The Studio of Exhaustion project is named for the Studio of Exhaustion from Diligent Service, a building in the Palace of Tranquil Longevity, which is a complex of buildings in the northeastern corner of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The Qianlong Emperor, having reigned for many years, began building a retirement retreat in anticipation of his abdication. Qianlong vowed that “if the Heavens blessed him to be on the throne for 60 years,” he would retire out of respect so as not to outreign his beloved grandfather Kang’xi, China’s longest-reigning emperor.
However, Qianlong never retired and never inhabited his modest retirement hall.
Clifton Meador combines writing, photography, printmaking, and design to make books that explore how the narratives of culture, history, and place are the basis for identity. His work is in many collections, including the Library of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Yale Art of the Book collection. His work has been supported by grants from the Rubin Foundation, the NEA, the Soros Foundation for Open Society, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He was twice awarded a NYFA fellowship in Printmaking/Artist’s Books, was a Fulbright Scholar to the Republic of Georgia, and was the 2013 recipient of the MCBA Book Prize. He led the MFA in Book and Paper program in the Interdisciplinary Arts Department at Columbia College Chicago, collaboratively founded an experimental graduate program at SUNY New Paltz—the Visual Research Laboratory—and was director of Nexus Press in the 1980s. Before joining the academy, he worked as a pressman at several commercial, literary, and small press production facilities, including Open Studio, Nexus Press (where he was the director for four years), and J. B. Richards. He served as Chair of the Department of Art at Appalachian State University for five years and is now a professor in the Graphic Design and Graphic Communications Management programs there.