night. Claud played the lead in #dirtygirl, the winner of the Hamilton Fringe Festival's Audience Choice Award in 2016. Claud voiced the lead in a horror video game called Debris and was the disembodied announcer voice at the Hamilton Arts Awards in 2018. Short clip of Claud performing at a musical theatre cabaret.
Community! in 2019, Claud co-developed and co-facilitated accessible filmmaking workshops with Agile Arts, which aimed to empower marginalized youth to tell their own stories with limited resources (such as creating compelling films with user friendly smart phone cameras, instead of fancier industry camera equipment); in 2023, Claud created a 9x6ft map of Hamilton made of yarn and an accompanying documentary on local activism intended to help us Hamiltonians attach meaning to the places we reside and move through every day; to connect streets and structures we already know to the work happening within them; to encourage us to view our city in a different light and move our collective restlessness into strong community work. Passerby's at the Bernie Morelli Community Centre were encouraged to write down community commitments on little pieces of paper and attach them to the yarn framework. Link to documentary.
Bragging! In 2023, Claud won the Shirley Elford Commission Prize at the Hamilton Arts Awards. She has showcased her film work at Hamilton Community Foundation’s Women For Change conference and was a Top 5 finalist for a 2017 Emerge Media Awards. She was an Emerging Artist nominee at the 2020 Hamilton Arts Awards and won second place prize in Factory Media Centre's 150 Seconds of Ontario filmmaking contest in 2018.
Artist Statement from Claud:
These projects described above are microcosms of what’s important to me in my art practice: exploring mental illness, disability, and intergenerational trauma at the intersection of gender (and how it all lives in our bodies), without glamorizing or re-traumatizing. Specifically, being in community with those facing similar challenges to you, expanding/complicating the discourse on stigmatized topics, and giving myself and my community a chance to artistically express and embody challenging experiences as a form of healing and empowerment.
I work to redefine theatre and film spaces, prioritizing health and well-being above the creation of products for consumption. I see a concerning pattern of under-served folks being wrung for their trauma or demographic-specific insight, with nothing in place to care for the emotional toll such work takes. Consequently, we have an arts ecology where predominantly privileged audiences take in stories and bodies that make us feel like we’re advancing equity in the arts, while those artists are expected to sacrifice their safety and sustainability for a seat at the table. One of my core values as a maker is that work, especially work surrounding stigmatized topics, should help both the viewer and the creators in equal measure. That is the kind of work I would like to make- multi-disciplinary works that carves out a space and voice for messy, crazy, unpolished, brilliant folk that Hamilton is brimming with.